From my research over the past few months, the Arbor Day Foundation has emerged as one of the leading and premier tree-planting non-profits. The history behind this organisation is quite interesting actually and goes back to 1872 when a man named J. Sterling Morton started a local 'holiday' which encouraged the people of Nebraska City to plant trees — around 1 million trees were planted in the local area on the first day alone! One century later in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation was officially created, and since then has planted over 250 million trees!
The seeds that Mr. Morton planted nearly 150 years ago are still growing and spreading trees — quite literally from those first trees — but also socially. In 2019 the very notable Team Trees YouTube movement had partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation. This mission successfully raised 20 million dollars to plant 20 million trees, and it is now up to the Arbor Day foundation to plant these trees. It just goes to show that even in the modern, technological world of the internet, the same as 150 years ago, people still deeply care about their planet, nature and the ecosystem. Today, the Arbor Day Foundation is the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.
As a result of having so many resources, the foundation is actually involved in a huge variety of tree planting activities. I was really impressed by Arbor Day's website. The two major aspects of tree planting are forest recovery and also planting trees amongst our cities and towns. But even more than this, the foundation has created a huge resource of useful articles and guides for those interested in planting trees, such as information on finding suitable trees for your area, planting tips, saving storm damaged trees and how to start your own fundraisers. Related to the last point, there are obviously some smart marketing members at the foundation, as they present many different options and benefits to donate, such as one-offs, memberships, corporate partnerships, carbon-emission offsets and donating through one's will. A great job is also done in their blog section, with a lot of regularly updated content being produced. Lastly, the foundation publishes a very informative and easily-readable annual report, such as the 2019 version linked to here, which goes a long way in showing their wide variety of successes.
Money, however, matters! So how are these guys at cost effectiveness? The Arbor Day Foundation promises one tree will be planted for every $1 USD donated, which is a very cost-effective price, especially when planting trees in a first world country where labour is expensive.
Also related to the finances, I really like how transparent the organisation is with its funds. You can see an example of their 2019 financial statement here.
Finally, I would also like to consider my target audience, which happens to be mostly Americans, as the USA spends more money shopping online than anywhere else in the world (perfect for iDonateByShopping.org). As such, although we are all undertaking this mission as a global endeavour with the entire Earth's benefit in mind, I think it is more than fair that the country that donates the most money receives a significant benefit and share of the trees planted.
There is so much about this foundation I like. Overall, my honest impression is that Arbor Day is a very professional and efficient tree-planting service, with a great history and track record. But having said that and having covered the history of this mission, I can finish off with a nice conclusion in dot points!
- The foundation has a long and proven history of success, which is actually speeding up today, 150 years after the inception of the movement.
- The foundation has a huge following of members and supporters, in fact, the biggest in the world — promising the potential of attracting these people as future idonatebyshoping.org users, and being at service to the cause at large so that funds raised can be well spent.
- The great variety of resources and experience in the foundation is a great possibility for future collaboration, and for someone like me who has a lot of interest in the topic, learning about the issues at large from experienced tree-planting veterans is very enticing!
- The cost per tree, at $1 USD, is very cost effective, so we can get maximum bang for our buck from the funds that we raise.
- The organisation is very transparent in its financial handlings.
- The foundation is based in the USA which is the source of most of iDonateByShopping.org's income, and so I believe the USA should be receiving a significant return for their goodwill!
I have included some YouTube videos below made by the Arbor Foundation themselves, as they do a great job in demonstrating their worth.
PS. For those interested, Arbor Day itself is the last Friday in April.