Project Management

The Hills Are Alive: A Success Story in Grant Writing and Business Plan Development

Carla Johnson

After a random Google search looking for local things to do with kids, I first stepped onto the grounds of Hidden Hills Ranch (HHR) in early 2014. I was surprised to learn there was a working ranch nestled among the rural community in which I lived, just 10 minutes away. It was hosting an open house, and after the tour a woman gave a welcoming but sad speech about how the ranch would need to soon shut down.

Seeing the incredible potential, I approached her and asked more questions. She turned out to be the owner of the property and the non-profit executive director; she quickly gave me details about how they were not making enough to keep the place going. Having just taken the tour and experienced their customer service and business practices, it was evident they needed help—so I offered to meet with her (and other staff) every two weeks.

Thus began a relationship that included bi-monthly meetings where we reviewed the budget (expenses and revenue), set staffing objectives, worked on program development, executed a marketing rollout, established a mission and vision, created customer tracking tools and revamped the role of board members.

Board members had been passive and were not taking ownership of the organization. We developed a new board member application and set expectations that included having them become active participants in fundraising.

The …

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