February 22, 2024

North Florida Land Trust is a nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the quality of life by protecting North Florida’s irreplaceable natural environment. This year, NFLT is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Since 1999, the organization has preserved more than 36,000 acres and helped protect critical habitats for wildlife and plants.  

On Sunday, March 3, NFLT will host its annual meeting and 25th-anniversary celebration at TPC Sawgrass. It is a chance for the organization to share its accomplishments and goals for the future. The event also serves as a major fundraiser for the nonprofit. NFLT could only accomplish what it does with donors who generously give to save natural spaces.

Lee Anderson Louy is the driving force behind NFLT’s fundraising efforts. Lee has served as the organization’s director of philanthropic services since 2021. Since joining NFLT, Lee has secured over $6 million to help promote protecting and preserving North Florida. Some of her accomplishments include raising over $1.3 million to purchase and save the historical Little Nana Dune in American Beach and helping to protect properties such as Ferngully Preserve Addition in Mandarin and River Branch Preserve Islands, the islands in marshlands in the Intracoastal Waterway just north of J. Turner Butler Boulevard.

As director of philanthropic services, Lee’s duties and responsibilities are vast. She oversees a team that handles all fundraising for the organization, including the marketing and management of the annual membership program, as well as all communications for the organization, which includes newsletters, brochures, NFLT products, email communications, photography, stewardship, solicitation mailers, and website updates. Lee develops campaigns with local and national reach to showcase NFLT’s mission and values. She cultivates and stewards major and prospective donors and maintains a computerized donor management system. She is also responsible for implementing fundraising events, including the annual meeting early next month.

We asked Lee some questions to give you a closer look at her and what she does to help save Florida’s natural spaces.

Lee, tell us about yourself:

I am a Jacksonville native and deeply admire the Northeast Florida region. I graduated from The Bolles School and earned my bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure services administration from Florida State University. I earned my Master of Public Administration and certificate in nonprofit management at the University of North Florida, as well as my Doctor of Education. I was awarded the UNF Thomas A. Mulkeen Dissertation Award for my dissertation topic: The Role Academic Deans Play in Public Higher Education Fundraising.

I am passionate about helping others, whether preserving Florida’s natural heritage, promoting higher education for all students, or working with senior citizens. I have served as the director for the City of Jacksonville’s Bennie Furlong Senior Center and worked for the University of North Florida in various roles. I was the assistant director of development for UNF’s Brooks College of Health, the director of development for Academic Affairs, and the director of development for the College of Education and Human Services. Through my work with NFLT and my previous job at UNF, I have secured over $20 million in funding to support work in North Florida. I serve on dissertation committees for UNF’s Doctor of Education program and am an Association of Fundraisers First Coast Chapter (AFP) member. I thoroughly enjoy helping junior fundraisers sharpen their skills in the AFP mentoring program.

Tell us a little about what your typical day or week looks like.

No one day is alike in the development world, which is one reason I enjoy my work. A regular work week currently looks like this: a site visit to Smith Lake Preserve introducing members and donors to one of our special preserves, planning for our Annual Meeting, determining the content for our Annual Report, working with the development committee from our Board of Directors, meeting internally with staff to plan a property visit with foundation trustees coming to Florida later this month, securing sponsors for the Annual Meeting, writing grant proposals to previous funders, calling current donors to check -in and give them an update on upcoming events and activities that they might be interested in, reaching out to prospective donors to schedule a first meeting to discuss NFLT, and much more. In the development world, we wear multiple hats to promote the organization and secure private funds to operate, and it is always an exciting day at NFLT.

You spend much time talking about NFLT to potential donors; what do you tell people about the organization?

The natural spaces that have not been developed make Jacksonville and North Florida so special. NFLT diligently works to protect and preserve the remaining open spaces and landscapes to ensure we have the natural resources we need and love.

How do you identify donors and potential donors?

This process is multi-layered and is ever-evolving and expanding. We utilize a donor database that includes approximately 8,600 constituents made up of current donors, previous donors, and prospective donors. We look to corporations and foundations and rely on our board of directors and their circle of influence. Our development department works closely with the acquisitions team as they work with landowners to determine the best ways to partner to preserve these important natural lands.

What types of donors are you looking for?

We need support at all levels to make our organization run successfully, so we developed our membership program last year. This program allows an individual to join us in our mission at various levels that may be more affordable. Membership starts at the $45 Friend Level and rises to the $1,000 and over Champion Level. These unrestricted donations can help us act quickly when preservation opportunities arise and help support our day-to-day operations. This program also allows our members to share their thoughts on conservation and contribute to NFLT’s successes and plans for the future.

How can someone become a member?

It is easy; go to our website and click on the membership button. You can learn all about the program and join today. To celebrate our 25th anniversary, anyone who donates at least $45 to support our general fund will become an NFLT member and enjoy all the benefits membership offers. You could get behind-the-scenes tours of our properties, discounted tickets to our annual meeting, and discounted NFLT merchandise. Membership support helps us protect more land, preserve wildlife habitats, and save more saltwater marshes.

What is the money you raised used for?

Private funds allow NFLT to preserve the most ecologically, agriculturally, and historically significant lands in North Florida. Private funds help support all facets of NFLT, from our daily operations, which include staff support, to due diligence costs before we can close on a property, to purchasing land, to managing the land, which could include restoration of the property, maintenance of trails, and equipment needed, like a new fire truck to administer prescribed fires, fencing, and much more. These costs can vary from year to year, and funding priorities can change quickly. The time to protect North Florida’s irreplaceable natural environment is now, or the opportunity will be lost forever.

Do you always have a project or acquisition in mind when fundraising?

We are always seeking private support. For instance, in January, here are a few priorities we solicited private support for:

  • Renovation of the 100X100 pole bar structure that houses all our stewardship equipment due to weather and wind damage.
  • Maintenace of the roads into Smith Lake Preserve.
  • The creation of a greenhouse at Smith Lake Preserve to grow in-house plants for our preserves.
  • We need capacity support to grow our acquisitions team to purchase more properties to preserve.
  • Annual Meeting sponsorships.
  • Two critical properties within the Ocala to Osceola Wildlife Corridor to purchase conservation easements valued over $1 Million each.

What is your favorite thing about this job?

One of my favorite things about this job is connecting people and organizations with NFLT to make a difference in our community and leave a legacy for North Florida. My love for North Florida runs deep, and I want to ensure these natural spaces are here for my children and future generations.