Monthly Archives: March 2014

Plant With Purpose is Sponsoring an Evening with Paul Farmer

Plant With Purpose is Sponsoring

We are very excited to be a part of this evening and we hope you will join us.

Leave a comment

March 28, 2014 · 7:28 pm

Thank you from Nyakazu

Last month I was in Burundi, to be a part of the opening of what I expect to be one of our most exciting projects. We are working together with local communities, the government and biologists to restore and transform the Nyakazu watershed, including the communities that depend on its water and soil.

As I spent the day there, I was humbled at the thought of all the people who had made that visit and the project possible. We are a team, and each part of the team is indispensable. Thank you.

Leave a comment

March 26, 2014 · 8:06 pm

It’s Getting Better All the Time

Doing good is important, but it is just as important to do it well.

It wasn’t too long ago that charities were given the benefit of the doubt regarding effectiveness.  If your intentions were good and you were doing something, that was enough. Putting a Band-Aid on a symptom or solving a problem were seen as much the same. Whether you were giving a fish, or teaching a man to fish made no difference.

Until recently, the percentage of donations spent on overhead has been the most common way of evaluating charities. As a result, some very ineffective and sometimes harmful work has been funded around the world. However, as Bryant Myers wrote in Walking With the Poor, “the poor deserved better than gifted amateurs.”

Today, thankfully, many donors are not just asking how much of their money is going to the intended recipients, but also what it is doing for them once it gets there.

I think Plant With Purpose has one of the best programs for holistic transformation in existence.  I have a great deal of respect for what many other organizations are doing, and there are many ways to alleviate poverty, but I believe that what we are doing is particularly effective. That is the principle reason that I am still here after 20 years.  More than once I considered working for another organization, but the unique combination of environmental, economic and spiritual impact has kept me at Plant With Purpose. However, my feelings about our effectiveness are not enough.

We need empirical data to show that we are making long-term positive environmental, economic and spiritual impacts on the communities where we work. Technology is making measurement of some of these impacts easier. For example, we are now using satellite imagery and an index called NDVI to measure changes in forest cover around our communities, and learning that we are in fact having a positive influence on the forest. We have also measured the resulting improvements in water quality. We are using outside evaluators and a recognized index to measure the effectiveness of our Village Savings and Loan programs, together with other indicators to measure increasing wealth in communities. Crop yields and spiritual growth are also being evaluated. Much of this is done on an ongoing basis, but every three years we do a more comprehensive evaluation.  We are currently in the planning phase for our next triennial evaluation, which will be conducted this fall.

Once we have measurements of our impacts, we can continually improve our work, testing various options and incorporating new techniques. Over the past few years one of the most exciting things has been seeing our programs get more effective, bringing about greater transformation for more people, less expensively. That is a trend I expect to continue in the coming year. It is also a commitment we make to all of our supporters and beneficiaries: as excited as we are with our work, we are not content with where we are. We will keep getting better.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We’ve Moved

We have a new address: 4747 Morena Blvd., Suite 100.

After 16 years, Plant With Purpose has moved to a new office space.  

When Plant With Purpose first took up residence in our old space, there were three of us, and we fit in a single office suite in the back of a warehouse, in the far corner of an industrial park.  I chose it because at the time it was literally the cheapest place in San Diego. Over the years we added another twelve staff, and often six interns, while gradually connecting several suites into an arrangement that worked.

However, as we have grown and had more visitors, the space began to become a distraction. It was not uncommon for visitors to show up as much as 20 minutes late, because it was so hard to find. Meetings would begin only to be interrupted by one of the two gyms that shared a wall with us.Over the years, other neighbors have included a blacksmith, a hazardous chemical lab, a marijuana growing operation and various light but noisy industrial operations. When our lease came up for renewal, we knew it was time to make a change.

We are blessed to have found a new space, very close to our old office, but far easier to find, and offering a much more professional work environment and appearance. Best of all the cost is not significantly more, which means we are able to keep our overhead low, and maximize the money that goes to serve poor families around the world. 

Please make a note of our new address, and please come see us when you can.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized