The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association in 2016 researched the question of how land trusts might collaborate to more effectively and efficiently build their memberships. The Association hired Development for Conservation (David Allen, Principal) to look for models across the nation and interview Pennsylvania land trusts to understand where they stand in their recruitment and retention of members.
Development for Conservation’s national research found that collaboration in direct mail is the only strategy that is likely to deliver solid results. Its exploration of Pennsylvania land trusts found, however, that, with few exceptions, PA land trusts are not ready to embark on such collaborations. Many land trusts have basic work to do in simply understanding just how many individual contributors they have each year, how many of them are new, how many are repeat contributors, and so forth. Until a land trust has a basic system in place to track such information and assist in assuring certain levels of retention and fundraising performance, it’s not feasible to engage in direct mail solo, never mind in a collaboration.
Development for Conservation, however, was confident that many land trusts could take the steps necessary to prepare themselves to reap the financial rewards of direct mail and collaboration.