Where O Where Do Donations Go?
You gotta right to know (all about the cash flow)
Initially my plan was to create this lens if we won the $3,000 giveaway competition Squidoo hosted to show everyone how we used the money. Unfortunately, we lost by a landslide (but it was to a really great cause!).
You know what though? I decided it really didn't matter how MUCH money is involved. It's important to let donors know where every little bit goes, so I decided to create this lens anyway; even if we don't have a billion dollar budget. Actually, we're pretty much operating somewhere between pennies and pocket lint (and let's not forget the duct tape!)
I may not be an accountant, but I can definitely show accountability, right? Okay, here we go...
Regular progress reports
Can be found on our blog Equine Epiphanies (it's updated weekly).
What is your money used for?
Mainly? Programs - Programs - Programs ;o)
Ultimately, we hope to have enough visitors and regular donations coming in every month to offset the day-to-day expenses of maintaining the farm. Because we do not officially charge any type of fee for our visitors - although not being idiots, we happily [and gratefully] accept donations - it is imperative that we develop and maintain an alternate source of funding (in addition to our own poverty-stricken pockets). As of right now we have a few individual donors and Squidoo (but hey, everybody has to start somewhere right?)
Although we are quite committed and can show our cause to be worthy, dwindling budgets, increasing constraints and huge cutbacks have severely limited funding from philanthropic organizations. Additionally, the competition among non-profits is fierce. When it comes to choosing between an established non-profit and one fairly new to the scene, we're basically toast (this is where the pigheaded portion of my personality - the one that made my Mom nuts growing up - totally kicks in ;o)
With the money we have raised thus far, we were able to purchase liability insurance and a small (badly needed) tractor named Tilly - boo-yeah! Here's what's what:
Liability Insurance - As much as I hate it, we will have to maintain coverage when having visitors (cost is about $650 per year... oy!) It is, unfortunately, a necessity in today's litigious world :oP A generous donation in 2010 covered the cost for the first year, however, this year's had to come out of our pockets. This policy comes up for renewal each July.
The Meeting/Visitor Area - Is "on us" (see update in lens below).
Technology - A small laptop (easily portable), a projector for presentations prior to demonstrations (e.g. body language), software to help us manage the farms money, track grants and donations, and quickly generate reports for our grantors and board of directors (would you believe that Quicken for non profits costs a whopping $399? I think that's terrible.)
A Storage Building - Horses and farming means tack and equipment. Until we get a small storage area and new feed room completed, our 9' x 12' patio is serving as a tack and feed room (plus equipment storage). It is not, however, working too well (do you know how crowded it is out there with several hundred pounds of feed, tack for nine horses, supplements, poop scoopers, a gazillion buckets, and a two man auger? It is not a pretty sight, let me tell you...Yeesh).
UPDATE: A SMALL STORAGE BUILDING WAS DONATED TO THE FARM (Woo!) THIS HAS EASED OUR STORAGE PROBLEM, BUT NOT ELIMINATED IT .
Small souvenirs - We would like to send our young visitors off with a little memento of their visit here (pens or pencils with our website imprinted and maybe a handful of horse stickers). I bought a large supply of stickers, postcards, etc. but these things tend to run out quickly, and we will need help to purchase more. We've also added care packages that are being given to children undergoing treatment for various illnesses (cancer, dialysis, etc.) that have stickers, puzzles to do, postcards to color and send, a small coloring book and colored pencils.
Dirt - Yes, we know how silly this sounds but we have terrible erosion problems stemming from bouts of extremely dry weather followed by severe storms (and if it doesn't stop raining pretty soon, we may just skip this part and build an ark).
Fundraising Items - No "fun" I know, but it really does take money to make money (and boy is that a bummer and a bubble buster if ever there was one!) While I did decimate my own craft supplies - and bank account - to stock our horse lovers shop on Etsy initially, I realized I could use a bit (pun intended) of help in that area. The labor's still free though ;o)
What is our money used for?
