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Top Rated

Conservation Fund

CharityWatch report issued
July 2020

Top-Rated Charity
CharityWatch Grade
Our independent grade based
on a number of factors.
Program Percentage
Amount spent on programs
relative to overhead.
Cost to Raise $100
Amount spent to raise
$100 of contributions.

Contact Information

Conservation Fund
1655 N Fort Myer Drive
Suite 1300
Arlington, VA 22209

Other Names

Natural Capital Investment Fund
Sustainable Conservation

Tax Status


Stated Mission

Working with public, private, and nonprofit partners, protects America's legacy of land & water resources through land acquisition, sustainable community & economic development, and leadership training, emphasizing the integration of economic & environmental goals.

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Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 12/31/2018

Program Percentage: 95%

The percentage of Conservation Fund's cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead (fundraising, management, and general expenses).


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $4

How many dollars Conservation Fund spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Government Funding

0% to 24%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Sustainable Conservation IRS Form 990 94-3232437
The Natural Capital Investment Fund IRS Form 990 54-2058754
The Conservation Fund IRS Form 990 52-1388917
The Conservation Fund & Affiliates Audited Combined Financial Statements Multiple
Entity: Sustainable Conservation
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 94-3232437
Entity: The Natural Capital Investment Fund
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 54-2058754
Entity: The Conservation Fund
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 52-1388917
Entity: The Conservation Fund & Affiliates
Document Type: Audited Combined Financial Statements
Tax ID: Multiple

Governance & Transparency

CharityWatch evaluates certain criteria related to a charity's Governance and Transparency. Donors may want to consider a charity's willingness to be open and transparent with CharityWatch to be a good litmus test for determining its commitment to public accountability.
This charity is Top-Rated
What does it mean to be Top-Rated?
Conservation Fund
meets governance benchmarks.
Conservation Fund
meets transparency benchmarks.
Provides Financial Information
Audit Accessibility
Governance: Policies
Reports regularly & consistently monitoring & enforcing compliance with a written Conflict of Interest Policy
Reports required, annual disclosure by officers, directors, and key staff of interests that could give rise to conflicts
Reports having a written Whistleblower Policy
Reports having a written Document Retention and Destruction Policy
Governance: Financials
Reports providing copy of tax form to all board members prior to filing it with IRS
Reports that financial statements were audited by an independent accountant
Governance: Board of Directors
Reports at least 5 voting board members
51% or more of voting board members reported as independent
Reports documenting minutes of board and board committee meetings
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy No Sharing  

  Name Title Compensation
1 Lawrence A. Selzer President/CEO $630,242
2 Dean H. Cannon Executive VP/General Counsel $386,592
3 Robert D. Murphy Senior VP, Marketing & Communications $308,464
Name: Lawrence A. Selzer
Title: President/CEO
Compensation: $630,242
Name: Dean H. Cannon
Title: Executive VP/General Counsel
Compensation: $386,592
Name: Robert D. Murphy
Title: Senior VP, Marketing & Communications
Compensation: $308,464

CharityWatch Analysts perform an in-depth analysis of charities' audited financial statements and IRS tax filings, and often review other documents such as state filings, annual reports, and fundraising contracts during their evaluations. Below are select notes that CharityWatch believes may be of interest to donors.

CharityWatch's rating of The Conservation Fund also includes the financial activities of Sustainable Conservation Inc. and Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc., which are included in The Fund's audited combined financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018. Each entity is a 501(c)(3) public charity. All intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in the audited combined financial statements.

According to The Conservation Fund combined audit of December 31, 2018 (Note 15, Change in Accounting Principle) [$s in thousands, as noted]:

"During 2018, the Fund changed its method of valuing conservation land acquired at acquisition cost, whereas in all prior years conservation land acquired by purchase was recorded at its appraised value when acquired. The new method of accounting for conservation land was adopted to provide a more accurate representation of conservation land acquired for resale and the consideration the Fund would receive upon sale or transfer of conservation land to third parties.

"As noted below, the impact of the change in accounting principle resulted in a reduction to the beginning net assets and conservation land in the amount of $18,699 [thousand]."

It is noted that "Net assets, beginning of year, as previously reported" were $494,716 (thousand), and "Net assets, beginning of year, as adjusted" are $476,017 (thousand).

According to the Sustainable Conservation (SC) 2018 tax filing, SC reports re: Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons, a transaction in the amount of $40,474 involving a board member. The transaction is described as: "The organization received technical consulting services from the Earth Genome, a not-for-profit organization. Steve McCormick, Sustainable Conservation's board member, is also the co-founder of the Earth Genome. Amount of transaction: $40,474" (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Parts IV & V).

According to The Conservation Fund 2018 tax filing, The Fund reports re: Compensation, Supplemental Information (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part III):

Regarding nonfixed payments to officers, directors, trustees, key employees and highest compensated employees (Schedule J, Part I, Line 7):

"All Fund employees, including officers and other key employees, are eligible for discretionary bonuses that are paid annually in the first quarter of the following year. Bonus amounts are based on individual performance and the overall performance of the organization. The aggregate bonus amount for officers is reviewed by the governance committee of the board of directors and the overall compensation of the CEO, including the bonus amount, is established by the governance committee each year."

The Fund reports "Bonus & incentive compensation" payments to 29 individuals in 2018. The three highest amounts reported are (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II):

(1) Lawrence A. Selzer, CEO & President$167,500, with reported total compensation of $630,242;

(2) Dean H. Cannon, EVP & General Counsel$100,000, with reported total compensation of $386,592; and

(3) Richard Erdmann, EVP: $98,400, with reported total compensation of $299,502.

The other 26 reported "Bonus & incentive compensation" payments ranged from $53,300 to $15,800, with associated total compensation ranging from $308,464 to $158,197 (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II).

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