“Dollar for dollar, a donation to POP will do a lot. It will most likely be used to plant a fruit tree or bush that will continue to produce high quality food for years to come. ”
-Danie Greenwell, 2012 Golden Persimmon Volunteer
In honor of the Philadelphia Orchard Project’s 10th anniversary in 2017, we’re looking back at a different year in our history every month. We’re also designating Golden Persimmon Awards for each year in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers.
POP VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHT: Danie Greenwell
Danie Greenwell was one of POP’s founding board members and has continued to serve as the organization’s volunteer bookkeeper and an invaluable adviser since leaving the board in 2011.
Like many good things, POP was formed around a dining room table – specifically Liz Mednick’s. Over weeks and months in 2007 and 2008, a few of us sat around that table and tried to figure out what it was we wanted, how we would set ourselves apart from other greening organizations, and how we would get funding.
While I come from a family of farmers and ag experts, planting is not my strength. Instead, I prefer the behind-the-scenes organizing that it takes to put an organization together. While ideas are great, it’s the follow-through that translates an idea into action. At the time POP was forming, I was heavily involved in an organization that trained young people to be nonprofit board members. Area experts came into talk about budgets, fundraising, volunteer coordination, legal responsibility, and strategic planning. I did my best to train other board members on these areas and then set up the accounting policies and created a budget. We recruited experts like Domenic Vitiello, Michael Nairn, and Anne Taylor to sit on the board of directors. We called the IRS dozens of time to try to move our 501c3 application along. We created electronic organization for financial records, marketing materials, and contact lists.
As anyone who has started a nonprofit knows, there is a steep learning curve at times. Board members over-commit and then cannot deliver; donor letters get forgotten; insurance gets dropped because the post office box was not working properly. But we had patient supporters who would spend their time fixing the problems and creating better systems. Generous donors would remind us to send them a letter for tax purposes and then send in another donation, just because.
I hosted a house party for POP because to this day, I still think it is the best way to get people invested in the organization. I invited a LOT of people to my very small apartment and served them as many foods with locally-grown ingredients as I could. Board members lugged in cases of beer. Phil spoke about POP’s work. I was blown away by the generosity of friends. Most were grad students and nonprofit workers and yet we raised $1700 in one evening.
Currently, I serve as the volunteer controller for the organization. I make sure that donations get into the bank and then are used to plant orchards. As a person who spends hours poring over nonprofit financial statements and 990s, I can assure that POP is in a good place. Our spending is “lean” and we have very little overhead. Dollar for dollar, a donation to POP will do a lot. It will most likely be used to plant a fruit tree or bush that will continue to produce high quality food for years to come. I am very happy to still be part of this wonderful organization a decade later!
SUPPORT US! If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards. org/donate.