Trust for Public Land

By Christopher Canellos, Gregory Scott
2003 | Case No. SI15
In April 1999, Will Rogers and Bob McIntyre, the president and chief financial officer of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit organization that acquired private land for transfer to public use, met to discuss the latest internal auditors’ report. They wanted to decide how to best analyze the findings in order to explain to TPL’s board why the results may not appear quite as good as they actually were. Total net assets had grown from $93 million to $147 million, a 58 percent increase from 1998 to 1999. However, for the second year running, TPL had shown an annual deficit in its cash flow from operating activities of roughly $11 million. As TPL continued to build its activities to protect more land, Rogers and McIntyre now had to ask themselves whether there might be pressure to put a temporary no-growth policy in place regarding land acquisitions. But if they did this, would they fail to protect certain key pieces of property and possibly alienate donors, who had been impressed by TPL’s aggressive program of land acquisitions? And was it really necessary? Alternatively, could TPL reinvigorate existing revenue streams and quickly bring the cash flow from operating activities into balance as in previous years, or did it really matter? Given these questions, Rogers and McIntyre were eager to present a viable strategy to TPL’s board to show that financial management of the organization was firmly headed in the right direction in spite of the appearance of the latest batch of results.
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