Time to celebrate Protecting the Forest, Achieving $1.5M Milestone
Time to celebrate Protecting the Forest, Achieving $1.5M Milestone

Time to celebrate Protecting the Forest, Achieving $1.5M Milestone

What a triumphant fundraising journey: Community unites to protect cherished forest, achieves $1.5M goal. Celebrate the victory! The following message is from Geoff Jones:

Dear Friends:

I am happy to give you this LBF update, one we have all been waiting for:

On April 9th I submitted a grant to an anonymous foundation somewhere in Maine, at the behest of Trust for Public Lands.   I requested them to consider a “capstone donation” of $92,000 so we could complete our fundraising for the LBF before the July 7th closing.

On May 2nd, I received an email stating that “the advisors to the foundation have approved the grant of $92,000 for the full amount requested”.  Eighteen days later, on Saturday May 20th I had a check for $92,000 in my hand.

In between this effort (as many of you know), the voters of Stoddard approved an article for $63,000, to be used for any needed or unexpected costs associated with the closing.  This full amount will be returned to the town coffers once the town owns the land and pays the associated project costs. 

However, it looks as though we might not need any of it, but it’s nice to have a safety net!!!

My head is spinning at the speed at which this all transpired:  less than seven weeks from the submission of the grant to the anonymous foundation to the receipt of the check, is mind boggling. 

In fact the whole LBF fundraising effort has been “jaw dropping”:  we started fundraising in earnest in March of 2022, to raise $25,000 for the first down payment (a full 2 months before we would have a signed option agreement).  A month later we had over $30,000 for nearly 40 donors!  I knew then, we would succeed!

We completed the full fund drive in 14 months:  that’s an average of $100,000/ month.  You all answered the call, some of you in Sept. of 2021 with seed money for the drone video and stills that produced the iconic images of the LBF and Highland Lake,   and many of you made contributions, in March of 2022, when we desperately needed money for the advanced down payment (non-refundable, BUT applicable to the purchase prices).

Looking back, this project set its roots at a time of great national uncertainty:  the economy was experience aftershocks from two years of a pandemic and 4 years of political strife.  It was toying with threats of a recession followed by high inflation that continues today; our country is still suffering from the political divisiveness that sows seeds of doubt in donors threatening our fundraising goals; a very scary war in Ukraine erupted in the middle of this undertaking that could spread like wildfire globally, if we aren’t careful.  Today the war continues to rage on and we have the continued denial of dealing with the very real threats of climate change. 

All of these threats are good reasons for people to not donate to anything! 

The good news:  donors proved to us that land protection is important even in these tumultuous times! 

Two hundred and eighty one (281) of you collectively donated $211,482 dollars!!! 

The JFES students, with their donations being matched, leveraged their amounts to over $5,000 which was one of the main reasons the anonymous foundation made a speedy and decisive contribution of $92,000.  (One could argue that the JFES students helped raise nearly $100,000, because their small contributes primed the fiscal pump for some really big money!!!!)  

For anyone to undertake such an endeavor with this chaos:  one has to be either very naïve or very bold and undaunted to not only undertake this “Impossible Dream”, but to keep one’s eye on the prize and ignore the background noise, tempered with the motto:  “failure is not an option”. 

What kept me/us going these past two years, when the springs were starting to bend under the weight:  an incredible ecological treasure that was right under our noses begging to be saved and school children who were waiting to experience “the best days of their lives” ……. with their favorite “hike teacher”……and your incredible support ranging from $20 donations to over $20,000; donating your time and energy to 15 fundraising events that raised awareness, demonstrated community support, and raised money not only in individual donations: but your efforts didn’t go unnoticed by some big donors and foundations: 7 foundations donated $258,500!!!!. 

We should all feel good about what we have accomplished.

While many of you may send praises my way, let me remind you:  “there is no ‘I’ in team”!  Make no mistake this was a team/community effort!

The forest, the school kids and your support are what have helped keep me grounded and motivated, for which I will be eternally grateful!

With the arrival of the check from the anonymous foundation, we have reached our fundraising goal of $1.5 million ($1.3 for purchase; $100,000 for stewardship, and $100,000 for project costs of which we have spent $82,000+ and I suspect we will exceed our budget, so it’s nice to have a cushion).

We have a little over $21,000 left on the $110,000 match, made possible by 4 friends of the LBF.  We will continue our fundraising efforts until we have met this match (all going into the LBF stewardship fund.

Meanwhile, thanks for your incredible collective, creative and inspirational support!  This is one for the history books.

Once the closing date of July 7th has passed………keep an eye on the lookout for a grand celebration somewhere………….OK?


GeoffGeoffrey T. Jones
Consulting Forester #151

We did it

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