JARS v55n1 - From the Executive Director

From the Executive Director
Dee Daneri
Fortuna, California

Happy New Year (millennium?)!
Last year our president dedicated several columns to the work performed by our Society officers, district directors and alternates, and the committees. Including all members of the committees, over 100 volunteers develop the programs and projects that benefit all of our chapters. Services, such as our websites, are made possible by dedicated, professionally qualified volunteers. If we add the many chapter volunteers, our team grows to an impressive figure. Volunteers are our greatest asset. Then there’s money.

Last summer a devoted member left us a wonderful gift of over $300,000. If endowed, this money will generate about $18,000 annually. What to do with this money seems to have everyone’s attention. We would all like to see a million-dollar endowment fund, but until the day that one comes along, it is both realistic and more effective to focus on modest projects that otherwise could not be implemented—these are the doable projects of today.

Last year, chapter and member contributions to the general fund, and other special gifts, brought a total of over $13,000, which went directly to pay for the essential objectives of the Society - programs and education. Member donations coming in with renewals came to over $4,400 in just the first three months of our new fiscal year. Sponsors increased from ten to forty during that period - terrific support! Our basic membership dues cover only the cost of servicing that membership. Excluding the extra revenue coming from sponsoring support, it would take an endowment fund of $290,000 at 6 percent interest to generate the revenue that you created through teamwork.

The successful Proven Performers project of the Public Education Committee was made possible by a $19,500 grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust. The Society would need to endow $325,000 to generate what we received through that grant.

Another member grant of $2,000 was given to enable OARS to upgrade equipment in an effort to serve you more efficiently. This gift would require a $33,000 endowment fund.

Two Life Members, Jack and Ann Root, have demonstrated the merit of focusing on immediate restricted-use grants, by befriending rhododendron projects since 1995. In the year 2000, our gifts from the Roots included: 20,000 full-color membership brochures and inserts. These were distributed to all chapters free of charge. This $5,000 grant has enabled chapters to distribute brochures to the public, and we routinely send them with inquiry packets when people call the Society for information. Each week OARS receives several brochure inserts, bringing new members to the Society.

When the ad hoc Decal Committee needed funding for its project, a $1,500 grant from the Roots made the project possible. Every member has received a decal, and these are also added to our new-member packets.

Our popular Fundamentals of Rhododendron and Azalea Culture pamphlet needed to be updated and reproduced in 2000. We were able to produce 25,000 copies of this important information with a $6,000 grant from the Roots.

Membership development continues to be of top priority. Until now we could only dream of a national advertising campaign to let the world know about us. The advent of the Internet has opened a window for us, and many new members are coming in via rhododendron.org and R&A News. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Roots, we are also advertising throughout 2001 in three major gardening magazines - Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Sunset.

Our handsome inquiry packet includes materials made possible by grants. Members Bud Gehnrich, Werner Brack and the Valley Forge Chapter, with help from Hank Schannen, stretched the advertising budget even further with a total donation of $900.

At the beginning of 2000 our journal editor was using her aging personal computer with many limitations to create our beautiful ARS journal. The Board budgeted for new equipment, but it was to be minimal. Today, thanks again to Jack and Ann Root, we will have a state-of-the-art journal editor’s office. A $13,000 restricted-use grant made this possible. Jack, a computer professional, has also committed to the equivalent of several months of full-time volunteer service to assist with this transition.

The total grants received from the Roots for specific projects in 2000 came to $35,500. Add in your donations, chapter donations, and other grants and you’ll come up with a whopping $75,000+. It would take an endowment fund of $1,250,000 to do what you and a few very good friends of the Society made possible in Year 2000! So while we’re waiting for the million-dollar gift, keep up the good work. Small and large restricted-use projects are available for individual or chapter sponsorship. Just call OARS!

Office of the American Rhododendron Society
"OARS - Rowing for You!"