Innovating for Nature
We believe—and our science affirms—that we can create a world where people and nature thrive together. To jumpstart the changes needed to get the world on a more sustainable path, we are innovating on our traditional approaches to conservation, finding new levers to affect change and working with a host of new and often unlikely partners.
Letter From the CEO, Sally Jewell
Innovating For Nature
Most days in the California deserts boast clear, wide-open skies. These arid lands—rich in both biodiversity and the cultural history of many Native American peoples—are also ripe for solar development. As secretary of the interior, this is where I first saw The Nature Conservancy’s innovation at work, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) turned to TNC for help designing a blueprint for renewable energy development across 22.5 million acres of the iconic Mojave and Sonoran deserts of Southern California. When done right, clean energy development is a crucial strategy in the fight against climate change, but it must be sited in places where impacts to people and nature are minimal. Fortunately, science tells us there is more than enough already-altered land (former mines, brownfields, degraded agricultural lands or rooftops) to meet the growing need for renewable energy. Working with TNC, the BLM developed a plan for these desert regions that steers renewable energy development to lower-impact, high-potential areas. This minimizes harm to wildlife and habitat while also speeding up the permitting process for energy companies. The Nature Conservancy’s partnership with the BLM in California was about more than protecting the state’s deserts—it was about putting science in the hands of developers, utilities, government agencies, Native American tribes and local communities to influence change at scale. We are also using similar strategies to encourage smart wind power development in the Midwest and Great Plains and to enable a mix of low-impact renewable development in other nations, such as Croatia, Colombia, India and Gabon. In my role as interim CEO of The Nature Conservancy, I have the privilege of seeing this kind of innovation in action every day. In 2019 alone, TNC launched dozens of projects that are bringing together partners in new ways to inspire change on a much greater scale. These programs—many of them still in their pilot phase—are already protecting an area of ocean nearly the size of Germany and helping to conserve a 253,000-acre forest in the heart of Appalachian coal country that will safeguard wildlife, sequester carbon and support the local economy. This year we also celebrated achievements that were the culmination of many years of hard work, deep collaboration and shared learning. In Mongolia, the government approved 22 new national protected areas covering 8.6 million acres, informed by TNC science. In Canada’s Northwest Territories, we supported the establishment of Thaidene Nëné, a 6.5-million-acre protected area that will serve as a model for Indigenous-led conservation. And in Melbourne, Australia, we helped the city launch one of the world’s first urban “greenprints”—a comprehensive initiative to develop and advance plans for expanding tree cover, creating wildlife habitat, improving public health and lessening the impacts of climate change. The time to innovate for nature has never been more critical, as the climate crisis continues to imperil our lands, our waters and our very well-being. Across lands, rivers, oceans, climate change, agriculture and cities, all of the projects featured in the pages that follow demonstrate how The Nature Conservancy is answering this challenge. I am optimistic that by working with partners, volunteers and supporters like you, we can create a future where people and nature thrive together. Sally Jewell Interim CEO
From The Chief Conservation Officer, David Banks
Deeper, Truer and Wiser
From the Chief Finance Officer, Leonard Williams
The Nature Conservancy raised more than $1.055 billion in total revenue and support in 2019. This includes nearly $600 million in private support, similar to the three prior record-setting years for the organization excluding an extraordinary gift of $165 million in 2018. Thanks to our strong financial position, we were able to deploy more than $752 million on conservation programs, land purchases and conservation easements in 2019.
In addition to the success of our fundraising efforts, in 2019 we bolstered our balance sheet through the refinancing of $100 million in long-term debt using a creative funding structure that significantly lowered our capital costs. Additionally, in 2019, the management of our long-term investment portfolio produced returns in excess of our benchmarks, which served to help support the long-term prospects of the business while also allowing for further spending in support of our mission.
While programmatic efficiency dipped to 71.2% in 2019, down from 74.2% in 2018, this is in a range we find broadly acceptable, as we expect some fluctuations in this metric due to the cyclical nature of conservation-land-purchase activity.
The financial results shown here are derived from TNC’s audited June 30, 2019 consolidated financial statements, which have received an unqualified opinion. The Conservancy’s completed, audited financial statements can be obtained online or by calling (800) 628-6860.
Download our Form 990 (PDF).
Chief Finance Officer
Dues & Contributions by Donor Type
(Hover to see breakdown, touch on mobile to see breakdown.)
(Hover to see breakdown, touch on mobile to see breakdown.)
For the fiscal years ending on June 30, 2019 & 2018 (in thousands)
Note: The figures that appear in the financial summary shown are derived from the 2019 & 2018 consolidated financial statements that have been audited and have received an unqualified opinion.
|Dues and private contributions||595,311||791,713|
|Land sales and gifts||99,464||115,203|
|Total Support & Revenue||1,055,554||1,288,540|
|Conservation activities and actions||520,142||523,959||49.2%||46.8%|
|Purchases of conservation land and easements||232,085||306,594||22.0%||27.4%|
|Total Conservation Program Expenses & Purchases of Conservation Land & Easements||752,227||830,553||71.2%||74.2%|
|General and administrative||161,705||163,778||15.3%||14.6%|
|Fundraising and membership||142,548||125,350||13.5%||11.2%|
|Total support services||304,253||289,128|
|Total Expenses & Purchases of Conservation Land & Easements||1,056,480||1,119,681|
* % of each dollar spent
|Investments held for conservation projects||774,397||861,423|
|Planned giving investments||322,475||325,927|
|Property & equipment (net of depreciation)||141,972||126,947|
|Other assets 1||745,774||546,461|
|Accounts payable and accrued liabilities||219,410||116,595|
|Other liabilities 2||375,754||349,445|
|Total net assets||6,716,635||6,598,473|
|Total Liabilities & Net Assets||7,710,290||7,409,864|
From The Board Chair, Fran Ulmer
Passion Drives Innovation
From The Chief Operating Officer, Wisla Heneghan