Saturday again, but sadly no trip to the Farmers’ Market this week again (but something to look forward to doing again next week).
This morning we had our first-ever online AGM for the Farm. Normally our AGMs are a great opportunity to get together on the site and conduct the formal business all charities and companies need to conduct before going on to spend some more convivial time together. They’re attended by a healthy mix of trustees, employees, volunteers, and friends of the farm. The AGM is a time when we look back over the past year and look forward to the year ahead.
In that, today was no different. It was well attended, and it was especially pleasing to have several of our regular volunteers present. Our romp through 2019 was a timely reminder of the progress and achievements we made last year, including achieving much of the funding for our new cafe.
It was also helpful to review the financial challenges we faced in 2019, which fortunately turned out to be a much better year than we feared at the start of it. Which has stood us in good stead this year, which would undoubtedly have been a disaster if the financial projections we made at the start of 2019 had been played out. I take considerable pleasure in that, because I was still treasurer at the time. Identifying steps we needed to take, ensuring we put them into practice, and tracking our progress was well within my financial abilities – something I certainly couldn’t say about this year’s unexpected challenges. I am beyond grateful that someone who really knows what he’s doing financially took over the treasurer role in January. It’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and at times like this you really appreciate what someone with sound professional experience can bring to the party.
Of course we’re having to rethink and reevaluate everything we do in the light of the changed and changing situation. Like everyone else, we have no idea how this crisis will play out through the weeks and months and years ahead. But what we can say with confidence is that levels of need in the communities where the farm will grow not shrink, and that we want to be part of their recovery.
We have a major fundraising drive to help us move beyond our 25th birthday this coming October and survive until our 26th birthday and beyond. Sadly this is not money for nice extras, this is money to help us survive. We need to do this to replace all the lost income we would normally generate ourselves – from room lettings, courses, sales, team building days, on-site donations from visitors etc.
A couple of years ago we could see that it was becoming harder and harder to secure grant funding, and we resolved to try to increase our financial resilience by increasing the amount of income we generate ourselves and decrease our reliance on grant funding. Ironically, in the current crisis we have found funders to be sympathetic and supportive, whereas our self-generated income simply disappeared without any hope of replacing it.
We have set ourselves the target of raising at least £50,000 by October. Already we are almost at £38,000, with a combination of many small donations and a few larger ones. A local firm (Roper Rhodes Ltd) that has long been supportive of us has pledged to match fund donations up to £20,000. So far they’ve given us around £11,500, so the next £8,500 or so of donations will be worth double to us. And on my calculations, that means we just need to raise another £9,500 or so to hit our target. Still very challenging, but we’ve got this far, and somehow or another we’ll make sure we get the rest. Those £5 and £10 and £20 donations slowly slowly add up (especially with the match funding).
You can see what we’re up to here. If you enjoy my blog and would like to do something to help (and can afford to), I (and we) would be immensely grateful.
And so to bed. I hope you sleep well, and that I’ll see you tomorrow. When we will be off on another of our (virtual) Sunday morning coffee trips – tomorrow we’re revisiting the Dolomites in northern Italy