Director of Development, Squam Lakes Association
Holderness, New Hampshire
The Squam Lakes Association is dedicated to conserving for public benefit the natural beauty, peaceful character and unique resource values of the lakes and surrounding area. In cooperation with local and state authorities and other conservation organizations, the Association promotes the protection, careful use and shared enjoyment of the lakes, mountains, forests, open spaces and wildlife of the Squam Lakes region.
The Squam Lakes Association (SLA) seeks a creative, resourceful Director of Development to continue the capacity growth of this multi-faceted, well-established organization.
Founded in 1904, the SLA acts as a resource to the lakes community and strives to offer a model for watershed conservation. The SLA monitors water quality, combats invasive species, and educates the public on these and other important ecological issues. Fifty miles of trails and over 600 acres of property, a small boat landing, boat rentals and numerous campsites maintained by SLA allow the public opportunities to enjoy this pristine and beautiful environment in low-impact ways. SLA’s youth programs, including the Junior Squam Lakes Association (JSLA), educate the future stewards of the watershed in responsible enjoyment of its resources, engaging over 200 youth each summer. The SLA works in close collaboration with local conservation, education, advocacy and recreation groups in its conservation, ecological and educational programs, and has an enthusiastic population of volunteers ready to help make the organization’s efforts successful.
The SLA’s revenues have grown from $575,000 to approximately $950,000 over the last 5 years. 25% of the revenue is derived from charitable giving, 25% from grants, 38% from program services and other sources and 12% from investments. At the completion of the current strategic plan (commencing year 3 of 5) we aspire to become a consistent $1 Million organization in order to maintain our top notch mission delivery.
The 16-member board has an active standing development committee, with the executive director a regular participant. The full time staff of eight and eight AmeriCorps members expands to over 30 during the summer months.
Reporting to the Executive Director and working closely with the Board of Directors, the Director of Development will be expected to continue and expand the level of development activity for the organization that engages its already dedicated, established donors and donor families while broadening the donor constituency and diversifying the funding base for the organization.
A deep commitment to preserving the cultural heritage and natural beauty of the Squam Lakes watershed is essential, as are strong management and communications skills.
A search committee has been appointed to conduct this search. Please direct nominations, inquiries, and application materials in confidence to the contact listed at the end of this document. For more information about the Squam Lakes Association, please see the website: www.squamlakes.org.
The Director of Development
Reporting to and in partnership with the Executive Director, the Director of Development (Director) will spearhead development efforts to increase the SLA’s financial resources and ability to meet its mission. In order to increase the size and scope of community outreach, address modern threats to the health of the lake, and holistically protect this unique and irreplaceable resource, the organization needs to stabilize its philanthropic revenues at approximately $1,000,000 annually in the course of the next 3 years, resulting in a permanent and reliable funding stream. A recently established position in the organization, the Development Director will have the opportunity to build the development function and achieve this goal.
The Director of Development will work closely with the full staff and board to bring to life the goals of the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. This document describes the setting for the plan by describing the strategy, the special nature of the watershed, and how the SLA has been addressing its mission to date. It concludes with an outline of the specific challenges and opportunities for the Director of Development and the characteristics sought in the ideal candidate.
The 2017-2021 Strategic Plan
The Squam Lakes Association’s five-year goal is to become the most effective watershed organization in New England and to gain a regional and national reputation for our work. We will engage our members and all who use the watershed in the management, protection, and appreciation of our lakes, watershed, and heritage – grounding our work in science and fortifying our position as a resource and educator for stewards of this special place.
To achieve this goal, we are undertaking four main initiatives. These initiatives interconnect and support one another in many ways. To support these initiatives, building primary staff capacity, including introducing a Director of Development, is also a priority.
The first initiative is to monitor and maintain water quality year-round, with active, responsive efforts. The SLA has a decades-long history of monitoring the lake and working with residents and visitors to preserve water quality. There are rising pressures on the watershed and a growing awareness of new and emerging threats. The SLA will broaden and deepen water quality efforts to assure the health of the Squam ecosystem by building year-round and more scientifically robust systems, and pursuing constructive partnerships in these efforts.
