Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

Conservation where you live

GuideStar Charity Check

Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

EIN: 39-1452825


Groundswell Conservancy protects special places, forever.

Notes from the nonprofit

Our vision is a world filled with green places where communities thrive.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Angela West Blank

Main address


Madison, WI 53703-4537 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation

Natural Heritage Land Trust



Subject area info


Population served info



NTEE code info

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We help ensure that everyone has a green place close to home where they can enjoy life and build community.

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 Easements

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and an easement holder (such as a qualified non-profit conservation organization like Groundswell Conservancy or a unit of government) to protect land by permanently restricting certain uses.

A conservation easement is voluntary.

A landowner voluntarily chooses to place a conservation easement on his or her land; Groundswell can not make a landowner sign a conservation easement.

A conservation easement is permanent.

A conservation easement is attached to the deed of the property and stays with the land even after ownership changes. Because a conservation easement is permanent, a landowner needs to be sure that placing a conservation easement on his/her property is the right choice. It is a similar situation to selling a portion of a farm for development; the landowner should not expect to be able to get that land back if he/she changes his/her mind in the future.

A conservation easement is flexible.

Conservation easements can help landowners accomplish different goals, including keeping farmland available for production, or protecting a cherished piece of land from development.

Population(s) Served

Groundswell Conservancy is working in partnership with the Patrick Marsh Conservancy, local residents, groups including the Discovery Club at Patrick Marsh Middle School, and local governments to manage and restore wildlife habitat at Patrick Marsh and create trails that connect the protected properties at the Marsh with surrounding neighborhoods, making it an inviting place to visit. Patrick Marsh is open to the public for hiking, nature study, and other activities.

Population(s) Served

The valley encompasses a landscape of approximately 20,000 acres and includes the villages of Cross Plains, Black Earth, and Mazomanie. Two main tributaries, Vermont Creek and Garfoot Creek, feed into Black Earth Creek as it makes its way to the Wisconsin River. Since 2001, the Natural Heritage Land Trust has protected more than 900 acres of land in the valley through the purchase of land and conservation easements. More land conservation projects are in the works, as Groundswell continues to collaborate with local landowners and communities to protect the lands and waters of the Black Earth Creek valley.

Population(s) Served

Westport Prairie is a 227-acre wildlife area on the east side of Waunakee, WI. With 1.5 miles of trails, visitors are invited to explore the prairies and 14-acre drumlin. Recreation opportunities include wildlife viewing, cross country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, hunting and trapping. Land at Westport Prairie is protected by the Wisconsin DNR and Groundswell Conservancy. Groundswell manages Westport Prairie in partnership with local residents, The Prairie Enthusiasts, nearby Waunakee High School, Wisconsin DNR, and local governments. We maintain and improve Westport Prairie to connect people to the land and to each other.

Population(s) Served

On Earth Day 1997, the Town of Dunn made Wisconsin history. It entered into an agreement to permanently protect 147 acres of farmland from development. By granting a conservation easement to the Town, the owners of this farmland became the first participants in Dunn’s new Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. Now, more than two decades later, the Town of Dunn and Groundswell Conservancy hold conservation easements that permanently protect 4,000 acres of working agricultural land across 33 farms. That’s roughly 20% of the Town’s land base—an impressive achievement with a long, passion-driven history. Groundswell has partnered with the Town of Dunn since 1997. We act independently from government—and changes in leadership—to ensure the Town’s and farmers’ conservation goals will always be upheld. We annually visit the properties to ensure that the conservation goals are being upheld and the Town’s investment stays secured.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups

Where we work


Wisconsin Land Trust of the Year 2010

Gathering Waters Conservancy

Conservationist of the Year 2017

Gathering Waters Conservancy

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Related Program

Conservation Easements

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Since 1983 Groundswell Conservancy has permanently protected more than 14,000 acres in South Central Wisconsin.

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Groundswell Conservancy offers a free field trip series annually to get people out on the land and into nature.

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.

We are a nonprofit, community-based organization that conserves land by permanently protecting land — primarily through the purchase or acceptance of donations of land or conservation easements. Groundswell Conservancy protects natural areas, wildlife habitat, working farms, healthy lakes and streams, and recreation land to provide a high quality of life in the Dane County, Wisconsin region.

To accomplish our goals, we:

Work with interested landowners to protect important conservation lands through land protection agreements called conservation easements. We also buy land to create nature preserves and parks that are open to the public for hiking, hunting, bird-watching and other outdoor activities.
Monitor and manage protected land.
Develop and advance land protection strategies.
Build community understanding of, and support for, our work.

Groundswell Conservancy has strong partnerships with other motivated and dedicated groups and organizations. We will continue to partner with interested organizations and communities to protect even more local spaces. We are a community based organization that has enjoyed great success through partnership.

We are a strong, small, and effective organization. We have a knowledgeable, dedicated, and passion driven staff and solid base of supporters that work hard to protect the local land we all love. Executive Director Jim Welsh has more than 20 years of experience in land conservation.

