Impact-Driven Conservation Investment

There has never been a better time to invest in water quality solutions than right now.

As top executives look to strengthen their business models in an ever-evolving, highly competitive global economy, one of the key factors in their success is demonstrating to their customers, employees, and the community that their presence in the market is driving the change their value statements espouse. It’s with this need in mind that the Great Outdoors Foundation developed our Conservation Fund, an environmentally focused investment tool that touts a guaranteed 4:1 public-to-private funding ratio. It matches value-driven investors with high-impact conservation initiatives, ultimately unlocking additional capital for the environment and positive change for the communities in which they operate.

The Great Outdoors Foundation launched its Conservation Fund last year with the goal of advancing voluntary water quality solutions within targeted watersheds by combining public funding with private investments. To date, we’ve secured more than $2 million in capital which will be used in an exponential capacity to improve water quality. This multiplication factor occurs via capital stacking that leverages private investments to unlock public funding. This inventive way of fund sourcing allows for flexible solutions that increase the number of conservation practices along our waterways, ultimately creating efficiencies and removing barriers to implementation.

One of our most recent Conservation Fund successes involves our partnership with Athene USA. Wanting to play a leading role in water quality improvement in Iowa, Athene connected with the Great Outdoors Foundation to donate $1.8 million of their corporate sustainability funds toward our work. We were then able to take a small portion of that initial investment, $100,000, to activate more than $1.3 million in public funding for an urban wetland project in Polk County. This 13:1 public-to-private funding ratio implemented permanent infrastructure to treat stormwater, reduce erosion, and create flood storage for more than 400 acres of untreated urban drainage.

This partnership embodies the vision of the Conservation Fund: a win for private business, and a win for our environment. Not only does an investment like this garner an excellent ROI, but it also attracts employees, with 70% of prospective candidates looking to work with a company that invests in environmental sustainability. Data also shows that customers are responding with their purchases, with over 88% of consumers continuing business with companies that invest in the environment.

Value-driven leadership is what sets an organization apart in today’s economy. We’re here to make sure your impact is felt by your stakeholders — now, and for generations to come.

About the Author: Hannah Inman is a dynamic leader in the conservation space who excels in cross-sector collaboration and transformational placemaking facilitation. She currently leads the Great Outdoors Foundation as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer. With more than a decade of experience in advocacy and philanthropy, Inman has shepherded major Central Iowa initiatives, including Iowa by Trail — a comprehensive trail app — the Jester Park Nature Center, Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bonds, and the $30 million private capital campaign for ICON Water Trails. She has been recognized for her contributions, both personally and professionally, with esteemed awards, including the Business Record’s Emerging Woman of Influence and Forty Under 40. Inman received her B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Iowa and her Executive MBA from Iowa State University. She is an avid biker and resides in Waukee with her husband and two children.

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