February 2015 - Parks & Recreation - 46

FINANCIAL LOANS

have lost this property to development, " says Penelope Pierce, executive director of GVLT, " but the LCLP
allowed us to be nimble and responsive to an urgent opportunity. "
A Funding Option in
Times of Fiscal Restraint
All across the country, as federal, state,
county and local government budgets
stagnate or shrink, some of the first programs to get cut are acquisition dollars
for new parks and playgrounds. The theory may be to solely focus on maintaining existing properties while providing
programming to an increasing population. Even though you may have a limited budget for acquisition, what if there
was a way for you to spread out your
payments for the new park over time? In
other words, has your department ever
considered taking out a loan?
When most people think of loans,
they think about going to their local
bank - which is where people should
always start. Local banks can generate
community support for your project,
and depending on your relationship
with the bank, you may obtain the right
rate and terms to suit your needs. But

*	 How do they secure their loan to you?
*	 What types of collateral will the
lender accept?
*	 How flexible are they with a loan
repayment schedule?
*	 If the worst should happen, what's
their course of action? 

also consider working with a nontraditional lender, one whose mission is to
acquire land for conservation purposes including use and enjoyment by the
public. For example, loans from LCLP
come with the added benefits of technical assistance and help in navigating
complex issues, drawing upon decades
of acquisition experience.
Lessons Learned
Over 20 years, LCLP has loaned more
than $120 million without a single default, protecting more than 100,000
acres across 33 states. We have learned
a number of valuable lessons. It may
be best to start by identifying the four
basic types of lenders: banks and credit unions, foundations, nonprofits and
private individuals. Each type has its
own strengths and weaknesses, so how
do you determine the right one for you?
While the most obvious difference is the
interest rate that they charge, other variables are often more subtle. You may
want to consider these questions (even
if you don't need a loan yet, you'll have
them for possible future use):
*	 How quickly can the lender originate a loan?

Cameron McIntyre

The Conservation Fund provided Amigos de los Rios, a
restoration nonprofit in Los Angeles, with bridge financing that allowed them sustained income while waiting
for public reimbursement payments for its work.

44	 Parks & Recreation

| F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 5 | W W W. N R PA . O R G

Tips to Consider
Start early. Sit down with your local
bank. Meet with the local foundation.
Call up a conservation lender. Have
a conversation. Tell them about your
project or a hypothetical one. Ask
them questions so you know what
you need to look for when evaluating
whether you could or should borrow
money to acquire the land.
Who do you know? Who's in your fan
club? Do you have a friends group or
nonprofit partner that could possibly
step in and help? They may be aware
of available grants or could borrow
the money to become the patient seller, which can give you more time to
set aside the money to buy the property. What about individual supporters? Could they lend the money or
perhaps provide a personal guarantee
as collateral for a loan?
Can a loan kickstart a larger fundraising campaign? Almost everyone
has borrowed money for something,
whether it is their home mortgage
or their credit card. People know
what it means to repay a loan. Can
you harness this energy and use it to
start a larger fundraising effort? You
need money to acquire the property,
but what about infrastructure, maintenance or perhaps a stewardship endowment?
Can you get creative with collateral? Not
all groups have cash in the bank to secure a loan. What other collateral is
available to your group? An individual
donor or group of donors who can personally guarantee or back your loan?
Revenue from product sales?
What's Plan B or even Plan C? We all



February 2015 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2015 - Parks & Recreation

February 2015 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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