President’s Message: A High Bar for Philanthropy
By David R. MacDonald
Summer 2016 Friends of Acadia Journal
When private citizens founded Acadia National Park through donations of land one hundred years ago, they established an entirely new model of how individuals and families could create a national park. They also set a very high bar for philanthropy at Acadia— and their generous precedent continues to inspire many of us today.
Now, Friends of Acadia is doing its very best to continue this tradition of community initiative and forward-looking contributions through our Second Century Campaign—the most ambitious funding drive in our organization’s history. In announcing this campaign at our Annual Meeting in Bar Harbor earlier this month, FOA has committed to raising $25 million to help prepare Acadia for its second century and the daunting challenges that the park will face in the decades to come.
We invite each and every one of you to join in this historic effort, for it will take a collective investment of gifts large and small to ensure that the very qualities that inspired Acadia’s founding will be conserved for generations to come.
Today’s FOA supporters have a lot in common with those working to establish the park at the start of the last century: we are trail-builders, artists, naturalists, hikers, sailors, students, businesspeople, visitors, legislators, educators, volunteers, and philanthropists. We have both deep roots in the local communities and a reputation and reach that extends throughout the world. Together, we are a formidable constituency with deep love for this place, and this allows us to think big when it comes to Acadia’s future.
Many of the issues we are grappling with as Acadia turns one hundred also have parallels to the work of the park’s founders: balancing competing interests of different users—those on foot, bikes, cars, buses, horses—while providing a high-quality experience for all; attracting adequate funding to steward this national treasure given the ever-changing federal fiscal climate in Washington.
But much has changed in our society and our environment, and even visionaries like Dorr, Eliot, and Rockefeller could not have foreseen how a park like Acadia would be affected by a warming climate, a growing population, and the role of technology in our lives. With more than 80 million Americans now living within a day’s drive of Acadia, the stakes are high for one of our nation’s smallest, yet most highly visited national parks.
As I have spoken with many park staff, visitors, partners, neighboring landowners, and FOA members in recent months, it has become clear that many of us share a belief that the 2016 Acadia Centennial represents a historic opportunity to tackle the key issues at our park: protecting our flora and fauna, woods and watersheds in the face of rapid environmental change; developing new approaches to transportation so that all visitors can experience the best of Acadia, given the park’s growing popularity; engaging more youth in Acadia to build a new generation of citizen stewards; and extending our commitment to the historic trails and carriage roads that are enjoyed by so many.
In each of these areas, funds raised by FOA through the Second Century Campaign will make possible both immediate startup projects, as well as the long-term sustainability of endowment funds that will ensure impact well into the future. Please see the Superintendent’s View and the feature article within this Journal to learn more about the goals for this campaign and how it is already making a difference here at Acadia.
How does the Second Century Campaign relate to the Acadia Centennial celebration that has been underway since January through events, products, and partnerships throughout the community? It is one more element of this collective celebration of what Acadia means to us all, and it is FOA’s way of contributing significantly to the park’s long-term future.
Friends of Acadia is deeply honored to be the organization through which so many of you choose to give back to this park. Whether it is a membership donation, a purchase at our Benefit Auction, a gift in memory of a loved one, or the contribution of your valuable time and expertise as a volunteer, these generous acts allow us to be an effective and impactful partner to the Park Service.
With this honor, however, comes a responsibility for FOA to think beyond the immediate demands of the daily or weekly work, or even the annual fundraising calendar. The Second Century Campaign takes this longer view, and I am grateful for the many supporters who have already responded enthusiastically to this initiative. We welcome your questions, feedback and involvement once you have had a chance to learn more through this publication, our website, and conversations this summer. ❈