MCA Governance Group

The Governance working group of the Metrowest Conservation Alliance (MCA) was formed to identify the governance and administration issues that can be challenging for Volunteer Land Trusts (VLTs) to manage. The working group is not currently active.

Insurance emerged as the first topic the group wanted to tackle, but other topics of interest included donation processing, investment management, record keeping, and board education and general organizational training. Proper management of most of these tasks and processes is required for accreditation under the Land Trust Alliance’s accreditation program. But regardless of whether a VLT seeks accreditation, appropriate management of administration and financial processes is essential for proper non-profit governance.

Insurance Project

For the insurance project, the working group surveyed 16 land trusts in the MCA to collect data about types and costs of insurance coverage with the objective of determining whether better options may exist. Ten land trusts responded and eight completed the survey. The other two who responded (Hudson and Sherborn) didn't have insurance. The survey results showed:

  • Every land trust surveyed had general liability coverage.
  • There was no clear connection between the cost of general liability coverage and the amount of properties and number of acres held by a land trust.
  • Most of the land trusts had at least one other coverage in addition to general liability, although the types of coverage varied widely.
  • Half of the land trusts had coverage for Directors and Officers. Only one had Conservation Restriction defense coverage.

Other questions that still need to be pursued:

  • The survey didn't ask for the dollar value of the general liability coverage for each land trust. This may have a larger effect on the insurance cost than the number of properties and acres. This may be true for both the liability and the Directors and Officers coverages.
  • The follow-up to this is, How much coverage does a relatively small, all volunteer land trust need?
  • Cost aside, what coverage(s) does a small land trust actually need? How important is the Directors and Officers coverage? How important is CR defense coverage?