Ganna Walska’s Lotusland maintains the exquisite gardens created by Madame Walska in Santa Barbara so that generations to come can enjoy the unique designs. Besides showcasing its namesake lotus, Lotusland provides individuals with opportunities to see many rare and exotic plants from around the world—including bromeliads, native Australian species, and cycads—landscaped in stunning gardens. In addition, the organization works closely with the community to share sustainable gardening tips that nourish the soil and reduce harmful chemical use. As a nonprofit organization, Lotusland largely operates through the generosity of donors, volunteers, and other. Individuals interested in supporting Lotusland can do so in a number of ways.
1. Volunteering to work at Lotusland.
More than 250 volunteers work hard to keep Lotusland open throughout the year. People with unique skills can often find a way to apply them to support the organization, but employees will teach volunteers what they need to know to help. Many individuals volunteer their time in the garden and work alongside staff members to weed, water, rake, dig, and plant. Garden volunteers must have time to work during the week because the attraction becomes quite crowded on weekends. People without a green thumb can volunteer to complete clerical tasks in the organization’s office.
Outside of these opportunities, Lotusland additionally needs volunteers to act as docents and Garden Shop associates. Docents guide visitors through the various gardens and therefore must have a deep knowledge of the exotic plants contained within them, as well as an understanding of Lotusland’s history. Docents attend a training program that involves lectures and other classes before they begin leading tours. The Garden Shop is open from February to November and requires help from volunteers to welcome guests, answer questions, and work the registers.
Special events and projects also require volunteer support, and people can put their names on mailing lists to learn about these opportunities. All volunteers must complete an application and go through an interview process.
2. Becoming a member of the organization.
People who become members of Lotusland provide much of the support needed to keep the organization operational, and in return, they gain free admission to its 37 acres of gardens. The income from memberships goes directly toward operating costs and preservation projects to protect Lotusland’s globally significant collection of botanical species. In addition, the revenue supports the organization’s sustainable horticulture program and helps employees expand educational offerings. Members have free access to the gardens through self-guided tours, which allows people to move at their own pace and stop to sketch flowers or take photographs. They also receive special invitations to events that are closed to the general public, a 10% discount off purchases at the Garden Shop, and further discounts at certain local nurseries and garden stores. Those who purchase a Lotus Keeper membership, the highest level of support, gain even more opportunities to enjoy the gardens, such as the ability to host private picnics and other events on the grounds.
Lotusland additionally offers gift memberships, which make great Christmas or birthday presents for friends and family members who are interested in horticulture and rare plants. Within two weeks of their membership purchase, people receive a packet with a welcome letter and the current issue of the organization’s quarterly newsletter.
3. Giving a direct donation to Lotusland.
To facilitate the donation process, Lotusland offers a secure online donation form at lotusland.org. Direct donations allow the organization to preserve its many botanical treasures and to expand its educational programs, which benefit local elementary school students. Many corporations offer matching gifts to double their impact, so employees should check with their HR representatives to see if their company has such a policy. The online donation form allows for custom donation amounts, and donors can earmark the money for plant acquisition, educational programs, or garden care, if desired. The form also allows donors to remain anonymous, and to donate in honor or in memory of a loved one.
4. Engaging in planned giving.
Through planned giving, individuals can ensure that Lotusland has the endowment necessary to keep it solvent for years to come. By working with financial professionals, people can use such gifts to protect their assets and even generate income while supporting the organization. Lotusland provides a wide range of tools for people interested in planned giving online at lotusland.plannedgiving.org. On this website, people can find help with identifying their financial goals and learning how to fit planned giving into their financial future. People who contribute $10,000 or more to the Endowment Fund are inducted into The Lotus Society as lifetime members.
5. Making purchases from the Lotusland Garden Shop.
Profits generated by the Garden Shop support the organization’s activities as well. While people can stop by the store during their visit, lotuslandshop.org allows individuals to shop online for a wide range of unique home and garden products, as well as books, artwork, stationery, jewelry, and hats. These items not only make beautiful additions to one’s home, but they also make excellent gifts for all occasions.