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Donors Making a Difference

Joe and Carson Gleberman

Joe Gleberman served on the New York State Board for nine years, including as Chair from 2006 through 2011. An Advisory Director with Goldman Sachs, he volunteered as a member of the Campaign Committee for the Campaign for a Sustainable Planet. He and his wife Carson live in Manhattan and spend time on New York’s Hudson River.

Joe: “I got involved with The Nature Conservancy back in the 70s, and I was a $25-a-year supporter for a long time. I liked the idea that rather than arguing about what to do with people’s land, if you really cared about it, just buy it. That was my simplistic idea of the Conservancy 30 years ago. I thought that was a cool idea, so I was a small donor for a long time.

The more I learned, the more intrigued I became with the work and the effectiveness of the Conservancy’s approach. Then I got involved with the Board and went very rapidly from a $25 donor to a six-figure donor. The first project I really got excited was about a deal in Mexico—we had so much leverage and were accomplishing so much with a fairly modest investment.

I started visiting projects and seeing the Conservancy at work in the field. I was uniformly impressed by the quality of people on the ground and their ability to get things done. They took a very business-like, effective approach and had incredibly knowledgeable, dedicated staff. You feel better about supporting an organization like that.”

Carson: “There are several things I love about The Nature Conservancy’s approach. First, they are always thoughtful, rational, and smart about priorities and allocating resources. Second, what they do is science-driven. Third, they’re always looking for the best leverage. It’s always a great deal. That’s a discipline that is pretty rare in nonprofits. And last, it’s a very welcoming organization, very open. The assumption is you’re intelligent, you’re curious, and we won’t talk down to you about the science and details. That makes us feel valued not just as financial supporters but as members and as people.”

Joe: “The Conservancy also has the capability to execute complicated arrangements—land purchases, easements, protection agreements, and all that entails. There’s the science that defines what is important; there’s dealing with all the political entities involved; and there is bringing that all that to bear for an extended period of time. These projects usually take years. That capacity to bring science, politics, business, and money all together is essential.”

Carson: “The other thing that is emblematic of what we love about the Conservancy is that they have a full awareness of the cultural and economic sensitivities as well as the environmental issues. It’s really important that human beings are part of the picture. That’s true in Costa Rica, Yunnan, the Adirondacks, everywhere. There are other groups that work internationally, but the idea of leveraging what local groups are already doing—not imposing our will from the outside, that’s a Nature Conservancy hallmark.”

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