Nurturing sustainable nonprofits
The image of the nonprofit organization struggling to stay afloat in uncertain economic times is no longer the acceptable norm. Diverse funding sources and creative thinking have produced a steadier stream of support and more stable nonprofits. That’s why the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, whose roots began in early 19th-century America, is branching out in the 21st century to new partners to reach its goal of creating healthier communities.
The image of the nonprofit organization struggling to stay afloat in uncertain economic times is no longer the acceptable norm. Diverse funding sources and creative thinking have produced a steadier stream of support and more stable nonprofits.
That's why the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, whose roots began in early 19th-century America, is branching out in the 21st century to new partners to reach its goal of creating healthier communities.
The results will be a win-win-win for PHS, its partners, and a city that grows greener with each season.
Vital support for our organization traditionally has come from foundations, government sources, individual donors, and members (53 when we started in 1827, nearly 25,000 now).
In recent decades, corporate sponsors have become invaluable partners of the Philadelphia International Flower Show, which raises funds for the year-round programs of PHS. Last March, the premier sponsor of the show, Subaru of America, celebrated its 11th year as a partner. Bank of America, which presented PHS with its Neighborhood Builders Award two years ago, is now a major sponsor of the Flower Show. Each year we work with new sponsors to identify opportunities for collaboration and ways to attract new audiences.
These kinds of partnerships have increased over the last year. Brandywine Realty Trust and Independence Blue Cross supported the PHS Pop-Up Garden at 20th and Market Streets, which showcased the City Harvest program that provides fresh produce for more than 1,000 families in need each week. Whole Foods markets started supporting City Harvest this spring. In-kind donations are also offered by companies, including EP Henry, which provides hardscaping for Flower Show exhibits and other PHS programs.
The Phillies and Aramark are teaming up with PHS on Plant One Million, the project to restore the region's tree population, joining Bartlett Tree Experts and Aqua America. Einstein Healthcare Network will work with PHS on planting 1,000 trees at its new facility in East Norriton this fall. Staff from Grant Thornton helped plant annuals and perennials along the Ben Franklin Parkway at our "City in Bloom" event last week.
Just as we work to create sustainable urban landscapes, we realize this is the future of a sustainable nonprofit: forging partnerships with companies who see their own goals realized through their work with PHS.
Those goals could be met by providing funds for specific efforts, or donations of time and energy, in the form of corporate volunteers planting trees along streets or streams, or helping create an urban garden. The goal could be adding a green roof or setting an example of corporate responsibility and community participation.
As PHS takes a leading role for greening in the region and the nation, it will seek new partners who wish to help transform vacant lots, beautify public landscapes, create community gardens, reduce storm-water runoff, and confront other environmental challenges. These are projects that government alone can't address. But nonprofits like PHS, working with corporate citizens, will have a real and lasting impact.
E-mail Drew Becher at firstname.lastname@example.org.