Grassroots Sustenance


I’ve always been on the edge of Abundance NC. I helped get it started, and I have watched my wife Tami take it toward the moon over the years.

I’ve served on its volunteer Board of Directors, and I have had an active “advisory” role from the get go. Something I have noticed over the years is that there are a lot of people in our community who are glad Abundance exists. After a successful event, my email box often fills up with gratitude from folks who are glad Abundance is here.

This week is WUNC Radio’s “Pledge Week.” I love WUNC. I am one of their many “Sustainers.”

They run my credit card every month, and I am glad to contribute to their endeavor because I am glad they exist. I think Abundance is in the same boat. While you might not be able to “tune in” daily, there are many, many people who are glad Abundance is here, doing the work it is doing on renewable energy, local food, and building community.

It dawned on me that Abundance should have hundreds of “Sustainers.”

So I pinged Charlotte, who keeps the books and asked how much of Abundance’s supporting revenue came from individual contributions. I was surprised how low it was. I would call it “anemic.” I would say that today Abundance’s “Sustainer” program is lame. I waded into the books to see where the money comes from to keep Abundance cranking.

Here’s a rough snapshot of what I found. I made up these categories.


Earned Income is when they sell stuff.  Mixed drinks or honey or puzzles or books.  That’s a tiny slice.  Individual Donors looks much better, but of that slice, a very small percentage comes from “Sustainers.”

That’s mostly one time donations from people who Tami takes to coffee who want to support one program or another.  Consulting is the work Tami does on land conservation.  Fiscal Sponsorship revenue comes from the many smaller projects for which Abundance provides guidance and an “umbrella.” I left Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute out of the equation since they are larger than Abundance.  Corporate donations come from those companies who sponsor Abundance endeavors. Fundraisers are a small slice.  They are a lot of fun, but they are the hard way for a non-profit to stay afloat. And I found it interesting that the “Grants” piece is about the same size as the “Registrations and Tickets” piece.  That would be money from conferences and workshops.

It would seem to me that Abundance should launch a concerted “Sustainers” campaign.  

We should tear a sheet out of the WUNC songbook and build a grassroots base of constant, monthly support from those who are damn glad we are here.


Join the Abundance NC Sustainer Community! 

Give monthly to keep us going!  As they say, the cost of keeping us humming along each month is about the same as just one cup of fancy coffee! And instead of jitters, you get the soothing, satisfacting effects of knowing you are supporting and growing your own amazing community, local economy, local foods and farmers.

Plus we are planning a super fun holiday party just for Sustainers! Let us now what you envision! We are thinking “Island of Misfit Toys” on December 12th. Join us! Join in! Make it yours.


misfir toys