RSF Receives Challenge Grant
President, Rhododendron Species Foundation
At their July 19, 1997, meeting the Rhododendron Species Foundation's Board of Directors were apprised of a challenge gift offer of $400,000 toward the foundation's endowment fund if it can match that amount by August 1998.
Bill Lindeman, RSF treasurer, is chairman of the task force which is gearing up to reach members and friends of the RSF. This generous offer is a unique opportunity to amass $800,000 in the endowment fund. Up to 5 percent of the interest/dividends which accrue on the fund are used to augment salaries and operational expenses each year. The fund now stands at $500,000, so an influx of capital of this magnitude would more than double the value of the fund, and bring the RSF closer to its goal of meeting its financial obligations annually. Annual dues and contributions average about 50 percent of the staff expense. With an endowment value of $1,300,000 the RSF could be assured that salaries were covered annually.
The RSF is currently renovating major areas of the garden: the azalea garden and the Taliensia and Neriiflora sections. This fall, work will begin on the upper study garden, which has been closed to the public for the better part of two years. A generous grant from the Miller Charitable Trust made this possible. Help from ARS chapters toward funding an intern to help the staff is also part of the equation.
A word here to thank the on-going support of many ARS chapters which help us pay for interns! This is a basic need at the garden. Even with eight on the staff, the RSF relies very heavily on the interns to help accomplish the huge work load which the garden and all the programs require. The learning process is important to the interns, and the job experience vital to them as they forge their way into the job market. Rounding out that work group are the many volunteers who consistently "fill in the gaps" as needed — a very capable team effort.
Several committees have been reactivated and are truly working hard to achieve some much needed help. The grant committee, chaired by Dr. Wm. O'Neill, has been working diligently since December 1997 to get grants for interns, renovations, and special projects with a high degree of success. The garden planning committee chaired by Warren Berg has developed a contract for farming out seedlings and reducing the plant inventory at the RSF nursery. The membership committee, chaired by Dr. John Root, has been developing new ideas for higher categories of membership and the incentives that are earned because of it. Volunteers are not left out of this equation! The photography committee, chaired by Dr. Keith White, has produced a video about the RSF which will be used to solicit new members. Curator Steve Hootman plans an article for the Journal covering all the innovative things happening in each area of concern.
The RSF is on the move and looking to the future and, with the firm foundation an expanded endowment fund can guarantee, plans to be around for a long time to come. If you are a member, we urge you to consider a pledge toward the endowment fund in the next few months, or spread across two years for income tax purposes. If you aren't a member, why not give us a try?