Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust

The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust preserves the rural landscape of the Mt. Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee region in central New Hampshire through conservation easements and land acquisitions. These deeded restrictions protect land, limit future development and offer tax benefits to land donors. In addition to protecting the farms, forests, streams and wetlands of the region now and forever, the trust’s mission includes educating local communities about land preservation.

Challenge
In 2004, Ausbon Sargent set a difficult goal of protecting up to 25% of the land in the region by 2025, increasing preserved land from 3,420 to 24, 545 acres. This goal aligns with guidelines set by the Society for the Protection of NH Forests in the NH Everlasting Initiative. To meet this challenge they knew they needed a larger staff, increased contributions and a larger membership base. The organization operates within the twelve-town Mt. Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee region of central NH. Donors are highly concentrated in New London, where their offices are located. An additional goal was to increase donor penetration from other local towns.

How ESC Helped
Ausbon Sargent engaged ESC for three projects:

  • Market study (2004) to understand the core market (potential donors), the competition for donations, and population growth trends in the region.
  • Strategic planning retreat (November 2005)
  • Updated market study (2009) to analyze improvements and changes.

ESC’s market study analyzed census data, population and growth projections, patterns of charitable giving in NH, a member survey and comparative data on membership contributions from other land trusts. This data was used to understand the organization’s growth capacity and as input to the strategic planning exercise facilitated by ESC.

The ESC and Ausbon Sargent team set these strategic goals:

  • Protect 800 acres per year in 2006-08 and 1300 acres in 2009-10.
  • Increase membership and contributions from major donors.
  • Increase outreach to the twelve communities.
  • Hire additional staff including a land protection specialist.

Results
In 2009, Ausbon Sargent again engaged ESC to update the 2004 study
and to analyze improvements and changes that have occurred.

  • Total donations per year have increased 152% and the average donation
    amount increased by 130%.
  • The number of donors has increased by 19%.
  • The amount raised from major donors – donating over $1000 –
    has increased significantly.
  • The increased budget funded a land protection specialist in 2005
    and a second specialist in 2008, allowing the trust to preserve
    more of New Hampshire’s scenic beauty for future generations.
  • A newly formed “Outreach Committee” has greatly improved
    awareness of Ausbon Sargent in the twelve-town region.

Summary
Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust has aided in the preservation of 6,287 acres in 102 properties for future generations since their founding in 1987. With increased contributions and two full-time land protection specialists, they are well on their way to the goal of protecting 25% of the land in the central NH region by 2025.

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