Fundraising update from Geoff Jones
Fundraising update from Geoff Jones

Fundraising update from Geoff Jones

November 6, 2022

Dear Friends & Supporters of the Little Big Forest:
While email traffic over the past several months has been light, its because we have been very, very busy; we have primed the fiscal pump and we are waiting to see what the fruits of our labor will be………all in the next couple of weeks. It’s a time of “pins and needles” and much excitement.

Here is a recap:

In April of 2021, the Stoddard conservation commission learned about the listing of 3 lots totaling 40 acres of forestland with 4,000 feet of frontage on Highland Lake that was for sale, with the potential for multiple house lots. After meeting with the landowner in July of 2021, we received verbal agreement that the town would pursue a conservation outcome. The asking (and agreed upon price): $1,300,000. A preliminary
appraisal was done in February 2022 that determined the list price.
In May we obtained a signed Option Agreement that was divided into two parts:

• Term One: Upon signing the OA, we had to pay the landowner a $25,000 non-refundable fee to be applied towards the purchase price (this was done on May 9, 2022);

  • By December 1, 2022 we have to receive commitments for Seventy-Five percent (75%) of the funds needed to purchase and close on the property;
  • If we fail, the landowner has the right to cancel the Agreement. We would lose the $25,000 deposit that was made AND we would have to return the $175,000+ of private donations to 112+ donors (or give them the option to have their donation go into the Pioneer Lake/Stoddard Rocks Town Forest Stewardship Fund). Either way, this would be a laborious process

• Term Two: If we are successful in identifying 75% of the $1.3 million purchase price ($975,000), the landowner will extend the Option Agreement an additional 6 months with the following conditions:

  • Pay the landowner a second $25,000 non-refundable fee to be applied towards the purchase price in January, 2023;
  • On or before May 30, 2023 we have to notify the landowner that we have received 100% of the funds necessary to purchase the property;
  • Close on or before June 30, 2023.

In addition to the $1.3 million purchase price, there is an estimated $100,000 in project costs for appraisals, boundary surveys, timber inventory/management plan, title search, legal expenses, closing costs, administration costs, environmental assessment, etc.). This amount needs to be raised by the end of 2022.

To date, we have completed a preliminary and USFS required “Yellow Book Appraisal” (a higher standard that requires a second appraiser to confirm the findings of the first), a boundary survey, a partial title search, obtained an Option Agreement (with legal costs), and a timber inventory and draft management plan on the town conservation website

We hope to establish a $100,000 stewardship fund to pay for parking areas, kiosks, trail signage, dock upgrade, cabin upgrade, bringing the total “project costs” to $200,000.

We have a Strong, Engaged, and Dedicated Team Working on Behalf of the Little Big Forest Team members, who meet via Zoom, and who have been instrumental in conducting the PR campaign and Wine & Cheese fundraising events includes: Deborah Anderson, Amanda Bridges,
Dean Coogan, Sabine Duran, Kathy Durwood, Don Healy, Jason Kovarik, Terri LaRoche, Anita Shaw, Craig Walker, and myself.

Terri LaRoche, who is a “fully bonded” Trustee of Town Funds has set up a separate bank account for the LBF and is tracking donations and making deposits, so that there is no confusion about where donations are posted.

An on-line donation account has been set up by Jason Kovarik, where a Zeffy Account allows donations to be made directly to the bank account. The program is very secure and FREE and several people have made donations this way (see below)!!

Where do we stand on the funding?

Last June, we were notified by the USFS that the $600,000 grant we requested for the Little Big Forest was accepted and we will be awarded the full amount. We were one of only 12 projects nationwide to be funded (and 1 of only 5 that received the full $600K amount). This grant fully validates the ecological uniqueness and community importance to the town of Stoddard.

