We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott Sabin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor in the success of Plant With Purpose has been a commitment to measuring our impact, and then striving for continuous improvement. As a nonprofit, working internationally in poverty reduction and environmental restoration, it can be hard to tell if you are really making a difference. We have had to design rigorous tools for measuring change and then use those to ask ourselves tough questions. It is often easy to find individual stories of success or the one person whose life has been positively changed. It is harder to know whether or not those results are typical. That has forced us to design studies that look at what is happening to the average person participating in our program. As a result, what are doing today is vastly different than what we were doing twenty or twenty-five years ago but it is far more effective. We have dedicated ourselves to continual learning and improvement and we are measurably increasing the well-being of some of the poorest people in the world while restoring trees to deforested land.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Plant With Purpose is a San Diego-based, Christian nonprofit organization that works around the world where extreme poverty and deforestation intersect. We work with poor subsistence farmers to improve their livelihoods and make their farms more sustainable. We also partner with local churches to help them have more of an impact on the needs in their communities. We were founded here in San Diego 36 years ago, to work in the Dominican Republic. I have been the director since 1996 after starting as a volunteer four years earlier. As I alluded to previously we have committed ourselves to continuous improvement, and as a result are now serving over 220,000 people in 8 countries. Our partnering farmers have planted 37 million trees, and have been able to reduce poverty in their communities by 60%. This year promises to be even better as we have recently received a grant to triple our footprint in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. A big part of our success has been due to perseverance. When I started we did not know what we didn’t know and made a lot of mistakes that hindered our growth as a nonprofit organization. For that reason, I am eager to help small nonprofits to find their footing and avoid some of our mistakes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a native San Diegan, so I tend to take the abundance of amazing places here for granted. However, here are a few of my top places. I enjoy sailing a Laser sailboat and kayaking, so Mission Bay is one of my favorite spots. San Diego bay is great for sailing larger boats. I also enjoy the zoo. By having a zoo membership, it is easy to go early in the morning before the crowds arrive, and really get to know the animals. It helps me to redouble my passion for making a positive difference for the environment during my day job. (Much of our work at Plant With Purpose occurs in and around the habitats of endangered species.) If we have more time, hiking in the Lagunas would definitely be something I would recommend. It is a side of San Diego that most tourists don’t imagine. When it comes to beaches, I grew up in Solana Beach, so I find myself gravitating to North County, and as long as I am there, the Belly Up is the best venue for live music around. Finally, Luce Bar and Kitchen on Morena Blvd is close to where I live and has some of the best food around.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Mark Slomka, Teaching Pastor, Faith Community Church John Steel, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Plant With Purpose Cindy Outlaw, Former Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Plant With Purpose
Twitter: @PlantWPurpose, @scottsabin
Plant With Purpose