PLATINUM2023

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 8.5 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.

With more than 35 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

Increasing

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. Our future depends on the land. It’s a fact we cannot overlook or take for granted. The urgency with which we must protect and conserve the places that matter most has only intensified amid climate change. Each year we watch as stronger storms and warmer temperatures change habitats and reshape communities.

As America’s leader in land protection, we’ve remained focused on tackling today’s conservation challenges while also providing economic benefits to people and communities. At the core of what we do is our ability to purchase priority natural lands; essential cultural and historic sites; and working landscapes like forests, farms and ranches and provide time for permanent conservation to be realized. Since 1985, we have conserved over 8.5 million acres of land valued at upwards of $7.2 billion for less than $5.5 billion, saving Americans more than $1.7 billion while supporting local green jobs and strengthening communities.

How we care for our land now will directly impact our future prosperity, and our mission matters more than ever. To realize our vision for stronger communities and the preservation of America’s magnificent land legacy, The Conservation Fund is focused on two strategic priorities:

1. Increase our capacity to be the interim buyer of critical conservation lands. The opportunity for permanent land conservation has grown dramatically with the recent Great American Outdoors Act, which doubled the amount of federal funding for land protection. But there is a real risk that public agencies will struggle to deploy this funding if they can’t depend on us to pre-acquire their most important projects. Our value proposition is also reinforced by the rapid increase in land values and transaction activity. As a result, we aim to raise $50 million more for our Revolving Fund to maximize conservation opportunities with our federal partners as we work toward the goal of buying and securing a million more acres over the next five years.

2. Stem the loss of working forests in the U.S. and safeguard the essential roles they play for carbon dioxide storage, local jobs, water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation. Over the past decade we’ve demonstrated how to make conservation a viable outcome for large working forests, but we need more ready capital and partners to save five million acres of the highest conservation value forests before they are further fragmented or developed.

Additionally, as one of America's most efficient 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 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 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 creating as many pathways possible for people and organizations to protect their natural resources and save the places that matter most. 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 95% of its annual budget directly to conservation programs.

With more than three decades of consecutive 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 been instrumental in the establishment of national parks and national monuments. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, we donated 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 protect land—more than 8.7 million acres since 1985.

• We have permanently protected more than 500,000 acres of working forest through our Working Forest Fund and is actively fundraising to conserve 390,000 acres, for a program impact of 890,000 acres. This includes 6,726 jobs sustained, 1,613 miles of streams and rivers protected, 138,000 acres of wetlands, and more then 213 million metric tons of CO2e secured.

• Our Working Farms Fund creates a patient pathway to affordable land ownership and builds wealth for a diverse community of next generation farmers. Since launching in 2021, the program has secured more than 700 acres of farmland, supporting 33 farmers and 8 farms. 75% of these farm businesses are minority, immigrant and/or woman-owned.

• 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.

• 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.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

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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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Conservation Fund

Board of directors
as of 06/22/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Daniel Tishman

Tishman Hotel and Realty


Board co-chair

Paul Hagen

Beveridge & Diamond PC

James M. Whitehurst

IBM

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

Houlihan Lokey

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

Ingrid Burke

Yale University

Kevyn Orr

Jones Day

Jennifer Hernandez

Holland & Knight LLP

David Bozeman

Ford Motor Company

Jay F. Wagley

CBRE

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 10/12/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/21/2022

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.