The Link is a quarterly newsletter produced in coordination between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates.
As we enter mid-summer, we are so excited to be focusing this edition of The Link on the sustainability of our organizations! At its very heart, sustainability is all about long-term planning—why does your organization exist and how are you going to accomplish your goals?
The mission of the Refuge Association is to “protect, promote, and enhance America’s wildlife heritage through strategic programs that serve the System and wildlife beyond its boundaries.” In order to be a sustainable organization so that we can achieve that goal, we rely on fundraising from partners, major donors, grants, foundations, and corporate sponsors. This support allows us to hire expert, professional staff who understand the Refuge System, understand Friends groups and their importance to the Refuge System, and care deeply about the success of these programs and the sustainability of wildlife habitat and public lands.
We hope you enjoy this edition of The Link and that it helps your Friends group as we continue to work together to build up all of our organizations so that we can support, defend, and protect our nation’s National Wildlife Refuge System.
From the Editor
In mid-April on a beautiful spring day, our Friends of Sherburne NWR treasurer of 14 years passed away suddenly while doing volunteer gardening at a local hospice. Carol was both a Friend and friend, so those of us who had worked closely with her felt her loss keenly. To make matters worse, not only did she handle our Friends banking, prepare monthly financial statements, and manage our budget, but she also served as our Friends membership chair, manager of our member/donor database, organizer of our silent auctions, and willing volunteer for all kinds of other small, but essential, duties. Ironically, at a Zoom meeting just a few days before her death, we had joked that, when it came to Friends like Carol, we were truly vulnerable, or “truck-sensitive” as we termed it. That is, we had good-naturedly warned her to beware of any speeding trucks that might come her way. At least we had let her know how much we appreciated her, but that was small consolation when we learned of her passing.
Into the lurch stepped our immediate past president. After all, someone had to process deposits, pay bills, and handle essential correspondence; however, this could be only a temporary fix. We would need to recruit a qualified treasurer, continue work in progress to select and convert to a “constituent relationship management” (CRM) system, separate the membership duties from the financial work and recruit someone to take these on, etc., etc. The good news was that Carol’s work was up to date and her records were organized and complete. Related processes and procedures were documented and had been recently reviewed. It could’ve been worse. Today we can report that we have used our member network to recruit a new, highly qualified treasurer; we are about to commit to a CRM system provider; we have qualified board members who have agreed to convert and help to maintain our database; and we have other essential tasks covered, at least for the immediate future.
Friends of Sherburne will survive our loss, but it has illustrated how vulnerable all Friends organizations may be, especially those with all-volunteer leadership and administrative management. With that in mind, for this issue we have invited three Friends organizations to tell us what they have done or are doing to attract, train, retain, and sustain effective leadership and otherwise maintain their organizations as challenges inevitably arise. Their hard work and persistence, combined with the support of their USFWS partners, Friends mentors, or consultants, enabled these Friends to survive and thrive. We invite you to read and be inspired by their stories. I think Carol would appreciate our adding this to her legacy.
Read About Sustaining Your Friends Organization And Its Leadership:
- Building and Sustaining a Board – Friends of Hawaiian Islands NWR (HI)
- From DOA to Dynamic NGO Leader – Friends of the Mariana Trench (Saipan)
- Good to Great: Building an Effective and Sustainable Friends Board – Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, Part of the Green Bay NWR (WI)
Other Features In This Issues:
- Meet Our Partners – The Link Interviews Shaun Sánchez, Deputy Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System
- 2021 O’Brien Prize Winner – Friends of Willamette Valley NWR Complex (OR)
- Previews of Coming Attractions – NWRA/CORFA Webinar Calendar
- We Asked, You Answered – Results of Webinar Series Survey
- CORFA Introduces Website Resource Center for Friends
- Friends Policy with Friends Partnership Agreement Approved
The Summer 2021 version of The Link has been a coordinated effort between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates.
To receive the next issue of The Link, complete the form at the bottom of this page https://www.refugeassociation.org/friends. And please add refugeassociation.org to the safe list for your email account.
You’re invited to join the CORFA Facebook group, a place to connect with other amazing members of the Friends community to share information, insights, and experiences concerning nonprofit governance, management, and advocacy. Go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/coalitionofrefugefriends/ and request to join this private group.
- Sue Hix (Editor) – Friends of Sherburne NWR
- Joan Patterson (Co-editor)—Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates
- Caroline Brouwer—NWRA VP of Government Affairs
- Eden Taylor (designer)— NWRA Communications Associate
- Friends Editorial Staff: Cheryl Hart—NWRA Board, Board member of Friends of Tualatin River NWR
- Kathy Woodward—Former NWRA Board Member, Board member of Friends of Great Swamp NWR
- Jim Stone– NWRA Board, Board member of Friends of the Wichitas