The recession has been particularly hard on non-profit organizations. According to the 2013 GivingUSA report, total charitable donations were down 8% in 2012, compared to 2007. If ever there was a time for non profits to reinvent their business model, it is now. Frank Juliano, the new Director of Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey is doing just that. He understands that as people make difficult choices about their charitable donations, an arboretum might not make the cut, and this is why he has created a strategy that borrows from the for-profit world.
Typically non-profits create programs and raise money to support them. Frank’s new approach is to look at community needs first, and then build programming and partnerships to fulfill them. For example, what are the off-site needs of the Fortune 500 companies in the area and how can the Arboretum with its tranquility and show house meet these needs? New programs, bringing art classes and after-school programming to the grounds, are either operating at no cost or bringing in revenue. These programs are simultaneously building awareness for the Arboretum and multiple organizations in the area, demonstrating that this new model is working.