Extensive clearing of native vegetation on rural properties throughout Australia over the last century has generated significant damage to biodiversity. Conservation tenders have been broadly used to reduce the detrimental impact of such widespread clearance. To date, Australian conservation tender research has largely been limited to program evaluations and landholder surveys. This analysis differs by comparing and contrasting the views of non-landholders involved with these programs with those of participant landholders. The non-landholder group consists of individuals with involvement in conservation tenders across Australia. By contrast, the landholder group consists of individuals with participation experience in a series of Victorian tender initiatives. Each group is surveyed to investigate the drivers of cost-effectiveness within tender programs and landholder participation. This analysis explores these two perspectives, revealing important convergences and divergences in opinion. Both practitioners and landholders indicate that programs supported by close agency-landholder relationships and offering flexibility to landholders are most likely to succeed, particularly where landholders perceive the tender instrument to be fair. Whilst practitioners emphasise the role of transaction costs issues and program characteristics in achieving cost-effective biodiversity outcomes, landholders indicate that these factors are less important to participation rates. This research is important to guide future implementation of tender programs both in Australia and internationally. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.