Thistle Farms, Inc.

Love Heals

Nashville, TN   |  www.thistlefarms.org

Mission

Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. We do this by providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support.

Ruling year info

1993

Principal Officer

Mr. Hal Cato

Main address

5122 Charlotte Avenue

Nashville, TN 37209 USA

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Formerly known as

Magdalene, Inc.

EIN

58-2050089

NTEE code info

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Alcohol, Drug and Substance Abuse, Dependency Prevention and Treatment (F20)

Sheltered Remunerative Employment, Work Activity Center N.E.C. (J33)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Thistle Farms Residential Program

Founded in 1997 under the name Magdalene, Thistle Farms Residential Program operates as a two-year, rent-free recovery community for women survivors of prostitution, addiction, and trafficking. The Residential Program offers housing, medical care, therapy, education, and job training to residents, without charge. Magdalene on the Inside is an extension of the Residential Program that provides recovery services to six inmates in the Tennessee Prison for Women. Each of the Residential Program’s five residences functions without live-in staff, instead relying on residents to create a supportive community. Upon completion of the Residential Program, residents have the option of participating in the Transitional Living Program for an additional 12 months until gaining economic independence. Residents of Thistle Farms range in age from 18-50 years old. On average, residents and graduates first experienced sexual abuse between the ages of 7-11, first used drugs and/or alcohol at age 13, and first entered prostitution between the ages of 14-16. 100% of residents have experienced rape and/or sexual assault.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Homeless people

In 2001, Thistle Farms began its first social enterprise to employ residents and graduates of its Residential Program. Thistle Farms Social Enterprises has grown to include a natural bath and body care product line, the Thistle Stop Café, the Studios, and Thistle Farms Global.  In 2009, Thistle Farms created a National Education & Outreach Initiative to empower individuals and organizations seeking to do similar work. Following a period of continuous recovery in the Residential Program, residents have the opportunity to participate in a six-month vocational training program at the Social Enterprises. Residents build resumes, learn leadership and communication skills, and gain experience in manufacturing, sales, shipping, restaurant service, and administration. These women complete the program with the intention of gaining permanent employment at Thistle Farms or an outside organization. Thistle Farms currently employs 45+ residents and graduates.

Population(s) Served
Substance abusers
Homeless people

Thistle Farms Global was created to support women survivors of addiction, trafficking, violence, and poverty around the world through a Shared Trade marketplace. Shared Trade increases the share of profit margins for women in a variety of trades, offering women a space to experience economic opportunity and healing community. As Thistle Farms’ founder Becca Stevens says, “We are acting globally so women experience freedom locally.”

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Economically disadvantaged people

The Cafe at Thistle Farms is a local café built by the community, for the community. Thistle Farms opened the Café in 2013, creating a home to anyone who walks through the doors, whether for a cup of coffee or to join a movement. The Café features a wide variety of breakfast and lunch foods as well as specialty drinks. At the Café, residents and graduates learn culinary skills and gain experience in customer service that are applicable to a wide variety of jobs outside of Thistle Farms.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Economically disadvantaged people

In 2009, Thistle Farms began its National Education & Outreach Initiative to meet demand from organizations around the nation hoping to replicate Thistle Farms’ best practice model. The Initiative now offers free consultation and comprehensive education workshops to individuals and organizations who contact and/or visit Thistle Farms. To date, Thistle Farms has welcomed 2,500+ individuals from 40 different states through either workshops or national conferences.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

Affiliations & memberships

Center for Nonprofit Management Excellence Network 1998

Community Resource Center - Nashville 2003

United Way Member Agency 1999

Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and other Addiction Services (TAADAS) 2003

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1. Residents and graduates must find sustainable, secure employment in order to escape the cycle of prostitution and addiction that once dictated their lives. Thistle Farms' first goal is to hire 30 additional residents and graduates in the next three years as part of Thistle Farms Social Enterprises.

2. In order to sustainably scale its model and service to women, Thistle Farms must continue to increase product sales. Given current demand for products, Thistle Farms intends to expand product sales to 700+ retail stores nationwide, increasing sales revenue to surpass $2 million in sales in the upcoming year.

3. This year, Thistle Farms expects to welcome 700+ individuals and organizations interested in learning from and/or replicating Thistle Farms' best practices. Workshops offered throughout the year by Thistle Farms are capped at 70 participants due to limited meeting space, and often run on a the waiting list. In order to meet the overwhelming and consistent demand from organizations seeking information and support from Thistle Farms, Thistle Farms will create a Global Education Room with the capacity to educate and empower these visitors.