The second initiative is to revitalize the SLA’s trail system. The SLA maintains over 50 miles of hiking trails in the Squam Watershed. One site, West Rattlesnake, attracts over 3,000 people on a warm, sunny weekend, and is by most measures severely damaged and worn away; other popular trails have sections of significant erosion. Whitten Woods, the location of the newest trails, presents an opportunity to plan a successful trail system from its start. To protect and enhance the trail system, we will establish a comprehensive plan that will, through our own initiatives and strategic partnerships, secure necessary legal protections, improve and maintain the trails themselves, and inspire and build a trails community of donors and volunteers.
The third initiative is to improve the SLA campus to effectively convey and support watershed conservation. The SLA is based on a property that in many ways is ideal, located directly on Route 3, with extensive shore front on Squam Lake. The SLA will improve the campus so that it becomes a “watershed hub” that celebrates the organization’s work, educates about the watershed and showcases its ecology, and supports the activities of the SLA, now and in the future. To this end, we will adopt a master plan that integrates green building goals and native plantings, improves spaces to meet programmatic goals, and provides an accessible, educational path so people of all abilities can explore and learn about Squam.
The fourth initiative is to expand education and communications to ensure a sustainable community of watershed stewards. Conservation of the Squam Watershed requires the commitment of everyone who enjoys our lakes and forests – residents and visitors alike. Scientific evidence on preserving water quality means little if people carry on activities that degrade the lakes. The SLA must expand the number of those committed to conservation, creating and supporting the stewards of the watershed among youth and adult populations alike. The significant focus will be to promote behaviors and interactions with the watershed that conserve the resource. To that end, we will update our communications plans, including the website; continue to build our volunteer programs; explore expansion of programs for teens and ensure our programs are available for all ages; and continue to build partnerships for content and reach.
The Squam Lakes Watershed
“The Squam Lakes and the surrounding basin remains as much a priceless natural asset today as they were to the Native American inhabitants who settled here long before modern times. Spawned in the last glacial age, replenished from beneath by springs and from without by a relatively small watershed, the lakes are as remarkable for their beauty as for their purity. Their placement is indeed a mixed blessing, rendering the area more accessible to the sportsman and vacationer, and at the same time, more vulnerable to deterioration from overuse. The sharply increasing recreational activity has put noticeable pressure on the more fragile ecosystems of the North Country to the extent that camping and other activities in some areas have been curtailed. It is thus even more imperative that land-users alike, take due care in our recreational travels not to upset the ecological balance or to destroy centuries of scenery for those who come after us. “
– Excerpt from SLA Trail Guide (3rd Edition, 1973)
The Squam Watershed is a place of great natural beauty. Squam Lake is its largest water body, and the second largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire. Its over 30 islands, 20 coves, 3 bays, and 64.8 miles of shoreline offer new views and discoveries at every turn, and along with numerous reefs, present a challenge to navigation. Little Squam and numerous ponds and streams add to the rich environment of the watershed. Visible from the lake are the foothills of the White Mountains, the Sandwich Mountain Range, the Squam Mountain Range and Red Hill, hosting hiking trails of all skill levels.
Wildlife is a source of interest, concern, and wonder in the watershed. Since the 1970s, there has been active effort, now headed by The Loon Preservation Committee, to protect and monitor the Common Loon, which can be heard most poignantly in the evenings on the lakes. Since 2003, Bald Eagles have been successfully breeding on Squam. The watershed also provides an active fishing destination. The SLA has collaborated with the state and other nonprofits to protect the watershed’s great range of wildlife through research and habitat conservation, and continues to make concerted efforts to educate the public, including producing an annual Watershed Report (https://www.squamlakes.org/conservation/squam-watershed-report).
The Squam Lakes Association
The Squam Lakes Association, founded in 1904 as the Squam Lake Improvement Society, became officially incorporated in 1905 as the Squam Lake Improvement Association. It was initially dedicated to controlling the water level and quality of the lakes, as well as the preservation of forests in the watershed, and its mission has grown from there as the population has risen and changed, and ecological matters have become more pronounced.
The following, cited by a founder’s descendent at a recent strategic planning session, is quoted from the original 1905 Articles of Incorporation: “The objects for which this corporation is established are to safeguard and promote the rights of the public in Squam Lake and connecting waters and in the region adjoining the same; to preserve from pollution and misuse the water of said Lake; to protect and improve the hunting and fishing, to encourage the development of the materials resources, and to prevent any impairment of the same in the region aforesaid; to receive and hold in trust for public uses any real estate or other property which may be acquired by said corporation by gift or otherwise; to prevent the improper use and unlawful use, management or control of the waters of said lake and of its outlet or feeders; and to do any act in pursuance of the foregoing object whereby the public interest in said region may be perceived.” Even as the Board, staff, and interested members of the community addressed how to shape the SLA’s future, given the opportunities and challenges presented by today’s technology, recreational interests, and population changes, the original mission of the SLA held true and relevant.
