The Endowment’s Board of Directors completed a nearly year-long process resulting in the adoption of focal initiatives.This work is based upon the Endowment’s Theory of Change.The initiatives should be viewed as inter-related rather than stand-alone.
Retaining and restoring healthy working forests
-- advance retention, restoration and health of working forests in support of forest-reliant communities --
approaches to and sources of funding to support local ownership and management
aggregation strategies for management and markets
durable local ownership over large-scale forests
targeted forest investment zones
new technologies to advance forest health
management practices to enhance forest health
Promoting and capturing multiple value streams
-- leverage markets, infrastructure and practices to add value and strengthen social and economic conditions in forest-reliant communities –
markets for small/low-value wood
ecosystem services markets
green building materials and markets (locally owned/grown, locally produced and locally consumed)
clustering of production facilities
Enhancing community capacity, collaboration and leadership
-- strengthen capacity of forest-reliant communities through awareness, technical assistance, training, services, targeted investments and shared learnings –
best practices & shared learnings
peer learning and mentoring networks
convening to facilitate dialogue
technical and financial support during planning
How the U.S. Endowment Approaches Its Work
As the Endowment begins its work in an already crowded field of not-for-profits, we do so with a mixture of excitement and humility. We admire all that the non-profit sector has accomplished and we look forward to partnering to address the challenges that lie ahead to sustain healthy working forests and resilient forest-reliant communities.
We embark on our work in sustainable forestry and communities with what we believe are vital ingredients for success – a diverse and experienced board of directors, an accomplished staff, a sound financial base and a commitment to working with others to achieve common objectives.
We believe we must resist the pull to be “all things to all people.” Our collective experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors suggests that a strategic focus and “sticking to one’s knitting” will be vital to having an impact. Thus, we’ve reached consensus that we will try to do a few things well, rather than taking the “1000 random acts of kindness” approach to philanthropy. Even within our dual mission of “sustainable forestry” and “forest-reliant community” development, we’ve agreed to look, wherever practical and possible, to opportunities where these two intersect – the nexus.
Defining Our Initial Programmatic Focus
Rather than take the traditional process-based approach to developing a strategic plan, we’ve opted for an organic methodology. Given the fact that our board and staff are comprised of people with diverse and deep experience in our mission and work in forestry and community development, we began with a board-led process to explore critical needs and causal drivers that set the context for our work. That process started in earnest at our February 2007 Board meeting in Jackson, Mississippi, and led to agreement on an initial list of potential focal areas.
Those included:bioenergy; landscape-scale working forests; ecological services; biotechnology; youth out-migration from forest-reliant communities; workforce development in low amenity forest-reliant communities and the intersection of forest health and community viability.We augmented this work with an on-line survey designed to broadly solicit input.Almost 600 individuals and organizations responded with deep and thoughtful input.Too, we hosted a national workshop where more than two-dozen invited participants shared their insights and views without any preset constraints.The agenda was established by mutual agreement based upon a pre-workshop survey of just participants.These steps were further augmented by dozens of one-on-one meetings and discussions where our staff members visited with community leaders, conservationists, natural resources professionals and academicians.
Staffing for Success
Our approach is founded on a commitment to a clear focus and dynamic partnerships designed to achieve our objective of plowing the lion’s share of our resources into “systemic, transformative and sustainable change.” Our staffing model calls for only five full-time staff – the President who will also serve a dual role as a “program officer” in sustainable forestry; a Senior Vice President and a Vice President who will serve as program officers; a Director of Finance; and an executive assistant/office manager. Information technology, fund management and other fundamental roles will be out-sourced. We will use a small cadre of university interns and consultants to assist with background research where appropriate. We will depend upon our program partners for the breadth of resources needed to deliver services on the ground.
Focal Initiatives Workshop
For information and outcomes of the national workshop hosted by the Endowment, please follow the link below.
Focal Initiatives Workshop: Mapping a Course of Action (PDF)
908 E. North Street, Greenville, SC 29601 | 864-233-7646