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Skagit Valley Hospital

Critical Connections



This past weekend I attended the Land Trust Alliance Rally – an annual, multi-day conference filled with seminars, field trips, receptions, and speakers. Rally 2010 continues this week in Hartford, CT and has brought together about 1,800 board members, staff, and other experts dedicated to the work of land protection throughout the country.

I attended for the purpose of presenting with Sarah Brooks, Associate Director of the Methow Conservancy, on how a successful capital campaign – beyond the dollars raised and acres protected – can transform organizations and build community. We focused on the “non-negotiable principles” to follow in creating transformational campaigns and shared how the Methow Conservancy applied these principles based on their own vision, goals, and community. Our intent was to inspire people to think broadly about how to bring their organizations’ visions to life through the process and structure of a campaign.

The day after our presentation, I attended an incredible field trip with a cohort of Rally attendees from all over the country. Together we explored local museums, a colonial homestead, and hiked a mountain preserve in the area. I gained new perspective not only by touring this part of New England, but also by talking with diverse people engaged in conservation efforts in several different contexts.

Reflecting on both our presentation and the enjoyable field trip, I am reminded once again that our experiences and successes are so often defined by relationships. Our presentation did not focus on the numbers of donors, prospects, and gifts, but on how the Conservancy was able to foster genuine connections with people about their own values and vision for the Methow Valley. The Methow Conservancy’s campaign was made successful by bringing people together and helping them collectively discover what they could make possible, not by laying out maps and reciting data points.

Like most of my formal and informal learning experiences, my exploration of Farmington, CT, Ragged Mountain, and the New Britain Museum of American Art was insightful because I was able to share it, and learn from, those around me willing to share their own experiences and knowledge.

On my flight home, I stumbled upon a few lines from Margaret Wheatley’s Leadership and the New Science, which seemed to crystallize my ruminations: “I have learned in this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.”


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About the Author

Natalie Lamberjack

Natalie Lamberjack CFRE

Senior Consultant

Natalie dials into the needs of her clients by keeping a calm eye on the big picture view of the nonprofit sector.


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