13 Sep Getting Your Money’s Worth from Rally
13 September 2022
By David Allen, Development for Conservation
I’m heading to Rally today, and it seemed timely to pull out this post from 2017 and update it. After all, it’s been a while, and we might be out of practice. If you are heading to New Orleans this week, perhaps this post will help you get more out of it. If not, perhaps I’ll see you next year in Portland!
The Land Trust Alliance’s Annual “Rally” Conference in Denver this year was easily one of the two or three best Rally’s I’ve attended. The venue was terrific, and Denver turned out its glorious best weather for us.
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Vice President Anita O’Gara and I conducted a four-hour seminar on Annual Giving strategies that drew a sold-out audience, and I reprised my Development Committee Makeover workshop from last year’s Rally.
For both the seminar and the workshop, I asked participants to indicate whether this was their first Rally by a simple show of hands. In both cases, easily more than half and probably more like three-quarters raised their hands. Many of these participants had also recently taken their current positions. That, combined with the number of open Executive Director and Director of Development positions I learned about over the three days was a reminder that the succession of land trust staff and Board members is an on-going and necessary part of the perpetuity equation.
To everyone who is new to this dynamic national land trust family, I say Welcome! It’s good to have you here. And I offer the following bits and pieces for your first few years of service and your first Rally experience.
- Don’t underestimate the land trust learning curve. I was on staff for a year or so before I truly felt comfortable that I knew how the land conservation business really worked. Board members will have a learning curve that might take even longer.
- Know that you have friends. When you sign up for service as a land trust Board member or staff, you join a conservation family that numbers in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. I’m convinced there is a land conservation gene that will be isolated at some point in the near future – hitch-hiker’s thumb, black hair, land trust. This means that somewhere, someone has asked the same question you are asking. And they will be happy to share their experience with you.
- Take advantage of the systems set up to help. Land Trust Alliance has an on-line Learning Center to which you, as an active land trust Board or staff member, will have completely free access once you set up a user account. The Learning Center includes several topical user groups that operate like listserves for those seeking advice and those providing it. Indiana University manages a listserve for land trusts. Subscribing to it is free and easy. Much of the information is technical, but it’s interesting and easily filtered. In addition to Rally, many states and several regions host conferences with workshops and seminars designed with information sharing and capacity learning in mind.
Get the most out of Rally (as well as staff conference experiences). Here’s what I tell every first-time Rally attendee:
- Go to the sessions that interest you. Collect the information packets and take copious notes.
- Gather cards from those you meet and note on the card how you met them. This includes the instructors!
- Find one (1), or possibly two, things you can take back from the conference and implement right away. Focus on those few things and let the rest go (for now).
- Stuff all the rest of the information into a folder and put the folder away in the file cabinet. Forget about it (for now).
- Make a formal appointment with yourself for next April. Two or three hours should be enough – go treat yourself to a cup of designer coffee. Use that time to comb through the folder with fresh perspective. You are looking for another one (1), or possibly two, things you can implement right away.
- Finally, remember that some of the more lasting learning moments happen in the corridors and over meals, and not in the classrooms.
And if you are in New Orleans this week, stop by my booth and say hello!
Cheers, and Have a great week!
PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.
Photo by JESHOOTS.com courtesy of Pixabay.