Hello fellow readers, We are inundated with requests for donations that come in varying forms and disguises. While we wish to give back and help others, evaluating good causes can be confusing. I recently received an official-looking envelope labeled 2018 New Jersey Tree Survey and thought perhaps research of the health of our woodlands was underway. It turns out the envelope was from the Arbor Day Foundation seeking “membership,” and the survey was more about my demographics – age, level of education, do I have children.
They did ask some tree questions like – have you ever climbed a tree or planted one, and “do you think the Red Oak is an appropriate choice as the state tree of NJ?” Northern Red Oak, Quercus rubra, is our official NJ state tree, and yes, I think it’s appropriate. The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is the state tree of Pennsylvania, also a favorite that thankfully seems to be rebounding from wooly adelgid that devastated stands of them. As we speak, our hemlocks are dropping hundreds of cones, much to Curt’s concern that they are clogging the gutters. It’s a sign of good health, dear Curt.
The fluffy questionnaire and attempt at creating a sense of obligation by adding custom address stickers turned me off, though I strongly believe in promoting the importance of planting trees. Trees purify the air and water, offer shade, and provide habitat for our critters. Besides that, they are beautiful. There’s nothing more magnificent than trees many years older than us. While unnecessary printing things seem especially counterproductive to their cause, I enjoy visiting folks who nurture saplings acquired from the Arbor Day Foundation. Brian’s six-inch baby trees planted in his backyard in Mt. Bethel, PA, are now three footers after only a few years.
Evaluating the efficiency of organizations that support good causes can be daunting. An acceptable rule of thumb is at least eighty-five percent of a donation goes to the cause, and hence no more than fifteen percent should go to management, expenses, and fundraising. From the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2017 annual report, I calculated ninety percent of their revenue goes to their work, but I’m hardly an accountant. Their donations are tax-deductible, unlike some conservation groups.
I’m not promoting membership to the Arbor Day Foundation per se, but I am promoting planting and nurturing trees. Even when they are leafless, their roots are working hard preparing for the next season of growth; To help purify and protect our world.