Over the past month, you may have noticed that we're a little quieter than normal. I thought I'd explain why. Apart from taking a rest in Bali, we've also been thinking about the financial future of Making Roots. It's a bit of a sensitive subject that I feel a little strange communicating over the blog. But I decided that perhaps this is the perfect way to reach out to our fantastic readers who have have a solution or idea to help. I have been trying to figure out how Making Roots should go forward, because we are growing, but our funds are not.
I thought up the idea to create Making Roots 3 years ago. In October 2015 I decided to write a blog detailing my own lifestyle and changes, as I was getting asked a lot of questions. There seemed to be a lot of confusion and the science wasn't feeding into everyday lifestyles. Scientists were publishing the data, but realistically, it wasn't in a format the majority of the public would read. Unfortunately a lot of people now also get their information through social media. On January 8th 2016 Making Roots went live. It was extremely basic, and just my little personal blog.
We have grown a lot. The past year, there has been a big increase in both the demand for more information, and for the time I have been able to dedicate. It's a positive sign that work time positively correlates with website views. It seems to us, that over the past three years there has been a growing demand for rational, easy to digest content relating to the environment and environmental living. People both want to know more about the animals in the ocean and how THEY can take knowledge about ecosystems and put reducing their impact into practice in their own lives. In their own living rooms.
And we've grown to meet demand! This graph is real time data of our growth. The first 2 years of Making Roots journey I didn't publish publicly. You can see the fast growth that occurred when we began advertising the blog pieces. My little blog that I didn't tell anybody I was writing for a long time (haha!) has become a hub.
There is so much scope to create a healthy space for the general public to access the science in an easy to read and digestable format. There is also a lot of scope to begin researching this field. To ask what people care about, what they want to change to help inform policy and to develop really meaningful toolkits.
I have absolutely adored this process and watching the organic progress of Making Roots, and us too! I'm extremely excited that the reception to Making Roots has been so popular. I have given the past 3 years voluntarily to creating change, promoting sustainable lifestyles and advocating for conservation. In this time, I have worked restaurant jobs, conservation jobs- all to self fund Making Roots. This has meant many late nights, many missed weekends, any spare change reinvested back into Making Roots. Many sacrifices in personal and financial terms. It has all been very much worth it, and I have certainly found my calling doing this incredible work. I love reading research and translating it into something a little bit more understandable to life!
In May, when Lee took up the fabulous opportunity to work in The Philippines, we decided that to meet increased demand, I would take the leap, aided by low living costs and a tiny savings from Australia, to go full time working on Making Roots. This meant that we could stay in the same country, I could do the work I most wanted to- and I could keep creating content. We live extremely frugally- something that has aided me in self funding Making Roots up until now. Again, the many sacrifices are very much worth it! But as much as I would love the personal funds to stretch forever, they don't!
It's so fantastic seeing Making Roots grow. I currently spend 90 hours working on Making Roots. I adore doing this work, and honestly working these long hours on something I love, and I am passionate about is easy! However. With this fantastic growth, comes more work, and I can't physically squeeze in anymore time to do this myself. We need to grow past my self funded time.
There are plenty of conservationists, that are happy to write articles every so often, to discuss their passion and to promote their work. That's what we are here to do. But as an ethical fairtrade space, and knowing the sometimes very poor wages within this realm, I am highly uncomfortable taking help from people that I need and want help from, without paying them. They are often sacrificing a lot themselves to do this work. They should be paid.
And so, we are stuck between growth and remaining static, by lack of funds. With funding we can continue to grow. Without it, I am forced to turn down new projects, to limit our research potential and to reduce our communications. At the moment I currently manage our social media channels (am I certainly no expert in this field!), I design and manage the website, I write ALL content for the hub, I conduct all research, I network, I do the eco-living, I test products, I do the beach cleans, I do the conservation work, I meet researchers, attend conferences. This is all absolutely fabulous and I love it. Lee helps in almost every second of his free time away from work. He checks our content, finds new research.
