Land trust prepares for drive

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Piedmont Land Conservancy in Greensboro is set this fall to begin the quiet phase of a campaign to raise $3.5 million to $4 million.

With a public phase not expected to begin until a year later, the effort will raise funds to protect new land, enforce restrictions on land already protected, and increase education and outreach about land conservation.

“What we need to do is build funds so we can take advantage of opportunities to protect land as those lands become available,” says Charles Brummitt, executive director. “There are times when, if we had financial resources, we could act quickly to protect lands with high conservation values before those values are lost.”

The campaign, advised by Capital Development Services in Raleigh, will target mainly individuals and foundations, and also corporations, in the nine counties the land trust serves.

Since it was founded in 1990, the group has protected over 12,600 acres in those counties, exceeding the goal it set in 2000 of protecting 10,000 acres by 2010.

The land trust focuses its efforts on protecting farms, watersheds, natural heritage areas and urban green spaces such as greenways through purchases, easements and other conservation restrictions.

The campaign aims to generate over $2 million for a general land protection fund, now totaling $150,000, to protect land it already plans to protect.

It also aims to generate just over $1 million for a stewardship fund, now totaling $500,000, to enforce restrictions on land already protected.

Also included in the campaign goal is $100,000 to provide workshops, public education and printed materials about land conservation.

The remainder of funds raised in the campaign would be used to protect specific pieces of land as opportunities become available.

The land trust has 1,200 members who pay basic dues of $35 a year, although some make contributions of up to $5,000 a year, Brummitt says.

In addition to membership dues, the group raises money through special events, often recognizing donors and land they have helped protect.

And it holds outings to spotlight protected lands and build relationships with members.

The key strategy in the campaign will be to “cultivate the people who care about what we do, and make direct asks of those people,” Brummitt says.

In visiting with prospective donors, he says, a key tool is “Forever These Lands,” a collection of photographs and stories the land trust published in October 2005 about its conservation projects and donors.

The land trust raised $40,000 from foundations and individuals to publish the book, produced 4,000 copies and has sold 800 copies at local outlets, including Borders book stories in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, Simply Yummy in Reynolda Village and Diana’s Bookstore in Elkin.

“For the campaign, and fundraising in general, this book gives us a really meaningful way to tell what we do in way that people can relate to,” Brummitt says. “That’s a way to engage people that we never had before, and we find that it really makes a difference in helping people understand why what we do is important, and why they should care.”

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