Hey folks, Kris Asleson here, founder of Truth x Vision. Thanks for checking out this post!
It was yet another wild, fast-paced year here in the world of Truth x Vision (as if we could do otherwise…). In a nutshell, we delivered 40 new Farm in a Barrel systems to West Africa, launched the Village Drill project, and shared an August adventure in Ghana with our first official mission team. The bank account hit dangerously close to 0 a few times (and by close I mean below), but we all had faith and worked together as a team to make 2015 our best year yet.
In the non-profit world, operating successful projects is the fun part. However, it’s the behind-the-scenes systems within an organization that empower project development, guide implementation, and monitor results. Without a healthy organization, projects don’t go too well. As a group, we feel called to scale significantly, so we’ve continued to invest in our infrastructure. A few examples include:
- Consistent board meetings – This was the first year of monthly board meetings, complete with work summaries and meeting notes.
- New, completed website – Our website was tweaked to be more engaging through simple storytelling and powerful imagery. There’s also strategic call to action buttons throughout to effectively organize visitor interest.
- CRM development – We are officially running an updated database on Salesforce, enabling us to manage relationships with all of our donors, volunteers, and other contacts.
- Financial prowess – With the leadership of a great volunteer, who we’ll call Scott (since that’s his name), we filed our first 990EZ tax form (meaning last year was the first year where we were big enough that we had to take our tax reporting seriously) and also set up all our accounts in Quickbooks for easy financial reporting in the future.
- Productivity and communication – We set up our Ghana team with refurbished Ipad minis and set up Dropbox, Slack and other communication systems to increase our program efficiency overseas.
- Staff and office space – This was our first full year supporting an executive director position (yours truly) and an office. Both of these are crucial to establish in order to grow a young organization!
Looking at the books, it was a monster year for our team. Our donors infused the machine with around 120,000 impact-driving dollars, which is roughly $40,000 more than last year and twice as much as 2013. Despite the big numbers, we matched them with ambitious program development, and hit a few rough patches around April and December where cashflow was….tight. We managed to pull through though and are prepped with the in-country technology we need in Ghana for years to come!
We had both an unexpected fallout and pleasant increase within our major donor community, which ended up balancing out after the dust settled. We received our second-ever grant for $3,000 in December, which tells us that we are trending the right direction with how we run our programs. We also raised $15,000 at our annual fundraiser in Albany, OR, which was a $6,000 improvement from any other year. We are still working to figure out a way to strategically develop our monthly giving program, but it is coming together over time. Lastly, a large part of our increased fundraising came through two volunteers who helped raise support for their passions. Luke, who led the Village Drill project, helped raise the $18,000 needed to launch the program, and Lauren raised enough to support her work as our in-country coordinator during the last half of the year.
To dive into some of the details, you can download our 2015 Annual Report. Detailed financial reporting will be available a little later.
In 2015, we essentially went from an organization with one pilot program (Farm in a Barrel) to three strong, full programs. Let’s take a look at them:
- Farm in a Barrel – In the summer, 40 more Farm in a Barrels were sent over to Ghana, bringing our total to 50 barrels. Our plan is to stagger release these barrels over the next year or two in groups of 5 or 10 barrels, as that model served us well in the pilot project. We also held a ceremonious transfer of ownership event at ICGC, our partner church in Accra where our pilot group of beneficiaries had paid off their $600 barrels in full!
- Village Drill – An exciting new project was launched in collaboration with World Thirst and WHOlives this year! Luke Pinneo, founder of World Thirst, and I went on a crusade to “fundraise” $18,000 for this project in the spring. However, this was not traditional non-profit fundraising. 9 investors each chipped in $2,000 for a no-interest loan to be repaid over the 3 years following the success of the project. Just like Farm in a Barrel, our goal is to engage in sustainable, and even profitable projects to empower leaders to guide their communities out of poverty forever. We are hoping to drill 20-40 wells in 2016, and if it goes anything like our test drill in August (where 2,000 people gained access to clean water) this initiative will bring deep and plentiful blessings to those lacking access to this most valuable resource.
- Mission Month – For 3 weeks in August, we hosted a team of 6 volunteers and 1 staff in Ghana. Kristi and Travis came together as a couple who originally got connected to the organization through Facebook! Nazar heard about the opportunity from playing basketball with me at the YMCA, and Alex got connected after I spoke at his high school. Our photographer, Haley, came along after a longshot, half-joking discussion to join us, and Lauren came with us but did not leave, as she is representing Truth x Vision in Ghana for the near future and hopefully beyond. I share all of this to emphasize that anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of this team is welcome! You don’t have to be special or have any amazing talent — just a heart to go and serve.
2016 will be a year focused on developing our programs more than launching any new ones as we have our hands very full right now. We will be targeting our goal of 20+ wells drilled, successfully expanding Farm in a Barrel, and gearing up for December, where we are planning to take multiple teams to Ghana rather than just one. If you are interested in coming in December, click below!
Beyond that, we are tentatively exploring a vocational school to produce Farm in a Barrel in-country, which would give those in need an on-demand solution and cut the cost of a Farm in a Barrel in half. This is a big initiative though (around $200,000) so we will have to wait and see how and when the hearts and spirits of our donors and volunteers are stirred to drive this forward.
Thank you all for being on this team! I truly appreciate everyone on board.