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  • Tana Hasart

    Untangling foundation and program relations.

    by: Tana Hasart – President

    This morning’s chore is “tackling” a badly pruned vine maple at our new-to-us home. Addressing old wounds on the trunk and untangling branches will give the tree both a new and extended (hopefully) life.

    As my thoughts often do, this task makes me think about our foundations across Washington. In these past 13 months, there have been numerous conversations and requests for help in untangling foundation and program relationships. Most often, internal foundation challenges focus on clarifying the role of the foundation and its partner program. External challenges are often more focused on being able to differentiate between community work that is education-focused versus development work that is fundraising-focused. What can I say with absolute certainty? It isn’t easy to be clear about the world of public education/foundation partnerships.

    There are, however, tools available to help. Here are some to consider:

    • Have clear goals and outcomes. Just like working on that tree, the goal should be to honor what is in place while addressing and removing what may detract from good health. Manuals, documents, and even YouTube can help. Take advantage of training on team effectiveness and non-profit board performance. Work together toward the most successful outcome for the Foundation and Program.
    • Study the landscape. Master Gardeners are dedicated to making a difference in our communities and for our planet. Sometimes we get so busy working on tasks that we forget to take the time to consult with those who will be impacted. Are you planning a change to your bylaws? Does your MOA need revision? What about plans for the plant sale? And how about intern training? Creating opportunities to sit, share, and reach consensus avoids unintended consequences and supports ultimate success.
    • Ask for extra help. Sometimes the tangles become so challenging that they are difficult to undo. Knowing when to ask for help and being skilled at finding the resources doesn’t mean that a group is weak – it simply means they are smart and dedicated enough to know they need assistance to move ahead.

    So, I’m heading back to that tree because I have a goal to help it grow better and longer, and I’ve talked to our neighbors who will benefit from its shade.  I have a sharp saw and pruner at hand and a good bit of time this morning to complete the project.  And, to top it off, my husband is home to help give feedback and cart away the trimmings. 

    Wishing you as much success with your chapter as I hope to have with my tree,


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