After decades more as a “club” of summer people gathering together to share ideas and collaborate on projects and events related to its mission, the SLA has emerged in recent times as an established member of the entire community. The organization has actively engaged the five towns that meet at the lakes, the state, and local nonprofits, in collaborative and educational efforts. The SLA established a headquarters on the lake in 1996, offering a launching area for low-impact boats for the public, rentals, and a permanent home for the organization.
Programs and Initiatives
The SLA’s staff increases exponentially over the summer months, when activity is at its peak. The local population rises considerably with the arrival of summer vacationers, and the region comes alive with boating, hiking, and other outdoor activities. The SLA is a full participant in this surge of energy, running several summer programs for youth and a set of volunteer opportunities, offering canoes and kayaks for rental, maintaining campsites and trails, running low impact fishing derbies, and acting as an information hub for the area. The SLA has been expanding its year-round programming as well, offering educational evenings on a variety of topics with local experts, and leading some outdoor programs. In the fall, the Ridge Race is the SLA’s main event, now in its fifth year, bringing runners, hikers, and families together in an event that raises critical money to help maintain the trails. Winterfest, the main wintertime event, is a largely outdoor showcase of recreational opportunities on the lake, including cross-country skiing, skating, and ice-fishing. As set out in the strategic plan, the SLA will continue to expand its year-round activities to embrace and share the full measure of the watershed’s offerings.
Ecological and Conservation Programs
The SLA’s focus on the conservation of the watershed manifests itself in a range of activities, from monitoring the health of the watershed to assuring the public has access to the area’s rich natural resources. These activities, too, peak in the summer.
Water Quality: Squam is one of the few lakes in New Hampshire with a Class A water quality designation. While the water quality is still excellent, some areas are declining due to the combined effect of hydrologic characteristics and human impact. One of the SLA’s major achievements has been to largely wipe out the encroachment of the invasive species variable milfoil, and to pioneer techniques in combating this plant. The SLA has an active program of monitoring this and other invasive species, through the NH DES Weed Watcher program, and educating the public about identifying these species and preventing their spread. The SLA was the charter participant in the NH Lakes Lay Monitoring Program (NH- LLMP) in 1979, a volunteer monitoring program coordinated by UNH Center for Freshwater Biology, and has participated in gathering water quality information each year since then.
The Lakes Region Conservation Corp (AmeriCorps) provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission. This volunteer AmeriCorps program provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities. Members serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction.
The Junior Squam Lakes Association (JSLA), launched in 1955, aims to educate area youth in good stewardship and responsible enjoyment of the watershed through summer recreational programs on the lake and in the mountains offered on a weekly basis. Over the years, as the program has become more consistent and established, the JSLA has worked to shed a history of participation dominated by summer residents and to reach out to local schools and communities to ensure that year-round residents were aware of the program and had the opportunity to take part. A scholarship program for area youth, awarded to two students in each school of the lake’s five towns, has also helped boost local participation. In recent years, the JSLA has seen a drop in enrollment, especially among younger campers. This is a trend seen in other area camps and schools, and one the program will need to address in coming seasons.
While JSLA is the oldest and largest of the SLA’s youth programs, hosting roughly 200 children each summer, the SLA’s other programs are adding still more variety to SLA’s offerings. The Community Youth Sailing Program (CYSP), active since 1998, offers sailing instruction for approximately 70 youth ages 8-16 each summer in SLA’s fleet of Optimist, Club Junior and Lightning class boats.
The Squam Speaker Series – regular, free to the public offerings on a range of conservation and other topics of interest – provide year-round opportunities to learn. Other programming, such as hikes and paddles and special sessions with Slakes Region Conservation Corps members, further extend the SLA’s reach. The SLA has also worked on providing programming in water quality and water conservation, managed recreational activities including canoeing and hiking outings, and hosted family overnights in collaboration with area schools and recreational departments.
Membership and Volunteer Programs
The SLA has a consistent membership base, and an enthusiastic core of volunteers. The average number of memberships registered each year is 1,400, about a tenth of the total population in the watershed, which numbers approximately 5,800 year-round residents and 11,000 seasonal residents.
