AS 2013 COMES TO A CLOSE, I want to thank each of you for your support of the Urban Land Institute. Your involvement and investment has helped ULI continue to grow as a world-class organization, and it is a privilege for me and all the staff to serve you.
This year has been marked by a series of wins for the Institute: highly successful convenings, including the ULI Europe Annual Conference, the ULI Asia Pacific Real Estate Summit, and our annual Spring and Fall meetings, each of which drew a more global audience in terms of both attendees and sponsors; the launch of our Building Healthy Places Initiative, which is exploring the connection between land use and healthful living environments; an Advisory Services panel making expert recommendations on community resilience based on lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy; and new collaborative efforts with partners such as the Kresge Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Colorado Health Foundation. In addition, ULI’s membership moved back above the 30,000 mark for the first time since 2008, with increases posted in November for the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe—a positive movement we believe will continue in the months ahead.
All of these achievements reflect an ongoing expansion of ULI’s reach and influence on a worldwide basis, an accomplishment made possible by your belief in ULI’s ability to make a meaningful, lasting impact. ULI is an outcome-oriented organization, and increasingly impact is our watchword. Our Chairman Lynn Thurber has made enhancing—and documenting—ULI’s impact one of her key priorities. This means building an organization that explicitly links its mission to impact on the ground. There are three significant movements underway at ULI that underpin this approach: 1) the ascendance of the District Councils and their important role in generating content for ULI; 2) our renewed emphasis on strategic investment in technology to connect and integrate our member networks; and 3) our new approach to managing fundraising through the ULI Foundation.
First, District Councils. Increasingly, ULI’s mission is delivered through our District Councils. Our investment in high-quality staff, leadership development, and locally generated content has harnessed a powerful engine for engagement and impact on development and land use issues.
We now have 51 District Councils in the Americas, 14 in Europe (where they are called National Councils), and seven in Asia. Expansion will continue, guided by a clear decision-making framework developed by the ULI Board’s Global Strategy Committee. District Councils are increasingly taking a more regional approach, working together to address issues of common concern. Often, these regional meetings are the venue for adapting the Product Council model to a more local market.
Second, technology and member communications. Fortunately, the economic recovery will allow us to invest in the talent and systems required to support a broad, web-based member network. We have in place a highly skilled team, including a new chief technology officer. Our commitment to member service is evidenced by the launch of our new e-commerce system, the Urban Land magazine mobile app, and ULI’s online video library. I encourage you to use uli.org and the other communications platforms to enhance your member experience. We are exploring new ways to share ULI’s considerable base of knowledge across our various member networks, and are planning some exciting new products and services that will enrich your ULI experience.
Third, fundraising. ULI’s business model is changing. To maintain a strong program for our current members, and to expand to new areas where our mission is relevant and our potential impact is strong, we are continuing to diversify our revenue structure. The diversification of ULI’s revenue through increased Foundation support should relieve upward pressure on our dues and registration fees, and that can help make ULI more accessible to a wider audience. However, this diversification requires a robust philanthropic funding mechanism.
We’ve been working over the past six months to strike a better balance between commercial funding streams and philanthropic fundraising so that we can better respond to potential donors and supporters. In addition to my role as ULI’s chief executive, I have assumed the responsibility of Foundation president; also, our fundraising team has been expanded to better leverage all our fundraising vehicles and develop stronger relationships with outside foundations, working with both the ULI and ULI Foundation boards to ensure the right strategic guidance and accountability.
As we look to next year, there is a palpable sense of progress around the Institute. Thanks to each of you, ULI is trusted and respected around the world. During this holiday season, please consider making a donation to the ULI Foundation as part of your charitable giving plans. ULI staff members around the globe join you in supporting our organization; this year, they made a record number of donations to the Annual Fund, in addition to supporting local charities. As ULI’s chief executive, I take great pride in the generosity of our members and staff as we work to build better communities for generations to come. Your support can help turn big ideas and bold visions into reality. Thank you for your membership and service to ULI.
Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous new year.
Patrick L. Phillips
Chief Executive Officer
Urban Land Institute