By Rheba Howard
As young Greenhands, FFA members are given a daunting task: memorize all five paragraphs of the FFA Creed as written by E.M. Tiffany. “I believe in the future of agriculture” starts the Creed. The future of agriculture “with a faith born not of words but of deeds.” Nothing illustrates that faith in the future of agriculture better than the deeds of FFA sponsors and donors.
While most of our FFA programs are sponsored by corporate entities, not all of the organization’s funding needs are met through sponsorships. It is donations from individuals who help ensure the fulfillment of these FFA programs. Individuals can give of their time, talent and treasure. It is organizations that they “hold an inborn fondness for” that most donors choose to support. Within the past year, the National FFA Foundation has increased their focus on individual giving efforts, allowing donors to share their inborn fondness for FFA.
This year alone, individual giving has grown their connections by 435 percent. Tiffany’s Creed speaks of “the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.” Making those connections help increase public interest in FFA. The National FFA Foundation not only wants to reach out to those who were in FFA but also to those who support FFA, share passion for agriculture, and have shared values.
“Traditionally 72 to 78 percent of funding for non-profits is from individuals. Here at FFA that is a different story with most of our funding coming from corporate sponsors. There is need to grow our programs, and funds received from individual giving can help make that happen,” says Natalie Clayton, the foundation’s annual giving manager.
Anyone can donate to FFA at any age. There are several ways to donate, from annual cash donations to volunteer hours to long-term planned gifts such as bequests and endowments. The National FFA Foundation individual giving team has started to reach out to FFA supporters through the CONNECT campaign, contacting past national FFA officers, and through the National FFA Alumni Association. By networking through these entities, FFA supporters can donate to the future.
Tiffany sums the idea of support in the Creed, “In life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so ¬– for other as well as myself.” Supporting FFA not only secures our future but helps to grow our young leaders into the leaders of tomorrow.