Taking Wing with Virginia Audubon

It’s hard being the middle child. That’s one lesson we’ve learned over the years from work with the state affiliates of national nonprofits with local chapters. The state affiliates are at risk of Middle Child Syndrome, getting tangled in the potentially blurry lines of role clarity, member management, fundraising and program delivery.

When we’re able to walk into a room and have a different sort of conversation, that’s a good thing.

Something along those lines happened last weekend when we spent the better part of a gorgeous Saturday indoors at Maymont with the Virginia Audubon Council. Rather than getting entangled in conversations about memberships and dues and chapter relationships, we talked about something Virginia has that is unique, important and powerful – Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

There are about 3.5 million acres of IBAs in Virginia – 20 large, forested swaths that are a refuge and home to hundreds of migratory bird species. IBAs have historically been at the heart of the Virginia Council’s work. And during our retreat, the Council realized that IBAs were a “core product” – something no one else had, and something that could help the Council, and the six state chapters, thread together funding, public awareness and mission delivery in a powerful way.

We started building the outlines of a plan on Saturday. The local chapters will add color to the framework in the coming weeks. Watching a small board leave a planning session with enthusiasm for an emerging plan is no small thing. It’s what makes a working weekend worthwhile.