Standard 1: Mission
The land trust has a clear mission that serves a public interest, and all programs support that mission.
A land trust has the responsibility to act in ways that benefit public rather than private interests. Everyone connected with a land trust’s governance should have a similar understanding of the organization’s mission in the event that the group is asked to take on programs and transactions that further individual interests but that do not advance the public purposes for which the land trust was organized. Land trust goals and programs implementing the mission may change over time, but change should be a deliberate decision. In establishing its mission, goals and programs, the land trust should reflect the needs and priorities of its constituency. Support from the community is essential for sustaining conservation over time, meeting conservation goals, defending conservation actions and obtaining financial support.
- Charitable Purposes Preservation Act, SBC 2004, c. 59, s. 3
- Review of the act: http://www.carters.ca/pub/bulletin/charity/2007/chylb122.htm
- Society Act, RSBC 1996, c. 433, s. 27.
- Canada Corporations Act, RSC 1970, c. C-32.
The board adopts, and periodically reviews, a mission statement that specifies the public interest(s) served by the organization.
These are the “planning practices” and specify the need for a clear mission statement and a process, such as a strategic plan, for establishing and evaluating land trust programs. A mission statement is important in that it embodies the work of the land trust, why it exists and how it conducts its business. The mission statement can be used in bylaws, in charitable applications, in soliciting charitable donations, in fundraising activities and to explain the land trust’s work to the public. It forms the touchstone for the organization. Land trusts may also wish to consider developing a vision statement that addresses the direction of the land trust over the long term.
Likewise, some form of forward-looking plan with strategic goals is also essential for a land trust. How complicated this process is, how long it takes and what it encompasses depends on the particular circumstances of each land trust. A young, small land trust may use a simpler and quicker planning process than an established organization with multiple programs and a large staff. Regular oversight of strategic planning direction is clearly a board responsibility, though implementation is usually left to the staff. In either case, planning enables a land trust to chart its future and ensure that it is able to meet the land protection and stewardship obligations it accepts. Both the mission statement and planninneeds and priorities of the constituency the land trust serves.
BC Assessment Questions
- Does the mission statement still reflect a public interest that the organization wants to serve?
- Which land trust activities and programs address that public interest? Which do not?
CLTA Assessment Questions
- How does the land trust mission address the public interest?