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Assessing Your Organization

A Tool for Evaluating Implementation of the 2004 Land Trust Standards and Practices

While there are many different types of organizational assessments, Assessing Your Organization (AYO) is designed Building Stronger Land Trusts Diagramfor land trusts and other groups that wish to evaluate their progress toward implementing Land Trust Standards and Practices. The completed AYO provides the land trust with a snapshot in time.  It includes a numerical ranking for each of the 88 practices followed by a series of questions to help land trust personnel determine where the organization currently falls on a scale of 1 to 4.

Improve Practices

Once areas for improvement have been identified through the AYO, a land trust can take advantage of the Standards and Practice Curriculum, the most current, authoritative and comprehensive information on private land conservation, to improve its practices.  Authored by some of the best conservation experts in the community, each course in the Standards and Practices Curriculum was put through a rigorous review and pilot process to ensure that land trusts have not only the best information, but that the information represents the diversity of good land trust practices throughout the country.  Each course identifies which practices are covered so land trusts can quickly and easily determine on which courses to focus.

What is the Process?

For all-volunteer and small staffed land trusts, the AYO is best completed by the full board (and staff) with the aid of a trained assessor (an experienced land trust professional or Alliance or local service center staff). Find a list of Alliance-trained assessors by region and guidance on how to select the right consultant for your land trust.  Completing the assessment can take four to six hours, depending on the amount of advance preparation and the detail and depth of dialogue and discussion during the assessment meeting(s).

Land trusts with larger staff use several approaches to completing the assessment.  Some choose to have staff complete the assessment first and then share the results with the board in a facilitated discussion.  In other organizations, the board may review or complete the assessment along with staff.  If the board has active committees, each committee may review and report on those standards most applicable to their committee.  Those organizations with a very large staff and multiple departments may choose to have a staff leader who delegates completion of specific sections to an appropriate staff person.  Because the board has oversight responsibility for the land trust’s operations, its review and consideration of the final assessment report is strongly recommended.  The time needed to complete the assessment and permit board review will vary tremendously.

The AYO is a fantastic tool—every hole is identified. It provides a really good education for board members and staff. It’s teaching them a lot, and it’s a great tool for engaging the board.
—Nancy Karl, executive director, Mojave Desert Land Trust (CA)


Action Steps

We recommend incorporating action steps into organizational strategic and annual plans and conducting a reassessment approximately every three years.  The completed assessment forms will provide an invaluable record of the organization’s growth and development.

AYOs for Accreditation

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, requires an applicant seeking accreditation to show at registration that it has completed an assessment against the full set of Land Trust Standards and Practices. The assessment must not be older than three years from the date of pre-application.  The AYO is one tool available for this purpose. Accreditation is a process of continuous improvement and periodic assessments support this process.

For more information and/or assistance in using Assessing Your Organization, please contact the Land Trust Alliance program in your region or send an e-mail to

To order a printed copy of Assessing Your Organization, visit our publications catalog.

Land trust members can download a free PDF copy of Assessing Your Organization from The Learning Center library.  They can also access an interactive version of Assessing Your Organization at The Learning Center through Pathways to Accreditation, a private online meeting space that helps land trusts prepare for accreditation.

Read One Organization’s Experience with "Assessing Your Organization.

"In June 2009, Blue Mountain Land Trust completed an organizational assessment funded by the Land Trust Alliance to evaluate our operations. We’re now in the process of implementing recommendations. The assessment identified organizational strengths and weaknesses.

We are excited about the operational changes that are already in making BMLT a more effective organization. The assessment and implementation of recommendations is also a step towards accreditation. Each accredited land trust operates under a uniform set of standards and principles. Accreditation ensures that the Land Trust has developed the policies and procedures that enable it to work effectively to achieve land conservation goals."

Excerpted from the Blue Mountain Land Trust's 2009 Annual Summary

Land Trust Alliance Partners Who Have Taken Alliance AYO Training

The Land Trust Alliance provides these referrals as an informational service only and does not endorse individual consultants or trainers. Those individuals who are listed below have completed the Alliance’s Assessing Your Organization training session and have committed to building strong land trusts by joining the Alliance as a Professional Partner. We encourage you to engage consultants and trainers only after following routine best practices, including soliciting a proposal, interviewing more than one candidate and checking references. More guidance on hiring a consultant that is right for your organization.

