Effective Fundraising for Trails and Greenways

This webinar examines strategies for raising funds and garnering resources to move a trail or greenway project from vision to reality.

Presented by:

Event Details

** This event has passed **

January 30, 2014

10:30 AM to 12:00 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:30 AM to 01:00 AM (Mountain Time)
12:30 PM to 02:00 AM (Central Time)
01:30 PM to 03:00 AM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers


Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
Learning Credits are NOT available for this webinar.

Download a Recording

This webinar is free. Would you consider a donation to support this webinar?


Webinar Outline



Key Organizational Elements and Considerations for Fundraising:

  • Being Organized—When thinking about effective project funding and implementation, we need to focus on the following key organizational considerations.
  • Envisioning—Having an inspiring plan and vision.
  • Making the Case—Why this is an INVESTMENT, not just spending—an investment our community can’t afford NOT to make.
  • Budgeting and Phasing—Formulating a realistic budget, a catalytic phasing scheme and a "roster of projects"--toward taking the next steps after the plan is completed.
  • Seed Funding—Identifying and committing initial funding and resources to move implementation forward.
  • Leadership—Putting effective project leadership in place to see the project through to completion—both key elected officials and staff.
  • Having a Champion—Identifying an effective, influential individual to champion the project vision.
  • Partnerships—Identifying key partners who can help facilitate implementation in both the private and public sectors.
  • Execution—Identifying and engaging a technical team (grant writing, right-of-way acquisition, promotion, design, construction and operations follow up considerations.) Identifying a “project director” who will lead the process (“like a dog on a bone”)

Leading Classes of Project Resources:

  • Start-Up Money—local seed and match money i.e. an appropriation from City Council—Note that most private donors want to see a local government commitment.
  • Public Side Financing—Bond issues and initiatives
  • Sustainable Revenue Initiatives—City or County-wide Open Space, Trails and Parks Sales Tax
  • Partnering—Commitment of partner monies, resources and rights-of -way—Drainage, streets, highways, utilities
  • Green Infrastructure—Floodplain conservation, wildfire areas, watersheds/drinking water supplies.
  • Statewide Initiatives—i.e. Colorado Lottery. Pennsylvania Conservation Fund
  • Philanthropic Resources—Gates Foundation in Denver, Walton Family Foundation, Papa John, Memphis
  • Wolf River Conservancy/Hyde Family Foundations, Community Foundations of Southeastern Michigan, etc.
  • Corporate Sponsors—tend to be more difficult to secure in a substantial way.
  • Fundraisers—such as service clubs and events.
  • Land Development Participation--Planned developments and dedications—Commerce City, CO exampl
  • Volunteers and In-Kind
  • Tax Incentives to Donate Land—Colorado Conservation Tax Incentive and exchanges.
  • Creative Trades, Swaps and Deals


Webinar Partners


Robert (Bob) Searns, Owner, Robert Searns and Associates, Inc.
Denver, Colorado

Robert Searns has a four-decade history of visualizing, planning, and getting trails and greenway projects built. He was Project Director of Denver’s Platte River and Mary Carter Greenways—both national-award-wining projects. He helped plan the Grand Canyon National Park Greenway, played a key role on the Memphis Wolf River Greenway, and authored the Commerce City, CO Walk, Bike, Fit plan. He has written for Planning, Landscape Architecture, LA China, and American Trails Magazines and has served as Editor-in-Chief of Trails and Beyond Magazine. He chaired American Trails and was a founder of The World Trails Network as well as being a delegate to the America’s Great Outdoors White House conclave. His current book is Beyond Greenways: The Next Step For City Trails and Walking Routes, published in 2023 by Island Press. He resides, writes, hikes, and bikes near Denver, Colorado.


Mark Ackelson, President, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Mark's career has been focused on protecting and restoring important natural, wildlife, recreational and cultural resource lands. He worked with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation from 1980 to 1994. The Foundation has been involved in protecting over 140,000 acres of Iowa's wild places, including the conversion of 800 miles of former railroads to trails and conservation corridors. Mark was one of the founders of the Land Trust Alliance (the national association of land trusts) and served as chair for three years. He was instrumental in creating the ten-state Mississippi River Trail, Inc. which is creating a trail the length of the Mississippi River. Mark also helped create the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program in Iowa which provides $15-20 million annually for conservation and recreation, the State Recreation Trail Fund which provides $1-2 million annually and co-lead the effort in 2010 to create the constitutionally protected Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund to be funded by future sales tax proceeds.

Mark has taught three years at the Conservation Finance Camp at the Yale School of Business and Environment. Mark has also been a regular presenter on local funding initiatives at the National Land Conservation Rally of the Land Trust Alliance. He has been involved in numerous successful project campaigns as well as two county referendums and a state constitutional amendment campaign.


Marty Zeller, President of Conservation Partners

Marty is president of Conservation Partners, Inc., a consulting firm based in Denver specializing in conservation planning and land protection for lands with special open, agricultural, recreational and natural resource values. Conservation Partners works with landowners, communities and counties, nonprofits and major foundations to develop open land plans and implementation strategies to protect special community resources in ways that constructively engage diverse publics. Over the past twenty years, Conservation Partners has consulted with hundreds landowners and communities to develop creative plans and implementation strategies, a number of which have received regional and national awards. In the mid-2000s Conservation Partners led the effort to develop a plan to resolve contentious land use problems around the City of Whitefish Montana that resulted in the creation of the Whitefish Trail, a highly successful regional amenity and community resource. Prior to starting Conservation Partners, Marty worked as a principal at a large landscape planning firm and spent ten years as vice president of two statewide land trusts, Colorado Open Lands and the Vermont Land Trust. He is frequently asked to speak on conservation and land use issues in the West and is a board member on the Colorado 14ers Initiative, the organization that creates and maintains sustainable trails on Colorado’s high peaks.


Closed Captioning

We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.


While we may individually agree (or disagree) in whole or in part with any or all of the participants, the views expressed in these webinars are not necessarily representative of the views of American Trails as an organization or its board and staff. Unless specific situations are noted by presenters, nothing in American Trails webinars should be considered to be interpreted as a standard.

Terms and Privacy Policy

By registering for our webinars, you submit your information to the webinar organizer and associated presenters and sponsors, who may use it to communicate with you regarding this event and their other services. Your organization may also be added to the American Trails Business Directory. You can easily cancel your registration at any time.

1,752 views • posted 02/12/2018