In a nutshell? Everything else.
The patio/visitor area has been completely at our expense. Why? Because it is attached to our house so it would be completely unethical for us to use farm funds for this project (I'm fairly certain the use of the word ethical without the "un" will shock someone out there *laugh* but there are a few of us scrupulous people left on the planet ;o)
Bearing in mind that we are paying out of pockets that all too often contain nothing but lint, here are the latest updates (with photos below).
Meeting Area - Since our visitors will begin literally "in our backyard", we will need to offer a covered seating/discussion area and outdoor restroom for our groups. No donations will be used for this project because it will be attached to our house (so sadly, this bad boy is ALL ours).
UPDATE APRIL 2011: After a gazillion (and one) challenges we have started on the roof and are slowly plugging along.
UPDATE AUGUST 2011: Roof is up, concrete poured and stained, and bathroom roughed in (whew! that's a lotta work ;o)
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2012: Following numerous [financial] stumbling blocks, construction (destruction?) is back underway again and the bathroom is almost completed, along with a feed room and small storage area.
Fencing/Real Gates - Is still on our wish list, so we are still patching and duct taping away on our existing fence lines.
Horse Care - We are continuing to subsidize the care of the horses until such time as Epic Farms is able to provide for them.
We are bridging the gap as best we can, but unfortunately nobody around here is a Rockefeller; DH drives a truck (locally) and I work for a school system as an interpreter (not exactly your high income jobs). We are doing the labor ourselves to help keep costs down, mostly evenings and weekends. I look at this way: We might be moving forward at the speed of slug, but we ARE moving :o)
What are we doing to promote the farm and raise funds?
Pretty much whatever we can think up!
What We're Doing Now
-We have a website for the farm (EpicFarms.com)
-A thinkin' blog: EquineEpiphanies.blogspot
-Epic Farms sells on Etsy (selling handmade horse-related items)
-We do yard sales (netted just enough this spring to cover the next worm paste party - yeehaw!)
-Epic Farms is an official Squidoo Charity (with lots of horse lenses)
-Setup a fundraising page on Firstgiving.org (which has done exactly nothing so far, (the widget is pretty nifty though :o)
-We are registered on Guidestar
-Participating in Squidoo Charity events (and we sure could use some help!)
-Working on grant proposals to cover the stuff we can't (so say a prayer!)
-Using GoodSearch and GoodShop which generates donations.
What We're Working On
-Inputting the rest of our information on Guidestar (it's a gazillion pages long)
-Shooting for Giant on Squidoo (Update: We did it...Hooray!)
-Fan clubs for each of the horses on our website (I had a terrific, but complicated idea for this so it's taking me forEVER!)
-Pennies for Ponies (you can tell me what you think of this idea below this module)
Weigh in with your two cents! - What do you think about a Pennies for Ponies Fundraiser theme?
Would you donate .99c to a good cause?
FUNDRAISING UPDATE: Sara's lens (link below) netted us the coveted Sunshine Award and two $99 prizes - one for the charity and one for the author (me) - hot diggity DOG! I gave my part to the farm too; and used it to purchase Corel's Video Studio Pro software to make our videos :o)
NOTE: We were able to participate in Farm Day at a local elementary school because we fell under the umbrella of the school system's insurance. Of course had disaster struck, and someone come after us personally, we might have been in some pretty deep doo-doo ...
FARM DAY: We were able to take Champ (L) and Lady (R) to Farm Day at a local elementary school; they were both very popular :o)
Champ enjoyed the attention (he likes kids).
Lady was a bit shy over all of the attention she received.
We've teamed up with the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation to promote reading - Woo!
Champ greeting an unofficial visitor (until we can swing the liability insurance, we practice our "party manners" on friends and family :o)
Bella greeting the daughter of a friend on her makeshift pedestal (we now have real ones...hooray!)
Four more of our practice visitors, (most horses are very good with children).
