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MA Land Trusts Inaugurate “Give Back to the Land” Day

Four regional land trusts in western Massachusetts held a 24-hour online giving day on April 22, 2020, to encourage supporters to contribute to land protection efforts in honor of Earth Day. The virtual event was inspired by Valley Gives, a regional giving day organized annually by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts from 2012 through 2018.

Beginning in early 2020, Franklin Land Trust, Hilltown Land Trust, Kestrel Land Trust, and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust collaborated to create an online giving day focused on land conservation. They hired a local graphic designer to create, where donors could learn about the event and link to the giving pages of participating land trusts to make online donations.

Each land trust marketed the event to its supporters using postcards, email, blog posts, and social media. Directors of each land trust recorded short videos (see Hilltown and Mount Grace) to encourage participation. A press release was jointly issued to local media.

More than 325 donors participated in the event, contributing a total of $39,572 to support land conservation in the region. 190 donors chose to make an additional gift in support of organizations working to address food insecurity – an option that was added late in the planning in consideration of the pandemic. A total of $4,795 in donations was forwarded by the land trusts to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Quabbin Harvest.

A few weeks after the event, a survey was sent to participating donors. The responses of the 82 people who responded revealed that:

  • Most (71%) respondents heard about the event from a land trust,
  • A majority (54%) felt that the amount of promotion of the event was “just right,”
  • Almost a quarter of respondents donated to an organization for the first time that day.

Staff of the four participating land trusts have continued to meet monthly by Zoom to plan next year’s Give Back to the Land Day. The group is considering how best to grow the event in 2021, such as by utilizing a fundraising platform that allows donors to contribute to multiple organizations with a single payment. Longer term, organizers hope that land trusts in other regions of the state will consider joining this effort to make Earth Day an opportunity to raise funds for the land that supports us all.

To learn more, please contact:

Franklin Land Trust: Mary Lynn Sabourin

Hilltown Land Trust: Katie Carr

Kestrel Land Trust: Marilyn Castriotta

Mount Grace Conservation Trust: Marielena Lima

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