An Indiana program that seeks to plant 1 million trees by 2016 will use the emerging trend of crowd-funding to try to raise money for the project.
The Indiana Tree Project has partnered with the philanthropic branch of the online coupon site Groupon to start a campaign that will allow individuals throughout the world to have a part in planting trees throughout Indiana.
For $10, an individual can fund the purchase, planting and maintenance of hardwood tree saplings through Groupon Grassroots. The $10 donation will also partially cover the cost of purchasing land to plant additional trees.
Contributions can be made through July 22 on the Groupon Grassroots page for Indianapolis.
Donors to The Indiana Tree Project receive a tree ID number which corresponds to where their tree will be planted. Donors can follow the planting date of their tree, the growth of the tree as well as locate the acre where the tree is planted on the Indiana Tree Project's website.
The Indiana Natural Resources Foundation helped launch the Indiana Tree Project. Bourke Patton, a representative of the foundation, said the long-term goal to plant 1 million trees will be beneficial to future generations of Hoosiers.
"(This goal) will also allow us to acquire a thousand new acres across Indiana which would be an incredible gift to future generations of Hoosiers with new public land, cleaner air, cleaner water, and more beautiful forest land to enjoy" Patton said.
Patton said the mission of the foundation is to support and sustain the state natural resources department. Partnerships with different divisions of the DNR – including the division of forestry – help accomplish the different divisions' goals assists.
"This was just one way we could work with the division of forestry and help them fulfill their mission and also fulfill ours at the same time," Patton said.
The Indiana Tree Project is not the first to take part in a Groupon Grassroots campaign. The Indianapolis page lists more than 20 other campaigns and hundreds of others are taking place across eh country.
South Oakland Shelter, based in Lathrup Village, Mich., partnered with Groupon Grassroots from June 4-10 and raised a total of $1,600. The shelter works with 67 church congregations in Michigan to provide shelter for the homeless as well as provide programs aimed to help them and their families live independently.
The money raised from the Groupon Grassroots campaign allowed South Oakland to house 15 homeless individuals for one week, which includes hot meals.
"It's such a unique way to think about making donations," said Elisabeth Mirer, the director of development for the shelter. "Overall I really enjoyed the experience."
Mirer said the only issue she had with the Grassroots campaign was she said she wanted to have more contact with the people who donated. South Oakland created a survey donors could take at the end of their Groupon experience but not all people chose to participate.
But the nonprofit group has acquired three new volunteers with the help of the survey, Mirer said.
Groupon Grassroots "helps raise the profile of nonprofits in a good way," Mirer said.
Gateway Greening, a nonprofit organization in St. Louis, Mo., received $1,000 from Groupon for being one of the first organizations listed on the philanthropy site's opening day on April 22, which was Earth Day.
Gateway's mission is to educate and empower people to help their communities through building gardens and helping urban agriculture.
The organization raised $2,310. The funds will allow Gateway Greening to construct 37 raised garden beds for a community garden in St. Louis.
Mike Sorth, the executive director of Gateway Greening, said the partnership with Groupon Grassroots went well.
"Everything was done in a timely fashion and they delivered as promised," Sorth said. "We look forward to working with them again on something."
Suzannah Couch is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
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