But we could, and should outsource some of this work, to allow Making Roots to grow and to allow us to get professionals doing some of the tasks that take me hours (website design is not my forte).
Basic List of some of our core costs:
- Website costs
- Fees to receive professional help on legalities on setting up a Not For Profit Organisation
- Costs to attend conferences and events in the field
- Buying stationary and books
- Office space
- Part time wage for Making Roots admin work
- Funds for conducting research and producing the online content
- A wage to allow us to continue campaigns
- Funds to conduct conservation work
- Funds for beach clean events, school visits and similar education events.
We want to be able to properly conduct the research projects that we so badly want to do. We have 3 very exciting, relevant research projects currently sat waiting to be done. These are very much eligible for grants, to allow us to research and properly communicate findings. This is the work that Making Roots was set up to do. But there is simply just not enough time in the day to allow me to do this alone, to grow, we now must grow!! These projects deserve both the proper man power and resources. We want to be able to pay a team of researchers over the course of a period of time to fully research and write up important topics. Food is a big topic, that we receive ALOT of questions and interest in. Compiling the research so far over a number of years (!) has taken hundreds of hours. This, and other similar projects need a proper research period. These projects are eligible for grants. But without our core costs covered, we cannot expand.
We want to be able to attend important conferences and events. This is the perfect opportunity to hear about the current research and talk to the scientists in the field and to network. These are always inspiring and incredible events. However, they sometimes have pricey ticket costs and transport and accommodation associated is also expensive.
These costs are obviously relatively minimal but the hard reality is, that I cannot afford to keep funding Making Roots alone. Savings do not last forever, obviously. I absolutely adore this work. Whatever happens, Making Roots will continue, just how the next few months unfolds with dictate how much we can meet demand. I can get part time work to continue funding Making Roots- but ultimately this reduces the time I can give, limiting growth. I have personal living costs, that at the moment I sacrifice much of- as I donate so much of my own money to do something I adore.
I have considered advertising. But my concern is remaining impartial and independent. I want to bring forward the best research, I don't want our work to be skewed in ANYWAY by advertisers. I want us doing the nitty gritty and best work. This is the scenario that I would least like to happen, but would at least be a viable option for making money.
I have put a donate function on our website. I don't feel very comfortable with, if I am honest. I know that times are tight, and I do not want anybody feeling pressured into donating their hard earned cash to us. But I'm also aware that there are fortunate people in the position to have some spare cash that they are happy see invested in an ethical cause. I would love Making Roots to be more sustainable finiacially long term. How fantastic is it to think that environmental protection is worth investing in.
Over the next few months, I am going to carry on as normal, probably from The UK. I am very fortunate to have a deeply understanding family that means I can go home to the safety and comforts of home to keep on working on Making Roots.
So this is a little bit of a precarious time for us. We're tightening the purse strings even more to allow us to keep on full steam ahead for as long as possible. Funding is not a new problem for us, with both me and Lee working in NGO's in the past, funding is and always will be a solvable but relevant issue.
I am considering running a Kickstarter campaign in January. I would really love your thoughts, opinions and any help with this process. I estimate that Making Roots costs approximately £20,000 per year to cover core costs. If we could raise even HALF of that, we could continue long enough to apply for grants, set up fundraising long term (sales of calendars etc) and be on our way. Kickstarter is all or nothing, so this way, if we fail, we have an understanding that there is simply not enough demand for our work. If it works, we get funding. What are your thoughts? We could use this funding to help put capital forward for merchandise to keep the funds going.
Would you buy an ethical Making Roots t-shirt? Would you attend pay for events? Would you join us on a retreat? (P.S. my dream come true would be hosting a marine conservation retreat!!)
If the kickstarter does not work, and we don't receive funding this is news enough for Making Roots to end being a full time venture and back to being a part time venture. It won't be the end, just a change of tact. A successful kickstarter would just enable us to keep growing and signals the desire for our work.
I am really interested to hear your thoughts. Please, email, message, let us know!!