Since the USFS grant award, we have applied to the following additional sources of funding:

  • On June 20th we submitted a $500,000 request to the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP, an independent state authority that provides matching grants for land conservation info HERE). The Little Big Forest was visited by the LCHIP field site review team on September 22, 2022. We will be informed on November 16 as to the amount of our $500,000 request will be granted. Because there are 50+/- projects and a limited amount of money, we should be prepared to receive less than we requested. How much less we don’t know!
  • On August 2, 2022, 5th grader Mason Bodner and I met with the chair of the Eversource Foundation (info HERE) in Manchester and made a passionate plea for a “capstone” donation of $250,000 from Eversource, so that we can “seal the deal” by years end! After an hour plus meeting, we were told that we have a “great, great project that checks ALL of their boxes”. This is a complicated story to tell here, suffice to say, if we succeed it will make the headlines. We expect to be notified before December 1, of their decision.
  • On September 9th, we submitted a $30,000 application to the NH Moose Plate Grant Program (info HERE). We will be notified on December 9, 2022 as to the status of this request;
  • On September 7th, we submitted a request for support from the New Hampshire Charitable Trust Foundation’s (info HERE)Putnam Foundation fund. On November 3, 2022 we were notified that a grant of $25,000 had been approved!

Since the spring of this year, we have held 15 fundraising/PR awareness events

We have a goal of raising $200,000 for the project costs associated with raising $1.3 million for the purchase price of the Little Big Forest. To date, we have reached over 600 people in the process and private donations have been arriving in a variety of ways:

  • Donations received at the 15 events have totaled over $18,000. Several people who have attended these events have since sent in checks (difficult to track with specific events);
  • A Zeffy on line account that was established early September has raised $22,995 (including an individual $20K anonymous* donation)
  • The month of October saw over $40,000* in donations and pledges come in
  • The HLUA and the Keen Lions Club each gave $1,000 donations
  • The month of November is off to a great start when a very generous individual pledged $40,000
  • One hundred and twelve individuals, 2 clubs, one foundation, and one government agency have made donations so far
  • The average individual donation has been $958.14/donation ranging from $20 to $20,000
  • If you average the donations of $5,000 or less, the average per individual is $646.52. This compares favorably to our original goal of getting 500 people to donate $400 or 400 people to donate $500!!

The total amount that we have received (direct donations, pledges, and notification of awards) is $774,945. Project costs to date have been $44,727.89, leaving a balance of $730,217.

According to our Option Agreement with the landowner, we need to receive commitments for Seventy-Five percent (75%) of the funds needed to purchase the Little Big Forest by December 1, 2022. In less than one month we need to have commitments totaling $975,000 to reach the 75% amount. We have to raise $244,783 to do that.

Where will the money come from?

We are confident that between LCHIP (notified 11/16/22) and Eversource (any day now), we will meet or exceed that amount. For now: please keep your fingers crossed!!!

In the meantime, this is where YOU can help:

  • If you have been intending to donate, but have been holding off, PLEASE make that donation NOW
  • If you are still skeptical of making that donation, for fear that we might not make it (failure is not an option): PLEASE consider making a pledge (form is attached) and sending it to my attention: Geoffrey T. Jones, chair conservation commission, PO Box 336, Stoddard, NH or return it via PDF in an email to
  • Contact friends, relatives, rich Uncles or grandmothers and ask them to contribute (we all have at least one of those in the family, right??)
  • If you have any ideas or leads on other sources of revenue or can follow up with friends and family who have expressed an interest in supporting the LBF, please do that now and/or let us know.

Check out our website for the latest on fundraising with links to online donations via a Zeffy account (which is very secure and very easy to use), thanks to Jason Kovarik, information about why the LBF is so special, you will find a haunting YouTube video to our participation at the JFES Truck or Treat Halloween event and MORE!

Thank you for your continued interest and support. I will update you with any funding news ASAP!

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin$1,500,000Raised $1,381,146 towards the $1,500,000 target.$1,381,146Raised $1,381,146 towards the $1,500,000 target.92%

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