1. Manufacturing: Thistle Farms will build a 5,000 square foot manufacturing facility and warehouse space on property adjacent to its current facility. Over the next three years, building the new manufacturing facility will allow Thistle Farms to employ 30 additional residents and graduates, distribute its products to 700+ stores throughout the country, and grow sales revenue by 75%.

2. Thistle Stop Café: Thistle Farms will remodel the Café, creating a commercial kitchen, increasing event space, and building a retail storefront. The remodel will cost $400,000, or $150/square foot. In 2016, this investment will produce revenue of $225/square foot; projected revenue will increase to $265/square foot by 2018. Thistle Farms expects to increase the Café's sales revenue 50% by expanding its menu, operating hours, retail sales, and event rentals.

3. In order to meet the overwhelming and consistent demand from organizations seeking information and support from Thistle Farms, Thistle Farms will create a Global Education Room with the capacity to welcome these visitors.

Thistle Farms runs under the combined leadership of its Board of Directors, Founder/President, and CEO. Thistle Farms employs approximately 73 individuals, 40+ of whom are residents or graduates of the residential program. We have created a network of 50+ partner organizations who replicate all or parts of our model across the United States. We also have ​20 international partnerships through our Global Marketplace. Thistle Farms relies on local partners to be able to pay 100% of residents' medical and dental treatment, prescription medication, addiction recovery, trauma therapy, case management, and transportation needs. Thistle Farms has a 20 -year track record of donor growth, diversification and retention as well as double -digit growth in earned income. Over the past three years, earned income has grown more than 75% and as of April 2016, earned income is up 28% over this time last year. Our Board of Directors is committed to seeing Thistle Farms becoming a completely self--sustaining entity by Q1 2019.

In addition to the goals already listed, Thistle Farms is constantly seeking to make progress and to meet needs in the following four areas:
1. The community's need constantly outpaces Thistle Farms' capacity to meet this need. There are 100+ women on Thistle Farms' waiting list. Since February 2015, approximately 60 letters/month are received from women in jail or prison requesting a bed at the time of their release, and over 20 women contact the residential program on a weekly basis to gain a spot in the program. Thistle Farms' current efforts are focused towards expanding the organization's capacity and potential to meet the needs of each woman on the residential program's waiting list.
2. When a woman graduates from the Residential Program, with Thistle Farms' help, she must find affordable housing. Metro estimates that 3,800 new affordable housing units will need to be built each year to meet the needs of Nashville's growing population. With Thistle Farms' graduates competing against Nashville's burgeoning population for these affordable units, we do not expect the challenge to get easier. Thus, we are currently pursuing additional partnerships with low-income housing agencies to meet graduates' housing needs.
3. Along with housing, graduates are expected to secure long-term employment. While the goal is for residents and graduates to have the option of working full-time at Thistle Farms, limited physical space prevents Thistle Farms from employing every graduate. Women who wish to work outside of Thistle Farms often run up against employers who will not hire them because of their criminal records, unpaid court fees, or mental health issues. Thus, Thistle Farms is constantly pursuing partnerships with local businesses that offer employment opportunities for graduates.
4. Thistle Farms Global partners with 20 organizations across the globe focused on employing and empowering women. Thistle Farms has set up international shipping to connect products in remote areas of the globe to sales in America; however, the lead-time needed when shipping is lengthy, complicating efforts to inventory and market these products. Furthermore, it is difficult to develop day-to-day relationships with remote partners that are conducive of sharing best practices, standard working conditions, and product development strategies. Thus, Thistle Farms is pursuing communication strategies to streamline these relationships.

Financials

Thistle Farms, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Thistle Farms, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 6/28/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Ashley Northington

DENOR Brands + Public Relations

Term: 2020 - 2021

Carlana Harwell

Community Leader & Volunteer

Sara Beth Myers

U.S. Attorney's Office

Jim Lewis

Cumberland Consulting Group

Parag Desai

Genesco Inc.

Elizabeth McDonald

Community Leader & Volunteer

Clint Smith

Emma

Christine Bradley

Vanderbilt University

Sherri Neal

HCA Healthcare

John Secrest

Ingram Industries

Mary Catherine McClellan

MACMAC Marketplace

Erin Baler

4Patriots, LLC

Menié Bell

Joel Solomon Company

Mekesha Montgomery

Frost Brown Todd

David Hutchens

Author/Leadership Development Consultant

Ashley Northington

DENOR Brands + Public Relations

Jimmy Leach

Community Leader & Volunteer

Ingrid Ross Cockhren

Tennessee State University

Rachel Goldszweig

Village Real Estate

Jennifer Hutchenson

Ryman Hospitality

Annie Ortmeier

Universal Music Group

Kathryn Walker

Bass, Berry & Sims

John Weisenseel

Alliance Bernstein

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/01/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data