The Conservation Fund

Arlington, VA   |  www.conservationfund.org

Mission

The Conservation Fund, working with public, private and nonprofit partners, protects America’s legacy of land and water resources through land acquisition, sustainable community and economic development, and leadership training, emphasizing the integration of economic and environmental goals.

Ruling year info

1985

President & CEO

Mr. Lawrence A. Selzer

Main address

1655 N. Fort Myer Drive Ste 1300

Arlington, VA 22209 USA

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EIN

52-1388917

NTEE code info

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Forest Conservation (C36)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Blog

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?

Conservation programs

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states to protect over 8 million acres of land since 1985.

We practice conservation to achieve environmental and economic outcomes. Our trusted and get-it-done staff throughout the country create and implement innovative, practical ways to benefit the natural world and the well-being of Americans from every walk of life.

At the Fund, we believe that conservation is an "all-hands on deck" proposition, in the words of a former Board Chair. Conservation takes many forms, and The Fund's programs interpret and practice conservation in a mutually-reinforcing way—working in concert to make sure the value of natural resources in America remain essential to our prosperity.

Our focus is on conservation and communities—creating as many pathways possible for people and organizations to protect their natural resources and save the places that matter most—properties with ecological, historic and/or cultural significance. We deliver conservation and economic vitality through strong partnerships with government, business and colleague organizations.

With more than 30 consecutive years of growth, our record demonstrates that new ideas can work, especially when created and implemented with trusted, credible partners. The Conservation Fund has proven again and again that it can address the big challenges and achieve enduring change through purposeful conservation.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Acres of land managed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Conservation programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Conservation programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Total dollar amount of loans issued

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Conservation programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

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.

At The Conservation Fund, we continually evaluate current conservation concerns and focus on finding practical solutions for the most pressing issues facing our nation, including preventing the rapid development and conversion of forestlands, finding tangible solutions for climate change, and reconnecting children with the natural world.

While economic disparity has gone on for too long, we have been addressing it for decades, recognizing that the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in America. A lot of our work happens in the very places that are rich in natural resources but deprived in economic circumstances. Many people in these areas are not waiting for the next job or for someone else to make their community better—they are creating their own future now.

While conventional jobs have evaporated in many small towns and isolated rural settings, these are the places where the seedlings of green businesses? are growing rapidly. Local food, value-added agriculture, renewable energy, tourism, new markets for nutrition and other products are buoying commerce while conserving natural resources. We have found that with relatively small investments of grants or loans, imagination and drive does the rest. Our conservation-led approach addresses a broader national challenge for helping revive communities by spurring new jobs while using natural resources wisely.

We're also hard at work ensuring nature has a place in our cities, where more than 80 percent of Americans now live. While investment in “hard" infrastructure is essential, so is our investment in parks, garden plots, trails, tree canopy and other “green infrastructure." These natural elements help create the cities of tomorrow rather than repeating past mistakes, building in practical solutions to flood management and water quality. Green infrastructure creates jobs, too—reviving traditional skills and creating new opportunities.

As one of America's most effective environmental nonprofits, The Conservation Fund is known for combining a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit. With a no-frills budget—no membership, endowment or big overhead costs—our dedicated team works throughout the country with willing landowners to preserve valuable lands and waters, while promoting economic development.

Our strategies include programs that work directly with communities to address the whole system issues. For instance, our Conservation Leadership Network is a professional planning and training team that collaborates with community leaders to forge conservation solutions that work for the future, connect regions, and balance goals for nature and commerce. Our Strategic Conservation team develops green infrastructure strategic plans for cities, towns, and even states to help leaders incorporate a network of natural lands, working landscapes, and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and benefit citizens. Our Freshwater Institute focuses on water as a natural resource asset important to ecological function, cultural heritage and economic opportunity. Our Land Conservation Loan program helps local NGOs succeed by providing flexible financing and capacity to swiftly purchase high-priority lands that come up for sale. Our green business lending programs provide loans to small natural-resource based businesses, most of whom are located in hard-hit geographies where it matters most, like Appalachia and the Midwest, and provides them with technical assistance to ensure their success. Our Resourceful Communities program works with grassroots organizations using a “triple bottom line" approach that focuses on environmental stewardship, sustainable economic development and social justice to create opportunities that preserve the rural landscape, lift people out of poverty and celebrate each community's unique culture.

