"Maximum formality in structure, and maximum informality in planting," said the British writer Vita Sackville-West about her famous garden. The image of raised beds and patterned rows — bursting with riotous, exuberant plants — makes a good metaphor for nonprofit organization design. We do need structure and authority, but creativity escapes and runneth over.
As August begins and West Coast gardens bloom (yours may be frying), the commonalities between gardeners and nonprofit people are on our minds: Gardening is at the ground level, literally. Gardeners get their hands dirty, literally.
Gardeners are ruthless . . . when snails or weeds threaten. Gardeners know the weather can wipe out everything. Gardeners write their autobiographies in their gardens, just as we nonprofit folk write ours in the community. Gardeners have hope in the unseen future — as one gardener put it, "Delayed gratification is my middle name."
An African proverb puts it this way: The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time . . . is today.
In this issue:
* The Vanguard Foundation — once the next-generation darling of philanthropy — is closing amid acrimony and lawsuits. See Rick Cohen’s article below.
* Raising Money in 30 Days — sometimes you have to — is paired with a First Person Nonprofit story on how one nonprofit experienced its bleakest days and somehow got through them.
* Plus a 3-Minute Vacation with George Washington, and some requests for help and input in Queries & Communiques. — Jan Masaoka