Water Foundation

Custom solutions pointed toward success



Salton Sea, California


The Salton Sea is one of California’s most intractable and significant environmental disasters. Toxic airborne particles from the shrinking sea are making residents sick while wildlife are dying. For local and major national nonprofits, keeping the State on track to fulfill its decades-long promises to remediate the damage requires consistent and diligent oversight, persuasion, appeal, and determination.


The Salton Sea is home to more than 650,000 Californians and over 400 species of birds, fish, and other unique wildlife. In addition to the 12,000 area children with asthma, toxic dry playa also kills fish, birds, and other wildlife.

A remediation effort is progressing, a credit to the advocates who keep a watchful eye on the State’s actions while applying continuous pressure to meet their goals and timeline.

Advocacy funding is a challenge unless the constituencies most affected are well-resourced, extremely motivated, and highly engaged. California has many success stories. However, after testing the receptiveness among philanthropists and business leaders in the adjacent upscale desert communities, a lack of enthusiasm and receptivity ensued resulting from years of unrealized promises by the State. Asking partner organizations to participate in fundraising for the Partnership in addition to their own organizations proved to be an additional challenge.

"Kathy, you were so clear about the issues. Your report continues to be what the funding community in the [Coachella] Valley refers to."

K2 Role &

The Water Foundation, engaged K2 to identify individual funding sources for the Salton Sea Partnership – a group of environmental and public health nonprofit organizations – including the Sierra Club, Audubon California, and Pacific Institute – working together to transform the Sea into a healthy and livable place for its residents while keeping the State on task to fulfill its master plan for remediating the Salton Sea.

If the desired strategy won’t achieve the goal, we customize a way around it toward success.

"You knocked it out of the park with the retreat."

After a concerted effort to hear from area business and philanthropic leaders, we prepared our recommendations for accomplishing the Partnership’s fundraising goals – a different plan than envisioned. Foremost, we recommended that Partner organizations come together for a two-day planning retreat to discuss and agree on:

  • A succinct vision and ROI differentiate the Partnership from the many organizations that attempted advocacy efforts before them. How is the Partnership uniquely qualified to ensure the State fulfills its 10-year plan?
  • Rules of Engagement for active participation in fundraising.
  • Developing a robust and compelling communications initiative to legitimize the Partnership locally and among funding institutions.

As a result of the retreat, the Partnership has realized more victories over the last year, by remaining visible and operating as a unified voice. In addition to an infusion of $250M from the federal infrastructure bill, and Senator Padilla is introducing a bill to create the Salton Sea Conservancy within the Natural Resources Agency. Stay tuned.

Ready to get started on reaching your potential? Contact us to get started.