Roughly 285 people volunteer each year to participate in several programs: Weed Watchers, who help monitor the lake for invasive species; Trail Adopters, who maintain sections of the SLA’s 50-mile trail network; Water Quality Monitors, who gather information to add to the SLA’s 40 year register of water quality findings; and Loon Chick Watchers, who join with the Loon Preservation Committee to protect loon chicks each year. Volunteers also assist with running the SLA’s special programs and providing information to visitors.
Public Access to Natural Areas
While the Squam shore is predominantly privately owned and was once largely inaccessible to the public, the SLA has made concerted efforts to broaden accessibility through substantial conservation initiatives and by working closely with the state and other partners. The SLA owns Moon and Bowman Islands as well as Belknap Woods, and manages these properties for conservation and low impact recreation. The SLA also manages the Chamberlain Reynolds Memorial Forest, which is owned by the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF). These areas are open to the public and residents and visitors regularly enjoy them, either for a short visit or for an overnight at one of the SLA’s 12 camp sites. The SLA has also been successful working with the Squam Lakes Conservation Society to place properties along its trails into conservation, protecting them for public use. Of the 48.6 miles of trails that the SLA manages, 33.6 miles (69%) of the trails intersect with and are located on land that has been placed into conservation easement or ownership. With the state in year 2000, the SLA negotiated the successful introduction of a launching ramp and adjoining parking lot, drawing upon a substantial set of data on the impact of boat use on the lake to help determine the maximum capacity.
In 2004, in honor of its 100th anniversary, the SLA published Squam, by Rachel Carley, a substantial history of the lakes and watershed, including photos and stories gathered from residents. The book draws upon the “rich collective memory” of the region, an unusual one “in that the descendants of many of the original homesteaders and summer visitors have continued to live on the lakeshores and hillsides for generations.” The book is “[d]edicated to all who have cherished the peace and beauty that is Squam,” and is “a tribute to the accomplishments of generations of year-round and seasonal residents who have left a positive and lasting mark on the landscape and towns.” As a result of publishing the book, the SLA owns a considerable library of watershed historical photos and other artifacts, a few of which are on display at its headquarters, and which could form the basis of new cultural heritage displays and programs.
Collaboration with Area Nonprofits
The SLA is an active collaborator with area nonprofits and has acted as a launching pad and model for conservation groups in the region. On a regular basis, the Presidents and Executive Directors of the SLA, the Squam Lakes Conservation Society, and the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center meet to review programs and priorities, and the program staffs of the SLA and Science Center meet to coordinate their offerings each season. The SLA also has current partnerships with Eastern Adaptive Sports, the Loon Preservation Committee, The Lakes Region Conservation Trust, NH Lakes, NH Department of Environmental Services, NH Fish and Game, and NH BASS Nation.
Governance and Leadership
The Squam Lakes Association has assets of $7M and an annual operating budget of approximately $850K and obtains its funding through a combination of donations, grants, endowment income and program fees. The SLA owns and/or manages over 600 acres of property in the Squam Lakes Watershed, including the trails and natural areas outlined above.
The Board's role is to ensure that the SLA establishes and maintains the trust of the community by being clear in its mission, prudent and ethical in its activities, and accountable for its actions. Board meetings focus on planning, policy-making, and assessing our progress. The Board comprises 16 members, including 11 Directors and 5 Officers. The Board is responsible for financial oversight, fundraising, policy-making and strategic planning. The Board meets on a quarterly basis and each Board member serves on one to two committees or task forces which also meet, on average, four times per year. In addition to Board members, these committees and task forces may include non-Board members and community representatives.
Standing committees meet on a regular basis and, in addition to the Executive Committee, include committees on conservation, outreach and education, finance and asset management, and nominations. The Development Committee focuses on fundraising, cultivation and stewardship programs, and works closely with the Executive Director. Each committee includes active board members as well as non-board volunteers. Task forces, also including both board members and non-board volunteers, address shorter term goals and are regularly formed and dissolved as appropriate.
The organization operates with a year-round staff of eight and a seasonal staff that averages 10 per year, and an AmeriCorp program of 8-10 throughout the year. The full-time staff is highly collaborative, drawing upon each other’s skills and working together on the full range of projects, and includes directors of conservation and education, facility manager, a volunteer and community engagement coordinator, and an office manager. All positions cross support as needed.
