Frequently asked Questions
Policies & Procedures
We fund agricultural research projects and consider our investment critical to a food-secure future. “Investment” in this document and elsewhere reflects a level of rigor in funding decisions comparable to that employed by a large or rapidly growing business and refers to a philanthropic investment in public goods. Unless specifically referred to as “financial investments,” investments are in a legal sense donations and do not include any possibility of financial return.
Individuals who pay membership dues and meet certain other conditions are described as members. As described in the bylaws, the board of directors is self-perpetuating and members do not have rights to elect or remove members of the board.
Grow Further will fund research and development of techniques, tools, farm software, and new breeds of crops and livestock. Successful projects will improve climate resilience; increase nutritional value; and/or raise farm income.
We anticipate that most projects will be carried out by public and nonprofit research institutes and universities in developing countries. We may also partner with western institutions, agricultural cooperatives, and private companies.
Decisions between potential projects will be guided by the following general questions:
- Will it work?
- Will farmers use it?
- Will smallholder farmers benefit from it?
- Will it benefit the environment?
- Will it improve food security, including nutrition?
- Will it help develop local agricultural science capacity?
- Are we ready to make an informed decision, or would we need to learn more or engage more broadly?
Members will receive updates on projects, via video conferences in addition to written reports where practical. In addition to qualitative updates, members will receive more formal reports with quantitative outcomes such as adoption, change in farm income, and social return on investment.
From time to time, typically around a theme such as a location or alumni group, Grow Further will issue a call for a new investment circle. The minimum size of a circle is 15 and the maximum 500. Activities will initiate when a circle reaches 15 members, and circles above 500 will be subdivided. Larger investment circles will delegate work to committees. Whether there are committees, all members of an investment circle will have access to educational programs that may include (lectures, workshops, and field trips to research institutes and farms).
Each investment circle will operate one or more grant cycles, each lasting a few months, according to the following steps:
1. Members indicate areas of interest, such as goals (farm income, nutrition, climate adaptation); parts of the world; time frame and risk tolerance; and specific crop or livestock species or research disciplines.
2. Staff or qualified volunteers source potential projects from an expert-curated list, initially provided by outside organizations and in the future provided by an in-house expert committee or network separate from membership. Projects will probably most commonly be conducted at public research institutes in developing countries, though we will also consider applications from universities, private companies, and agricultural cooperatives.
3. Members from diverse backgrounds conduct due diligence in a manner similar to the process in an angel investment group.
4. Members choose among these potential projects and vote on the finalists, in a legal sense, making a recommendation to the board.
5. In considering grant renewals, members will review progress in consultation with experts and make a recommendation to the board regarding renewal similarly to the above. Generally speaking, more junior members will assess grant renewals and more senior members, armed with the experience of seeing how past projects went, will take on the more complex task of choosing among new grants.
If you would like to organize a new investment circle, please contact us for support and guidelines for the use of the Grow Further brand. Groups that do not follow these guidelines may be liable for trademark infringement.
Expectations of Members
Prospective members will complete an online application that includes basic questions about qualifications and potential conflicts of interest. Knowledge of agriculture, international development, different cultures, and angel investment are all helpful but not required. Those who are accepted will receive a personalized onboarding meeting or call covering general procedures, current activities, new member background, current and future committee and volunteer positions, etc. Committee and volunteer positions will have specific qualifications and may be filled either by members applying or by a chair or staff facilitator asking an individual to serve.
• Pay membership dues.
• Declare conflicts of interest.
• Support a long-term international strategy that may not prioritize projects that would have the largest benefits in the here and now.
• Accept the risk associated with funding research that not all projects will succeed.
• Act in a professional and respectful manner, including but not limited to following the online discussion forum guidelines.
If you volunteer or join a committee, fulfill the expectations of that role.
If satisfied, reflect on possible referrals and consider a personal commitment beyond regular membership dues.
We offer three Membership Tiers:
- Investment Partner: 5,000+ USD/year
- Co-Investment Partner: 2,500 USD/year
- Supporting Partner: 50 USD/month
We also offer a Student Membership at 10 USD/ month. Members may choose to invest more depending on their preferences and interests.
Volunteers and committee members fulfill their responsibilities in a conscientious manner, including but not limited to attending meetings or calls, responding to emails in a timely manner, and, in general, representing the organization in a positive manner. Grow Further reserves the right to remove volunteers and committee members, or general members with or without cause.
Grow Further strongly values a diverse membership, including but not limited to diversity of profession and family or professional ties to countries where we work. We believe that the best decisions and most effective programs come when we bring people together from different walks of life, such as immigrants from developing countries, local farmers, grassroots philanthropists, and social impact investors who can help take ideas to scale. It is not necessary to know a current member or to have a degree in agricultural science to become a member. There are several options to make membership financially accessible, including different types of membership and the option to raise from others rather than personally contribute the membership fee. Informed by our diverse membership, our grant process incorporates an appreciation for indigenous knowledge and other local contexts and the voices of women, youth, and other groups that have historically been under-represented in setting agricultural research priorities.
Benefits of Membership
In the spirit of Growing Further, we are committed to an experience that grows with each member, in which they have opportunities to take on increasing levels of responsibility and remain engaged for decades or generations.
In addition to supporting the future of food security, the main benefits include learning, networking, gaining experience with evaluating innovative ideas as part of a team, opportunities to travel and meet people outside of one’s comfort zone, etc. In a few cases, members may be interested in investing in private companies that take supported innovations to market.
- We will recognize at least one outstanding volunteer or friend per year in the newsletter and other media. We may from time to time issue a call for nominations. If you would like to nominate someone, please send a message to email@example.com
- There may be naming opportunities for major donors, such as the opportunity to name a new variety of rice.
- We may in the future offer a certificate or degree program. Student volunteers may be eligible to receive volunteer credit or internship units.
- We are exploring partnerships with larger organizations to increase the profile of these recognitions in the broader society beyond our own membership (e.g., announcing them at major international conferences).
Policies on Non-Standard Investment Channels
Grow Further encourages supporters to engage in a group decision process rather than restricting their personal investments for specific projects. Grow Further is not a crowd-funding platform and does not solicit small restricted donations.
While our model focuses on pooling investment from a number of individuals who collaborate and make a shared investment decision, should a member, private individual or organization wish to make a significant restricted investment in a particular project, Grow Further may consider these on a case-by-case basis, subject to our approval and to federal regulations governing foreign activities of American organizations. Such restricted investments will not count towards membership dues.
Grow Further does not make recommendations regarding the suitability of financial investments. If a member or entity they control chooses to make a financial investment in a company involved in developing or commercializing technology that Grow Further has supported, or in the debt of a public or nonprofit institution receiving Grow Further support, such financial investment must be disclosed in order to track our impact and avoid conflicts of interest. Grow Further does not currently offer any fund or other vehicle to facilitate such financial investments but will likely do so in the future.