There are moments throughout our lives that we'll never forget—those pivotal milestones that light the way from where we've been to where we're going. Ducks Unlimited's 75th anniversary has been one of those unforgettable milestones. Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) brought us through the first half of our anniversary year with resounding success, as we met and exceeded goals across the board for the second consecutive year.
After performing phenomenally in FY11, DU's grassroots event system marked another historic year for the ducks in FY12. The 55 special diamond anniversary events held from February to June raised a total of more than $9.2 million in gifts and pledges for Ducks Unlimited, many setting the bar much higher than their $75,000 goal. And across the country, DU's events saw higher turnout and stronger support than ever. All told, our volunteers held nearly 4,000 events during FY12, raising $42.8 million in net revenue, including major gifts acquired through events. It's truly an exciting time to be a DU volunteer!
DU's long-term financial strength also saw a significant boost during our 75th National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, as DU philanthropic leaders and Wetlands America Trust Trustees Jim Kennedy and John Childs, along with an anonymous fellow trustee, together committed a generous $75 million estate gift to Ducks Unlimited. DU's development team plans to use these extraordinary gifts to challenge others to leave their conservation legacy. In the coming years, our goal is to secure an additional $75 million in estate gifts to ensure another 75 years of conservation success.
FY12 was also an exceptional year for waterfowl habitat delivery. Our conservation team exceeded acreage goals by more than 80,000 acres, including significant critical nesting habitat in DU's Great Plains Region, where we surpassed our conservation goal by more than 150 percent. We also achieved great gains in the key wintering habitats of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and Gulf Coast, exceeding Southern Region goals by 53 percent. Overall, DU conserved more than 185,900 acres in FY12, bringing our continental total to nearly 12.9 million.
It's important to note that public policy is playing a growing role in DU's conservation success. Without favorable outcomes made possible only through our engagement, the funding and partner support necessary for high-priority policy work would be greatly reduced. DU's ability to conserve landscapes critical to the future of waterfowl would be significantly diminished without policy priorities such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Farm Bill, and tax incentives associated with conservation easements. As we move into FY13, public policy will continue to be at the forefront of DU's conservation efforts.
Looking to the future, one phrase you'll hear often is Conservation for Generations. It is the title of DU's national business plan, but it is also at the heart of our mission. DU has developed strategic goals with the coming generations in mind—a future for wetlands and waterfowl, our organization, and our generous family of volunteers and supporters. We will continue to put sound science first when making conservation decisions. We will grow support through our grassroots network and philanthropic leaders. And we will address the long-term sustainability of Ducks Unlimited as a whole.
While there are thousands of moving parts that make up our great organization, the heart of these accomplishments is ultimately you—Ducks Unlimited's loyal supporters. We are committed to using your gifts efficiently for DU's mission and are pleased to report that audited results show 83 percent of your gifts in FY12 were dedicated to conservation. We thank you for your support of DU's mission and for the camaraderie and friendship that carries from the duck blind to every DU event across America. You have made our 75th anniversary a milestone to remember. Let's keep that energy going as we kick off the next 75 years of Ducks Unlimited.
John W. Newman, President
Dale Hall, Chief Executive Officer