Although these individuals are grouped by region based on their office locations, many work across the country. We encourage you to discuss their willingness to travel to other regions with them directly.

Midwest | Northeast | Southeast | West


AYO-Trained Consultants

David Allen
PO Box 6751
Monona, WI 53716   
(608) 239-5006 | Email | Website

Alex Dykema
3260 Ingleside Road
Beachwood, OH 44122

Janet Happ
Geneva Lake Conservancy
PO Box 588
398 Mill Street
Fontana, WI 53125
(262) 275-5700 | Email | Website

Valerie Hogan
Growth Strategies, Inc.
1500 County Road C
Star Prairie, WI  54026-5301
(715) 248-4849 | Email | Website

Tim Jacobson
Visjonær Consulting & Communications LLC
111 Doc Mac Drive
Boscobel, WI 53805
(608) 386-2563 | Email | Website

Kevin Joyce
PO Box 332
Perrysburg, OH 43552
(419) 340-8115 | Email | Website

Peter McKeever
6302 Southern Circle
Madison, WI 53716
(608) 223-1275 | Email

Sara Wilson
3323 North Summit Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211   
(414) 332-718 | Email | Website



AYO-Trained Consultants

Jim Abernathy
Abernathy Consulting
(202) 257-8816 | Email

JoAnn Albert
E-Concepts, LLC
4366 Kenson Drive
Allison Park, PA  15101
(412) 486-5525 | Email

David Allen
PO Box 6751
Monona, WI 53716   
(608) 239-5006 | Email | Website

Ole Amundsen III
The Conservation Fund   
(607) 277-0999 | Email

Judy Anderson
Community Consultants
PO Box 617
Kinderhook, NY 12106
(518) 758-7226 | Email

Kersten Appler
French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust
511 Kimberton Road
Phoenixville, PA 19460
(610) 952-0465 | Email

Jessica Burton
Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative
217 Commercial Street
Suite 302
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 699-2989 | Email

Michael Catania
PO Box 594
Chester, NJ 07930-0594
(973) 543-6004 | Email

Sharon Danosky
Danosky & Associates
Mailing address: PO Box 396, Sherman, CT 06784
Physical address: 143 West Street 123A Building C, New Milford, CT  06776
(860) 799-6330 | (860) 799-6331 | Email | Website

Audrey Grifel
Capacity Building Advisor
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
Mid-Hudson Valley Regional Office
205 South Avenue, Suite 101
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 454-5062 | (800) 515-5012, x-153 | Email | Website

Anne Heasly
Conservation Resources, Inc.
PO Box 594
Chester, NJ 07930
(908) 655-6594 | Email

Beth Hershenhart
11 Round Table Road
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866    
(800) 710-7760 (office) | (518) 225-4057 (cell) | Email | Website

Maureen Hoffman
Hoffman & Hoffman
PO Box 621
Newcastle, ME 04553
(207) 586-5747 | Email

Stephen Johnson
Sage Advisors
49 Birchwood Lane
Lincoln, MA 01773
(406) 579-8259 | Email | Website

Henri Jordan
PO Box 94
Keene Valley, NY 12943
(518) 576-2079 | Email

Maryanne McGovern Kenyon, Esq.
Schwartzberg & Kenyon, PLLC
108 Main Street
New Paltz, NY  12561
(845) 323-3787 | Email

Dawn Kidd
Kidd Associates
92 Isle of Springs Road
Boothbay, ME 04537
(207) 633-5660 | Email

Ilene Leff
Leff Management Consulting, LLC
149 Clatter Valley Road
Bridgewater, CT 06752
(917) 287-5003 | Email

Christine P. Lent
Danosky & Associates
PO Box 396
Sherman, CT 06784
(860) 799-6330 | Email | Website

Carla Lee Lewis
109 Russling Road
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
(908) 684-1477 | Email

Linda London
London & Associates
198 Euclid Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
(518) 458-8562 | Email

Andy Loza
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association    
(717) 230-8560 | Email

Donald J. Owen
Lands Trails and Parks
35411 Poor House Lane
Round Hill, VA 20141
(304) 283-4745 | Email

Andrew Pitz
French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust
511 Kimberton Road
Phoenixville, PA 19460
(610) 933-7577 | Email

Eric Rowley
Rowley & Associates, P.C.
6A Hills Avenue
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 228-5400 | Email

