Case studies

Securing a Future for the Conservation of Loons: A Capacity Campaign

Challenge and Opportunity:  The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation’s leadership succession was in progress, and the board launched a $350,000 campaign to create a new scientific leadership role for the founder, Dr Nina Schoch, while bringing in a new executive director. To ignite fundraising, I joined the team for a critical six-week period.

Strategy and Implementation: With limited internal resources, I doubled potential donors through data analysis and crafted a targeted outreach system. Dr. Schoch’s personal connections and a data-driven approach fueled our fundraising efforts.

Results and Impact: In just six weeks, we secured $147,000 (42% of the goal) with an average donation exceeding $2,000, demonstrating the community’s deep commitment to the loons. While more remains to be done, this strong start paves the way for future success.

Conclusion: Even after my contract concluded, the momentum continued. The groundwork laid in those six weeks proved valuable. In two months, the campaign surpassed the halfway mark, reaching $192,000.  ACLC has begun the search for a new executive director.  The future for the ACLC, and for the loons themselves, is bright. 


The Art of Transformation: A Year and a Half with Saranac Lake ArtWorks

Challenge and Opportunity:  In May 2022, Saranac Lake ArtWorks, a volunteer-run arts organization for 25 years, sought my help to transition into a staffed non-profit. Despite a rich history and signature events, they lacked the infrastructure to support their ambitious growth goals.

Strategy and Implementation: In 18 months, I helped Saranac Lake ArtWorks build a strong foundation by streamlining operations, realigning events, securing grants, and developing a donor management system, positioning them for successful growth.

Results and Impact:  Membership grew by 20% over the prior year, ArtWalks participation doubled, and grant funding jumped by 57%.  The Plein Air Festival thrived, with art buyers increasing by 31% and revenue growing 38%.  More importantly, ArtWorks fostered a stronger internal culture, considering strategic planning and valuing responsive member support.

Conclusion: ArtWorks’ new chapter is off to a strong start with their first employee and a focus on professional development. Hildreth, the co-founder, credits the success to changes we implemented and a shared vision for a sustainable arts community. My work with Saranac Lake ArtWorks was about empowering a passionate group of people to achieve their vision. 


Northern Lights School: A Community Puts Down Roots

Challenge and Opportunity:  Nestled in the Adirondacks since 1996, Northern Lights School’s dream of a permanent, nature-focused learning space was hampered by limited space in a rented church basement for over 15 years, hindering their ability to expand.

Strategy and Implementation: In December 2020, I joined Northern Lights School as a consultant to develop a community-driven fundraising campaign that would finally secure a permanent, nature-focused learning space for their growing student body. Partnering with the school family, we launched a multi-faceted campaign that included volunteer efforts alongside financial requests.

Results and Impact:  The community’s support, coupled with a steady stream of donations and grants, made the dream a reality. Northern Lights purchased a former elementary school in early 2021, celebrated a joyous opening in February 2022, and doubled their revenue by year-end, solidifying a sustainable future for this unique educational environment.

Conclusion: Reflecting on this transformative process, a board member and teacher highlighted the lasting impact of the collaboration: “Martha taught us how to fish.” These words speak volumes about the spirit of the entire project – a community coming together to educate the adults of the future.