A couple of things on the to do list (which is really REALLY long :o)
NEW VISITOR FRIENDLY STALLS FOR THE BOYS: This will be (we hope we hope!) paid for by a grant. Now that we have finished new digs for the girls, the boys would like their own home makeover (even if they are only in them to eat ;o)
FENCE: While we have become extremely talented with the duct tape and band aids, I think it's safe to say that sooner or later we will have to run some real fence line (do I need to mention that we're praying pretty hard for the "later" scenario?? :o)
This would be the stuff we're right in the middle of.
PIPE: Having spent the past few years plagued by exploding hoses (not a pretty sight) we are finally getting some pipe laid...woo hoo! Most of this will be buried and the listing spigot on the left will be straightened up and anchored to the fence.
VISITOR'S WALK: To the left are the completed stalls for the Girls. The area labeled visitors is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and will need some dirt to make it more level (the white line you see is the pipe mentioned above which will be buried). To the right is the open teaching/demonstration area which is still under construction. It is above this end where our sign will go (that's coming up next).
SIGN: Our daughter is heavily into woodworking (and rocks at it!), so she volunteered to carve the sign; isn't it looking awesome??
GATES: As I mentioned earlier, we bought a couple of new gates (yard sale find on left; how cool is that??) Obviously, we could use a few more. Curious about that sad looking one on the right? Yep, you guessed it; it's a pallet somebody threw out (okay, so it may not be pretty... but it does the job for now :o)
MEETING AREA: Nothing like some rock-solid clay to give you a good workout (even the auger was all but bouncing off the dirt, it was so hard - wow!) The holes are dug, the poles were plunked, and now it's time for some concrete...BooYeah!
MEETING AREA UPDATE ONE: The posts have been concreted, string run (to make sure it's level) and now it's time for rafters - hooray!
MEETING AREA UPDATE TWO: Rafters are run and we have finally finished the cross pieces for support and something to screw the metal roofing to (we're getting warmer ;o)
Meeting Area Concrete
MEETING AREA UPDATE THREE: We have concrete! Hooray and a happy dance (felt like forever, didn't it? ;o) If you think I'm exaggerating, just look at the little orange dates on the photos.
Obviously, this is the stuff we finally got done!
STALLS FOR THE GIRLS (PHASE I) - We had *cough* a pair of building inspectors come in early on the framework phase to check and make sure everything looked all right.
PHASE II - Next came the outside, the partitions, and the gates. Horses prefer places that are open and airy, and living in south Alabama allowed us to accommodate them.
PHASE III - We found a metal roofing supplier that had some leftover discontinued roof we were able to purchase for an excellent price; what a blessing!
OUTDOOR DEMONSTRATION/TEACHING AREA: This sits directly behind the house and is approximately halfway to completion.
OUTDOOR DEMONSTRATION/TEACHING AREA UPDATE: This area has been completed; we just have to till up the ground and make it softer for the horses (it's like concrete right now - oy) .
TILLY the TRACTOR: Who loves a silly name that doubles as a bad pun? Me- me-me! *laugh* A generous donation and a super sweet relocating neighbor at the top of our pasture combined to garner us a farm tractor - Woo! Taya happily inspected the implements as they arrived.
SOUVENIRS ON A SHOESTRING [budget]. My dad asked me if I wanted some leftover business cards to use for anything (he was going to throw a whole bunch of them out).
If I learned nothing else in the educational field, I learned this: Never (ever, Ever, EVER) throw anything away. Because the cards had nothing but a big red rectangle on both sides (although a dead P.O. Box was in tiny type underneath the boxes on one side) I had an idea. I found a great little set of horse stamps on Amazon for about $10; add a roll of black and white ribbon for $1.49 and VOILA! a micro-mini coloring book keepsake for our visitors :o)
P.S. and you thought I was kidding about the duct tape around here...see?
You can visit our blog to see what we're up to from week to week (we stay pretty busy around here :o)