Of all of the exciting posts I’ve written for this website, I am the most excited about this one. It’s a long one, but my goal is to make it very clear to you exactly where we’re at in our plans and what we’re doing.
This past year with Cupid’s Landing has been an amazing ride for me. I started with almost no idea of where to begin, and have watched this baby organization grow so much since then – I have a board of directors, a business plan, have raised over $10,000 in just over a year, and have learned and accomplished so much along the way. Over the last month or so, I’ve been asked the same question with slight variations by different people: “What is your plan?” “Where is this money going?” “When is this going to happen?” Although I have had a clear vision in my head of what we’re doing and where we’re going for a long time, what I’ve realized recently is that I didn’t really have much of tangible a plan, not one that is easy to grasp anyway. So before I continue, I want to say THANK YOU to every one of you who asked me these questions! You really got me thinking about it from a different perspective. YOU helped me initiate this new plan. And this is why I love engaging with my community so much.
Shortly after I went vegan in January of 2013, I knew that I wanted to start a community-centric farm animal sanctuary. I knew without a shred of doubt that I was capable of it, and certainly motivated enough to make it happen. However, I had absolutely no idea of where to start. I was (and still am) living in the city. I don’t have acreage to rescue animals now. How do I start a business? Take care of farm animals? Buy property? Fundraise? Hire people? To a certain degree, I let this uncertainty stop me from really getting started for about three years. Then last year (early 2016) all it took was a pep talk from my good friend and former roommate, Casey, and the ball was rolling! I still had essentially no idea how to start, but I started anyway. I put the idea out there and took baby steps, knowing that I would learn along the way and the pieces would fall into place. I set goals. Some of these goals were quick, like getting my business license. Others were very long term, and hard to conceptualize. I declared that this was a ten year plan to purchase land, start a rescue/cooperative community, and that my goal was to raise $100,000. These sound like good numbers, right? After a year of fundraising, networking, and learning, I realized two things regarding these goals: $100,000 is not enough, and fundraising alone could take a lifetime to bring Cupid’s Landing to reality.
Now, let me just clarify that this realization says nothing about the amount and appreciation of support that we have received over the last year and two months. We have all been so blown away by how many people believe in us and generously support us, whether that be financially or in some other way. That alone has been a life changing experience for me. The amount of love and faith that flows from our supporters has motivated me even more (and I didn’t think that was possible!) to really make this thing happen. I owe it to you. The truth is, purchasing land is not the most practical way for us to use the money that we raise. What would we do once we got the land and had no money for anything else? I racked my brain for a more practical idea.
Some of you know that among the board of directors is my partner, David Conte. David invests in residential rental properties. He recently closed on his second property, and his goal is to purchase his third in 3 -5 years. About a week ago, David and I were putting our heads together to come up with a clear and real plan to propel Cupid’s Landing forward. We decided that the third property will be Cupid’s Landing. In 3 -5 years, David and I will purchase land and begin Cupid’s Landing, the farm animal sanctuary and cooperative community. This is so exciting!
So what does that mean for all the money that you have donated, and for the money that we raise in the future? This means that the money we raise will go towards getting everything started – building structures, animal care, any necessary licences, and other startup costs. This is SO much more practical, and gives us an opportunity to open the doors to Cupid’s Landing with 4 – 6 years of funding behind it. We are working on a financial plan that breaks down the different startup needs, and fundraising goals to go with each step. This will be tricky since we really won’t know for sure what we need until we get there. For example, maybe the land we purchase will already have existing structures. Maybe it will have structures, but not any that we can use so we’ll have to tear them down. Maybe the land will have nothing more than a small house. The first animals that we rescue will depend completely on what needs are present at the time, and what kind of structures we have when they present themselves. Regardless, we’re going to crunch some numbers and come up with the most practical estimates for these things that we can, and set goals that you can see and understand.
Over the next 3 -5 years, we will continue to fundraise and hold events for our community. We will remain committed to: promoting health and wellness to our community via free presentations and fitness events with Organically Grown Muscle, engaging our community through fun events and working with local businesses and community members (like OG Muscle, local vegan Chef Ben Nichols, Happy Belly, Laughing Dog Kitchen, Field Roast, etc.), supporting other sanctuaries and rescue efforts, and educating ourselves. I am currently interning at One Heart Wild Education Sanctuary. In the fall, David and I will attend the University of Washington for a Fundraising Management certification course, and then a Nonprofit Management certification course. Board members Netty and Dom are also volunteering with other animal welfare organizations. And of course, we will gladly welcome all new opportunities that come our way.
While it can be hard to explain Cupid’s Landing in just a few words (to convey that we are an animal welfare organization without any animals, but someday we will have land to rescue them), and raising money can often be confusing when we don’t have anything physical to show for it, the reality is that we are about to start something amazing, and this handful of years leading up to it has given us an opportunity to share the idea with you and gain support, while educating ourselves and preparing for the long term goal before it happens. It’s kind of like a long Kickstarter campaign, except Cupid’s Landing is going to happen no matter what, regardless of how much money is raised. I SO look forward to the day that I can send to each and every individual who has supported us along the way a photograph of the first animal that we rescue, the first seeds planted in our produce farm, the sign that reads “Cupid’s Landing” at the end of the driveway, and best of all – invite you to come visit. WE (our team and everyone who supports us in any way) are going to make this happen no matter what, and with this new plan, the path to getting there is clearer than it has ever been.
Keep checking in with us to see where we’re at. Always feel free to reach out and ask questions or make suggestions. We love hearing from you! I may have signed the documents and founded the organization, but if you have supported Cupid’s Landing at all, then this amazing project belongs to you as well. Here’s to the exciting road ahead for the next 3 -5 years!