Groundswell Conservancy has permanently protected over 13,100 acres of cherished local land. That includes farmland, wetlands, prairie's, and oak savannas. In 2014 we were able to permanently protect a portion of John Muir's original homestead in Marquette County, WI.

In 2021, we were awarded re-accreditation. Accredited land trusts are authorized to display a seal indicating to the public that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.

We still have a lot of work to do. Each landscape has its own reasons about why it is important to protect. From the high quality soils and great fishing of the Black Earth Creek valley to the noteworthy bird habitat and accessible outdoor classroom of Patrick Marsh, every place has its own story. We aim to make sure these stories are told and help the community come together to protect these places.

There is still a long list of places that need protection, so much we still need to accomplish.

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?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

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

    We collect feedback every 5 years during our strategic planning process

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 12.33 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.3 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 11% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $752,698 $629,251 $448,616 $905,520 $286,903
As % of expenses 28.1% 58.9% 47.5% 54.3% 11.8%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $751,934 $627,806 $447,648 $904,750 $286,133
As % of expenses 28.0% 58.7% 47.4% 54.3% 11.8%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $3,405,749 $1,702,810 $1,084,404 $3,200,738 $2,689,100
Total revenue, % change over prior year 363.9% -50.0% -36.3% 195.2% -16.0%
Program services revenue 0.8% 3.5% 4.8% 2.3% 0.4%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.6% 1.0% 1.8% 0.8% 1.2%
Government grants 80.4% 68.4% 32.7% 35.4% 22.6%
All other grants and contributions 18.0% 26.3% 60.2% 49.2% 76.7%
Other revenue 0.2% 0.7% 0.4% 12.3% -0.9%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $2,680,826 $1,067,608 $943,604 $1,666,913 $2,421,797
Total expenses, % change over prior year 504.8% -60.2% -11.6% 76.7% 45.3%
Personnel 11.1% 30.5% 40.0% 27.2% 22.7%
Professional fees 2.4% 6.6% 8.6% 7.0% 4.2%
Occupancy 1.1% 3.2% 4.6% 2.0% 2.1%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 44.7% 16.1% 4.0% 25.3% 43.1%
All other expenses 40.7% 43.5% 42.8% 38.6% 27.9%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Total expenses (after depreciation) $2,681,590 $1,069,053 $944,572 $1,667,683 $2,422,567
One month of savings $223,402 $88,967 $78,634 $138,909 $201,816
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $699,971 $636,250 $52,300 $422,782 $278,994
Total full costs (estimated) $3,604,963 $1,794,270 $1,075,506 $2,229,374 $2,903,377

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Months of cash 0.7 2.5 3.7 1.3 4.9
Months of cash and investments 3.8 10.2 14.6 6.4 8.7
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 4.2 10.6 17.0 13.1 9.1
Balance sheet composition info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Cash $146,398 $226,114 $289,467 $182,335 $991,426
Investments $698,353 $681,693 $859,005 $702,131 $754,670
Receivables $34,286 $36,256 $0 $297,267 $114,245
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $6,489,454 $7,125,704 $7,178,004 $7,600,786 $7,879,780
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 1.0% 2.0% 1.2% 1.0% 3.4%
Unrestricted net assets $7,430,623 $8,058,429 $8,506,077 $9,410,827 $9,696,960
Temporarily restricted net assets $469,555 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $469,555 $438,352 $453,529 $528,163 $605,871
Total net assets $7,900,178 $8,496,781 $8,959,606 $9,938,990 $10,302,831

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Angela West Blank

Angela joined Groundswell in spring of 2022. She has a depth of nonprofit experience advocating for conservation and underrepresented communities. As former Director of Strategic Development for Wisconsin Conservation Voters, she oversaw the development program and played a leading role in strategy and capacity building. She also helped support and amplify Indigenous voices through the organization’s Native Vote program – one of her proudest achievements. Awakening people to and connecting them with the wonder and power of nature is her passion and the first step towards protecting our lands and our planet. Angela grew up between the mighty Mississippi and Rock Rivers and spent her early years hiking through woods that were once part of the Sac and Fox Nation. Some of her best memories are of taking long walks along the river with her father, watching bald eagles fly overhead, and talking about her hopes and dreams for making the world a better place.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Groundswell Conservancy, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 07/10/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Tracy Wiklund

Retired-UW Madison

Board co-chair

Alexandria Baker


Tracy Wiklund

Retired UW-Madison

Curt Bjurlin

On sabbatical

Alton Multhauf

First Business Bank

Alexandria Baker

Clean Wisconsin

Rodee Schneider

UW-Madison Communications

Lizzie Condon

WI Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters

Susan Hoffman


Todd Shucha

Waunakee Community HS

Sara Walling

Clean Wisconsin

Forrest Woolworth


Laura Hanson

Cate Harrington

Retired The Nature Conservancy

Davin Lopez


Rachel Snyder


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? Yes
  • 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 7/10/2024

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


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/19/2024

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.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.