Our focus is on conservation and communities—creating as many pathways possible for people and organizations to protect their natural resources and save the places that matter most—properties with ecological, historic and/or cultural significance. We deliver conservation and economic vitality through strong partnerships with government, business and colleague organizations.

We are willing to take risks. We are creative, entrepreneurial and have devoted three decades to re-defining conservation—inviting more Americans to participate in, and benefit from, the multiple advantages offered by our solutions. Traditional methods of conservation are not keeping pace with ever-increasing demand for the benefits supplied to us by nature. Today we face climate change, inefficient systems for water and land use, damaging agricultural practices, as well as resistance to acknowledge the real value of the natural world on which we so heavily rely. Our programs re-imagine our short-term human systems to better align them with the longer-term cycles of nature.

We are independent and do not have a membership, and thus appreciate the dedicated support of a nationwide community of individuals and organizations who agree with our vision and approach. Working efficiently and effectively, The Conservation Fund devotes 96% of its annual budget directly to conservation programs and just 1% to fundraising.

With more than 30 consecutive years of growth, our record demonstrates that new ideas can work, especially when created and implemented with trusted, credible partners. The Conservation Fund has proven again and again that it can address the big challenges and achieve enduring change through purposeful conservation.

We've saved places like Rocky Fork, Tennessee—a pristine 10,000-acre property at the foot of the Southern Appalachian Mountains that every year welcomes thousands of visitors to hike, camp, fish and rediscover the outdoors. And places like the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail—the route, across 10 states and three rivers, that 19th-century explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark pioneered.

The Conservation Fund has also been instrumental in the establishment of national parks and national monuments. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, we donated a 480-acre property to the National Park Service that became a national monument to honor acclaimed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then repeatedly returned to the area to lead other African Americans to freedom along the Underground Railroad. In Delaware, we purchased and donated to the National Park Service a 1,100-acre property, known as Woodlawn, which established Delaware's first national park, more than 140 years after becoming America's first state. We have also helped the National Park Service preserve special places within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Wind Cave National Park, San Juan Islands National Historic Park, Little River Canyon National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and many more. These lands are part of the American story, and we protect them for the public, for current and future generations.

Our work is about people, as much as places. Land conservation acts as a foundation for our broader work, allowing us to not only save land but also directly change lives. By helping communities protect special places, we learn about their economic needs and can find ways to fulfill those needs sustainably.

• We have conserved nearly 1,250,000 acres of working farms and ranches—keeping livelihoods, habitat and landscapes protected.

• We protect land—more than 8.5 million acres since 1985—and create jobs. We've created or retained more than 3,000 jobs at over 180 businesses in underserved rural and urban communities throughout central Appalachia and the Southeast through the Natural Capital Investment Fund, a separate 501(c)(3) organization and an affiliate of The Conservation Fund.

• We have provided $180 million in bridge financing to our partners through our Land Conservation Loan program to acquire land with a fair market value of over $365 million dollars.

• We have protected and sustainably managed over 660,000 acres of working forest through our Working Forest Fund—keeping forest product jobs and ecosystems intact.

• And we've delivered green infrastructure plans in 40 states and completed statewide green infrastructure network mapping in 19 of those—helping communities balance nature and the built environment.

Financials

The Conservation Fund
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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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The Conservation Fund

Board of directors
as of 2/11/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Jay Winthrop

Douglass Winthrop Advisors LLC


Board co-chair

Jay Wagley

CBRE

James M. Whitehurst

IBM

Paul E. Hagen

Beveridge & Diamond PC

G. Wilson Hughes

Alaska Wireless Network

Charles Porter Schutt III

Brown Advisory

Luis de la Garza

Texen Power Company, LLC

Julie Barker

Independent Consultant

Todd Carter

GCA Global

Charles Cherington

Ara Partners

Thruston Morton

Global Endowment Management LP

Jill Long Thompson

Indiana University Bloomington

Gregory Beard

Apollo Global Management

J. Storey Charbonnet

Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C

Kimberlee Cornett

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Daniel Tishman

Tishman Hotel and Realty

Ingrid Burke

Yale University

Kevyn Orr

Jones Day

Jennifer Hernandez

Holland & Knight LLP

David Bozeman

Amazon Transportation Services

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 ? Yes
  • 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? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/11/2021

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
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/31/2019

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.