Laura Szwak
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
170 Longview Road
Far Hills, NJ 07931
908-234-1225 | Email

Lisa Smith
E-Concepts, LLC
286 Stoneylonesome Road
Stahlstown, PA 15687
(724) 593-5220 | Email

Larry Smotroff
Danosky & Associates
Mailing address: PO Box 396, Sherman, CT 06784
Physical address: 143 West Street 123A Building C, New Milford, CT  06776
(860) 799-6330 | (860) 799-6331 | Email | Website

Sam Stokes
8000 Park Crest Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20910    
(301) 585-227 | Email

Jonathan Wagar
Conservation Resources, Inc.
PO Box 594
Chester, NJ 07930
(908) 879-7942 | Email

John Weedon
Hetuck Conservation Partners
142 Lamplighter Drive
Manchester, CT 06040
(860) 432-9396 | Email

Susan Weinrich
VP, Organizational and Community Development
New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON)
272 Broadway
Albany, NY 12204
(518) 434-9194 ext.115 | Email | Website

Peg Wheeler
252 W. 3rd Street, Apt 2
Boston, MA 02127

Nick Williams
Nick Williams Consulting
4104 32nd Street
Mount Rainier, MD 20712
(443) 722-0528 | Email

Elizabeth Wroblicka, Esq.
Land Conservation Associates
51 Olive Street
Northampton, MA  01060
(916) 712-4879 | Email | Website

Jane Zirlis
JVZ Consulting, LLC
131 Boardman Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
(860) 873-3025 | Email



AYO-Trained Consultants

David Allen
PO Box 6751
Monona, WI 53716   
(608) 239-5006 | Email | Website

Megan Gallagher
Megan Inc.
5618 Rock Hill Mill Road
The Plains, VA 20198
(540) 253-5162 | Email | Website

Hans Neuhauser
Georgia Land Trust Service Center    
(706) 546-7507 | Email | Website

Donald J. Owen
Lands Trails and Parks
35411 Poor House Lane
Round Hill, VA 20141
(304) 283-4745 | Email



AYO-Trained Consultants

David Allen
PO Box 6751
Monona, WI 53716   
(608) 239-5006 | Email | Website

Steve Bonner
26 Cascade Caverns Road
Boerne, TX 78015    
(210) 387-8628 | Email | Website

Diane Brown
California Council of Land Trusts
6401 Lone Pine Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 823-2929 | Email

Jim Elias
Western Conservation Associates, LLC
4 Dorset Lane
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 888-2282 | Email | Website

Donna Erickson
325 Keith Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801
(406) 370-0454 | Email | Website

Jane Ellen Hamilton
Hamilton Consulting
715 Creston Hatchery Road
Kalispell, MT 59901
(406) 257-8535 | Email

Allison Handler
1001 SE Water Avenue, #360
Portland, OR 97214    
(503) 249-0000 | Email | Website

Sally Johnson
PO Box 8327
Missoula, MT 59807    
(406) 721-227 | Email

Anjali Kaul
8826 Chalk Knoll Drive
Austin, TX 78735
(512) 917-2525 | Email

Glenn Lamb
Columbia Land Trust    
(360) 696-0131 | Email

Adam Livingston
Sequoia Riverlands Trust
427 South Garden Street
Visalia, CA 93277
(559) 738-0211 Email

Karlene McCabe
5821 North Campbell Avenue
Portland, OR 97217
(541) 231-8818 | Email

Jim Morris
1001 SE Water Avenue, #360
Portland, OR 97214  
(503) 249-0000 | Email | Website

Will Murray
Will Murray Company
1701 15th Street, #201
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 550-4974 | Email

Illene Roggensack
Third Sector Innovations
730 Bunting Avenue
Grand Junction, CO 81501
(9700 241-1139 | Email

Tom Scharffenberger
Scharffenberger Land Planning
523 17th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 387-3077 | Email

Marc Smiley
Solid Ground Consulting Group
1001 SE Water Avenue, Suite 360
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 249-0000 | Email | Website

Kelly Velasco
California Council of Land Trusts
1029 K Street, Suite 48
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 497-0272  (ext. 1001) | Website

Magill Weber
Mayes, Wilson & Associates, LLC
Phoenix, Arizona
(602) 708-3724 | Email | Website


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