EB James, the Executive Director since 2011, joined the SLA from the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, a watershed organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he served as executive director since 2006. Before the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, he was the Assistant Director of Pickering Creek Audubon Center also located on the Eastern Shore, and ran an environmental education center on Tangier Island, Virginia for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. EB holds a BA in English and Psychology from St. Olaf College and an MS in Forestry with a minor in Conﬂict Management from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He was also trained in mediation and environmental dispute resolution through the University of Minnesota Hubert Humphrey Institute’s Center for Conﬂict and Change.
Opportunities and Challenges
The new Director of Development will have the opportunity to build the first comprehensive, sustainable fundraising program for an already strong organization. By joining the organization two ears into a new strategic plan, the Director of Development will add an essential angle of vision to realizing the plan, ensuring that SLA’s goals are shaped by fundraising realities, making them achievable and sustainable. The successful candidate will also guide SLA’s talented staff and dedicated, engaged board to incorporate fundraising goals in program planning and to proactively recognize and respond to fundraising opportunities, ensuring that all the SLA’s activities are mission-focused, integrated, well funded and of the highest impact. The core challenge for the Director of Development will be to establish an ambitious course for current and future development activities, ensuring that the Squam Lakes Association has the resources to achieve its many goals.
The Director of Development will work closely with the Executive Director to achieve the SLA’s fundraising goals. Specific objectives for the Director of Development are as follows:
- Develop and maintain ongoing relationships with major donors.
- Grow and broaden the SLA’s major gifts portfolio to address the full range of potential donors around the lake and in the watershed.
- Strengthen the already substantial annual appeal to the SLA’s 1,200 members and additional supporters.
- Build the planned giving program in cooperation with the board development committee.
- Actively participate in the strategic planning implementation process with both staff and board, and manage campaigns to support it.
- Direct the communications of the organization, help to clarify the SLA’s identity and purpose in the watershed, distinct from other nonprofits in the area and recognizing the organization’s potential as well as its past. Guide the board, executive director and staff in most effectively delivering the SLA’s message.
- Work closely with the board development committee to define and guide the board’s role in the full range of fundraising activity.
- Help to expand foundation and corporate support for SLA initiatives.
- Manage the implementation of Donor Perfect, including gathering salient information about board members, association members and others who may have a philanthropic interest in SLA.
- Oversee the Community Engagement position, who maintains the Donor Perfect database, prepares mailings, and assists with all development-related tasks including communications and volunteer management and engagement.
- Create and execute a strategy to build a large and sustainable base of annual individual donors.
- Oversee organization events (Winterfest, Maple Event, Spring Open House, Annual Meeting, Ridge Race, Holiday Open House) that range from casual to complex (Holiday Open house to Ridge Race).
The Ideal Candidate:
The SLA seeks a Director of Development with a passion for conservation and the outdoors, and the drive to direct that passion to building support for SLA’s programs, membership, and initiatives. They must be a creative thinker willing to listen to new ideas and to find effective ways to engage an enthusiastic board to work actively towards the organization’s fundraising goals. Excellent communication skills are essential. A personal connection to and love of lakes would be helpful.
- 5-plus years of major donor experience with additional development experience preferable.
- A successful track record securing gifts from individuals and/or corporations and foundations in support of an institution.
- Knowledge of fundraising databases and understanding how to use and leverage them most effectively. Experience with Donor Perfect is ideal.
- Demonstrated excellence in organizational, managerial and communication skills.
- A management style that is goal-oriented but flexible, hands-on and collaborative. A style that brings out the best in people, and that respects the capabilities and independence of other staff members in accomplishing organizational objectives.
- Demonstrated professional, educational or personal interest or experience in environmental issues. The willingness and ability to quickly learn, if not already knowledgeable about, watershed stewardship.
- Exceptional written and oral communication skills, coupled with the experience and inclination to be an articulate, optimistic spokesperson for the SLA and for stewardship issues in general.
- Experience working with a membership organization, including an active understanding of how to increase member engagement and philanthropic commitment, as well as best stewardship practices.
- An engaging personality, comfortable with people of all ages and backgrounds, good humor, and resilience.
To apply: Please direct nominations, inquiries, and application materials in confidence to the Search Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 534 US. Rt. 3, Holderness, NH 03245. Electronic submission of materials is preferred.