The Northern Fairfield Land Trust Coalition, comprised of six Danbury-area land trusts, is participating in “Giving Day” to raise funds for their shared services program. “Giving Day”, sponsored by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, is a community-wide online giving challenge which seeks to increase philanthropy throughout Fairfield County for participating nonprofit organizations. The six area land trusts that make up the Northern Fairfield Land Trust Coalition – Bethel Land Trust, Brookfield Open Space Legacy, The Land Trust of Danbury, New Fairfield Land Trust, Newtown Forest Association and The Land Conservancy of Ridgefield, signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month and are committed to working together in a way that will make each land trust stronger and yet spread the word about the need to protect our vital resources.
Each land trust is registering individually during this challenge, however, donations acquired will be used towards the land trusts’ shared services program.
“Giving Day offers us a unique opportunity to let many people know about the work of land trusts and support this work in a way that protects our community through the combined efforts of each land trust,” stated Guy Peterson, Chairman of the newly formed group.
The challenge spans just 24 hours from midnight, March 6 to midnight, March 7, 2014. By pooling resources and working together by sharing services such as fundraising, community outreach, and land stewardship, the land trusts will become stronger, individually and collectively.
Six area land trusts announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding as of January 24, 2014 to create a shared service platform to expand their current administrative and operating capacities. The land trusts – Bethel Land Trust, Brookfield Open Space Legacy, The Land Trust of Danbury, New Fairfield Land Trust, Newtown Forest Association and The Land Conservancy of Ridgefield – have called their association The Northern Fairfield Land Trust Coalition (NFLTC).
To facilitate the start of the initiative, a donor advised fundholder of the Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF) and another private foundation have awarded the land trusts grants of $7,500 to inaugurate the shared service process. In addition, the land trusts are all contributing funds to the coalition efforts. “We are pleased to fund this model program in Connecticut that will expand administrative and fund raising capacity for smaller, volunteer-based nonprofit land trusts,” stated Karen R. Brown, Vice President of Programs at the Fairfield County Community Foundation.
One year ago the six Danbury-area nonprofit land preservation organizations met to explore ways to build capacity. They agreed to form The Northern Fairfield Land Trust Coalition recognizing that they are all volunteer-based and have limited staff, which makes some of the basic operations such as fundraising, community outreach, stewardship and efforts toward Land Trust Alliance accreditation particularly challenging.
Guy Peterson, treasurer of the Newtown Forest Association said and Chairman of NFLTC, “The Newtown Forest Association is proud to be part of this project. Like the other land trusts that we are partnering with, the expertise necessary to further our common missions are varied and diverse. We can use our combined size to attract better resources and possibly at a lower cost.”
With the funds awarded from FCCF, the six land trusts will be able to hire independent contractors to provide shared services such as fundraising, community outreach (i.e., newsletter preparation, etc.), land management and stewardship, and documentation management (i.e., ensuring titles, deeds, and monitoring sheets, etc. are being recorded and managed.) The shared services support will be based on the needs of each land trust. By pooling resources and working together, the land trusts will become stronger individually and collectively — with the potential to work together more closely in the future. The six land trusts will continue to raise funds for this and other initiatives to fund their missions and individuals are invited to visit their respective websites.
Northern Fairfield Land Trust Coalition is grateful to the Fairfield County Community Foundation and other funders for recognizing this important need within our local conservation community. The FCCF is well established in promoting the growth of our community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. The FCCF welcomes individuals, families, corporations and organizations to establish their own charitable funds through FCCF or contribute to existing funds focused on specific areas in Fairfield County. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services, and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. The Foundation has awarded over $151 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.
The Annual Meeting will be held Sunday, April 21st, 2013 at 3:00 pm in the Science Building on the Midtown Danbury campus of WESTCONN. Members will have an opportunity to hear from area conservation experts on the opportunities and challenges facing land trusts, including Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director of The Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC) and Kevin Case, Regional Director for the Land Trust Alliance.
Connecticut has one of the highest concentration of land trusts in the United States. It is a dual-edged distinction. This high concentration is a testament to the dedication of many men and woman who helped found the land trust movement and dedicated considerable time to protecting our vital resources. This commitment is as strong as ever with the many volunteers who continue the legacy.
It is also exceedingly difficult. The increase in regulations, the need for greater stewardship and oversight of the properties that have been saved and the imperative to be sure that the lands protected in perpetuity will indeed be passed on to the next generation all contribute to putting increased pressure on land trusts. Many are seeking creative solutions. The Land Trust of Danbury is among them.
Recently, The Land Trust of Danbury convened a coalition of area land trusts to discuss what options there might be in working together, particularly in the area of shared services. The discussion led to an opportunity to participate in the LTA ‘Circuit Rider Program’ funded by CLCC (Connecticut Land Conservation Council) and the LTA (Land Trust Alliance) through the generosity of a donor committed to working with area land trusts. It is an initiative that helps land trusts assess their capacity and strengthens them as model land trusts.
According to Kevin Case, Northeast Director of the Land Trust Alliance:
“The Circuit Rider program allows land trusts an opportunity to minimize the risks of holding land and stewarding easements while maximizing the rewards of being the face and voice for land conservation in the community.”
The towns involved are Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown and Ridgefield. It is the first of what is hoped to be other initiatives as they continue to work together