More and more, the conservation community is recognizing that traditional funding models can’t keep pace with the need. At a time of shrinking public funding and limited philanthropic dollars, innovative financing strategies hold great promise to increase the financial resources available for conservation.
Where Conservation Meets Capital
After years of collaborative effort by leading practitioners in the field, the Conservation Finance Network (CFN) was started at Island Press to advance land and resource conservation by expanding the use of innovative funding and financing strategies. The network grew out of a pilot workshop envisioned in 2006 at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and held in 2007 at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. This event convened leaders from land trusts, public agencies, foundations, and private equity firms to discuss ways to apply the art and science of raising, borrowing, investing, and managing money to the field of land and natural resource conservation. Earning the nickname “boot camp” for its intensity, this program has evolved into an effective model for introducing participants to cutting-edge tools and concepts on public, private, and philanthropic funding.
CFN fills a crucial need by increasing people’s capacity to find practical solutions to problems of resource conservation. To date, CFN has trained more than 200 people on the use of innovative financing strategies. Our alumni have put what they’ve learned into practice—from an organization’s first PRI (program-related investment) to establishing a community forest initiative, or from developing a crowd-funding tool to using a loan to bridge finance an acquisition project.
Through a committed network of partners, CFN sponsors intensive trainings and supports a growing network of public, private, and nonprofit professionals.
CFN focuses on a three-fold strategy. First, the program engages a select group of participants through in-depth trainings to build their capacity and confidence over time, allowing them to apply what they have learned as pragmatic solutions to real-world challenges. Second, the program expands awareness and knowledge of conservation finance to a much larger audience through a wide variety of activities, including webinars, workshops, online resources, and conference presentations. And lastly, the program builds and supports an alliance of conservation finance practitioners including thought-leaders, boot camp alumni, and partner organizations by sharing and transferring knowledge, skills, and tools.