DU 2014 Annual Report

An executive summary of DU's financial and conservation achievements during the past year

It takes a dedicated team to conserve, restore and manage habitat to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. That's why Ducks Unlimited volunteers band together for waterfowl each year.

Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) was successful for Team DU thanks to our volunteers - all of them proud members of our 2,610 chapters - who dedicated themselves to raising money for the ducks at more than 4,300 events in FY14. This was DU's fourth straight year of fundraising growth and our best fundraising year since 2002. Our volunteers raised $53.9 million through events across the United States, a 4.5 percent increase over last fiscal year.

Event attendance also grew for the third straight year. DU volunteers worked harder than ever to bring 509,100 attendees to our FY14 events, an increase of 12.2 percent over the previous year. The total number of volunteers grew 10.7 percent to 53,400.

In FY14, new commitments from our Major Sponsors totaled $26.6 million, new cash totaled $22.2 million and new gift planning commitments came in at $21.5 million. Do you see a trend here? DU's growth and continued success are made possible by our dedicated volunteers at all levels of the organization. The strength of our fundraising system relies on the power of the volunteer, and the fact that like-minded individuals so willingly give of their time and talents bodes well for the future.

We have been fortunate to meet one-on-one with our volunteers at events across the country. It doesn't take long to realize that these folks are the backbone of our organization and the reason Ducks Unlimited is a leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. It is truly a privilege to work alongside such dedicated, selfless and honorable people who stand up for what they believe in.

In FY14, Team DU conducted conservation work on more than 209,000 acres, bringing our cumulative total to over 13.3 million acres conserved in North America since 1937. FY14 also saw significant progress on several legislative issues that are vital to our conservation mission, thanks in large part to active, vocal DU volunteers. The 2014 Farm Bill, which was approved in February, includes proactive and common-sense conservation programs that will help deter wetland losses, provide incentives for habitat conservation and keep farmers and ranchers - our conservation partners - on their land.

The Farm Bill includes the conservation community's top priorities of re-coupling conservation compliance to crop insurance and a Sodsaver program in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. This will help protect some of the nation's most important waterfowl breeding and migration habitats. Other provisions in the Farm Bill also encourage the conservation of our remaining wetlands and grasslands, which help keep our waters clean, prevent soil erosion and provide vital habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

In FY14, DU supporters continued to back legislation to increase the price of the federal duck stamp from $15 to $25. In the 23 years since the last price increase, the value of land has tripled and the stamp's conservation impact has greatly diminished. Once again, sportsmen and women are leading the charge to fund conservation that benefits all our citizens.

In July, a target of more than $34 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) was included in a bill by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. While this funding is level with FY14 it demonstrates a renewed commitment to this vital program, which delivers on-the-ground conservation for waterfowl, other wildlife and our citizens.

Since 1990, more than 5,000 partners have completed over 2,400 NAWCA projects, contributing to the conservation of 27.5 million acres of waterfowl breeding, migration and wintering habitat. Reflecting their commitment, partners have contributed $2.7 billion in nonfederal matching funds for the nearly $1.3 billion made available through federal grants. With appropriate funding for this program, the public will benefit forever from healthy waterfowl populations, increased hunting opportunities and all the other benefits that wetlands provide.

Our work is as important now as it was 77 years ago. We should be proud of what we have accomplished, but as any of our dedicated volunteers will tell you, our job is never done.