More Land Trust Survey Results: Priorities for training and collaboration

This is Part 3 of 3 in a series of blog posts sharing Wisconsin land trusts’ responses to our April 2017 survey. (See Part 1 for conservation priorities and resources for land acquisition and management and Part 2 for accomplishments and visions for the future.)

When asked to rate land trust training needs over the next 5 years (as high, medium, or low priority, or not a priority), the five most frequently selected as high priorities were:

  • Public understanding of land trust values
  • Cultivating major donors
  • Growing & sustaining members/donors
  • Reaching new audiences
  •  Engaging youth

However, many other training topics are important to land trusts as well. When considering both high and medium ratings, at least 75% of respondents selected 12 of the 21 response options provided. And, when accounting for any priority (high, medium, or low) at least 85% selected 16 of the 21 topics.

Training Needs

By category, the most high priority ratings were given to community engagement, followed by fundraising, governance, and land protection and stewardship. However, when including both high and medium priority ratings, governance topics were most frequently selected.

When asked to rate the expected importance of certain issues and opportunities over the next 5 years—in order to help Gathering Waters prioritize efforts to convene discussion or collaboration— the five most frequently selected as high priorities were:

  • Public awareness/support of land conservation
  • The future of conservation funding
  • Water quality protection
  • Forest conservation/ management
  • Invasive species control

When considering both high and medium ratings, 60% of the 33 respondents selected 10 of the 13 issues.

Issues and Opportunities


What do these survey results mean for the Wisconsin land trust community and Gathering Waters?

Survey responses, along with the proposals submitted to our recent open call for innovative projects, input from the Land Trust Council, and feedback from past trainings will inform our strategic planning. Some key reoccurring themes across these sources include:

  • Engaging the community and fostering public understanding of the value of land trust work
  • Fundraising strategies and practices
  • Best practices in nonprofit governance (e.g., finances, personnel management, strategic planning)
  • Best practices in conservation easement programs, from the basics to managing monitoring and handling challenges
  • GIS capacity and skills, including integrating mobile data collection into a central system

As we move forward with strategic planning and prioritizing our services, we will be actively exploring a range of methods and formats to address these and other topics (e.g., training workshops, Ask an Expert calls, Land Trust Retreats) as well as identifying partners and collaborative ways to tap into new sources of support.