If you're thinking about accreditation, below is a general overview of what is involved.
The land trusts that have achieved accreditation say the process is challenging, but a smart investment. They say that they are stronger and more efficient, have improved the confidence of landowners and funders, gained recognition from their communities, and ensured the long-term success of their organizations.
"Accreditation has proven to be an invaluable experience for the Palmer Land Trust," said Josh Tenneson, programs director at Palmer Land Trust in Colorado. "During the last three years, the organization has analyzed and filled policy and due diligence gaps in preparation for the final accreditation process – strengthening throughout the endeavor. The accreditation seal provides our partners, landowners, and the general community the utmost confidence in the work that the Palmer Land Trust performs."
Phase I: Conduct an Assessment
A first step in implementing Land Trust Standards and Practices and eventually applying for accreditation is conducting the required assessment against the full set of standards. It helps to be frank and honest in the assessment. Implementing an action plan that charts a course to the improvements identified by the assessment is essential. Many land trusts are using the Pathways to Accreditation website to do the assessment online.
Phase II: Test Yourself with the Checklists
When the improvements identified in the assessment are complete and/or your land trust thinks it can demonstrate compliance with the accreditation indicator practices, test this assumption with a careful review of the Master Attachment Checklist and Project Documentation Checklist, available here. Read each indicator practice and the lists of required documentation you will be asked to submit. Identify if each document exists, where it is, and if it is of sufficient detail to demonstrate compliance. Most groups who go through this the first time find gaps. The next step is to develop and implement a plan to fill those gaps.
Phase III: Put Your Application Team Together and Register to Apply!
When an organization is confident that it can demonstrate that it is meeting the practices, it should begin the process by registering to apply. Next you can put together the accreditation team and start pulling all the materials together!
If you are ready to apply, the Applicant Handbook is a must-read. It provides detailed information on the program requirements and application process. If your organization needs information on how to document implementation of the indicator practices, the Requirements Manual is essential. For assistance with assessments or advice on how to implement the indicator practices, the Land Trust Alliance's online tool, The Learning Center, is a good place to start.
The Commission also hosts free webinars throughout the year on the accreditation process and makes those presentations available for download on our website.