Together We Grow and Onward to the Next 50 Years


As of the writing of this article in January, MOFGA is in the process of closing our books on 2023 and the Together We Grow 50th anniversary campaign. Planned in 2019 and officially launched in 2021 with the ambitious goal of raising $12 million and engaging 30,000 volunteer hours over three years, the campaign was a momentous endeavor — seeking to strengthen the network of support throughout the MOFGA community. I am simultaneously humbled and thrilled to announce that all signs are pointing to our having crossed these record-breaking thresholds. Not only this, but we also raised $1.4 million in additional funds specifically for the PFAS Emergency Relief Fund, which continues to provide direct support to farmers impacted by PFAS chemical contamination.

In the last three years, we’ve all seen costs rise faster than expected and we’ve weathered multiple significant storms (both literal and figurative) in our community. This has meant different allocations of fundraising and program support than when the campaign was initially established. We still have work ahead of us for permanent endowment funding and a sustainable path for annual fundraising growth, but right now it is time to take a moment for tremendous celebration together.

Membership Impact by the Numbers

My biggest takeaway from the campaign, and the element that I think is an incredible cause for shared pride, is the way the goal was met in no small part through the hundreds and hundreds of community members who grew their support in many ways — whether a newsletter subscriber became a volunteer, a longtime volunteer became a $20 member or Perennial Friend, a $60 donor increased their giving to $250, or a $500 supporter made a $50,000 campaign pledge. The campaign’s success has also been thanks to the substantial new grants MOFGA has received in recognition of the incredible work being done by each and every member of our staff and community partners. Some folks may be more directly involved with any of these funding pieces than others at any moment in time, but at the end of the day it is all of our work, day in and day out, that inspires giving — and that is what has made this all possible. This is what gives me tremendous hope for MOFGA’s future as we rise to meet the needs of Maine, New England and our food system in the next 50 years.

As you can see in our Impact by the Numbers graphic, MOFGA has seen incredible growth in both individual giving as well as grants — including private foundations, public funding and mission-aligned business partners. One of the most wonderful causes for celebration is also the substantial growth of our monthly donor community, MOFGA’s Perennial Friends, which now accounts for over $100,000 in funding each year. And, despite the cancellation of the Common Ground Country Fair in 2021, and thanks to substantial volunteer commitments in 2022 and 2023, we surpassed our total goal of 30,000 volunteer hours — and are celebrating a final count of 49,950 volunteer hours.

I am so grateful for our amazing membership and development team — for their creativity, insight, expertise, leadership, support, humor, determination and camaraderie — and for each and every team at MOFGA, as well as our board, fundraising committee and volunteers.

In the months ahead, the membership and development team will be taking a pause. We said an extremely bittersweet farewell to Elizabeth Lucy, MOFGA’s campaign officer, in January as she returned to live full-time in Brooklyn, and welcomed back Laura Miller, our development manager, following her parental leave. We also gave our wholehearted thanks and best wishes to Lizzy Jack, our summer intern who returned to support Miller’s parental leave as MOFGA’s development assistant, as she left for her study abroad experience in Bhutan.

The incredible growth in MOFGA support has also come with a need for complex systems, data maintenance and mindful stewardship of our community’s investment in MOFGA. As a team, we will be diving into historical data reconciliation, refining our internal processes, and connecting together around impact storytelling and meaningful partnerships with our supporters as we map out our path ahead. We will start the hiring process for a major gifts manager in March and hope to have our newest team member in place in April as MOFGA’s staff and board gather together to revisit our 10-year strategic plan, now at its halfway point.

In this strategic planning process, now seen through the additional lenses of a pandemic, the day-to-day realities of climate change, and an ever-growing public awareness of the dangers of chemical contamination in our food system, we are resolved to set our transformational plans together for the coming years. We can’t wait to share more about MOFGA’s vision for the future and make space for dialogue around how we work with and within our communities to get there. In a purely membership and development frame, we also look forward to sharing plans for campus dedication opportunities, a more robust planned giving connection and the growth of additional MOFGA partnerships.

Thank you all for your support during the Together We Grow campaign, and thank you to everyone who has supported MOFGA over the past five decades. There will be more details and celebrations to come, but for now please accept my most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for every member of our MOFGA community. Thank you!

– Meghan Metzger, Director of Development and Membership

This article was originally published in the spring 2024 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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