Nature's Keepers: The Remarkable Story of How the Nature Conservancy Became the Largest Environmental Group in the World

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Wiley, Feb 18, 2005 - Business & Economics - 300 pages
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With more than $3.7 billion in assets and annual revenue of $800 million, the Nature Conservancy has generated staggering growth that would be the envy of any business. Incorporated in 1951 by a small circle of concerned ecologists, the Conservancy has grown financially into the world's largest environmental organization. It has one million members—up from 500,000 in 1990—and 3,500 employees operating in 50 states and 28 countries across the world.

The story of the Nature Conservancy is a story about people building a top-tier institution—one of the most successful organizations in the world. Although ultimately it is a story of success, it is also a story about men and women confronting crises and challenges. Nature's Keepers captures the behind-the-scenes story of people taking courageous steps to transform and improve the way they work—and continue to log achievements that count. It reaffirms that people who weather and profit from difficulties, sometimes the most daunting or nerve-racking of their careers, separate organizations that thrive from those that do not. Indeed, the people appearing in Nature's Keepers emerge from crucibles of learning that force them to rethink behavior, rewrite rules, reconfigure processes, and reinvent the way they work.

In Nature's Keepers, the leaders of the Nature Conservancy overcome countless challenges—mission confusion, conflicts of organizational culture, an obsolete business model, weaknesses in governance, "ad hoc" management, homegrown international expansion, a crisis in public accountability—and time and time again transform and improve their organization. Their riveting story offers lessons and role models for creating an organization that has the drive, commitment, and spirit to succeed. As Nature's Keepers shows, the Nature Conservancy's practice of supporting innovative approaches has produced successful leaders determined to mold, rather than just manage, the world they leave to their children.

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About the author (2005)

Bill Birchard is a freelance journalist who has been writing about management and the environment for more than twenty-five years. His work has appeared in Chief Executive, CFO, Fast Company, Strategy + Business, and Tomorrow magazines. He has also written for the Appalachian Trail Conference, the Montana Department of State Lands, and the U.S. Forest Service. He is the coauthor of two previous books, Counting What Counts and The One-Minute Meditator. On the web, see

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