Thanksgiving: A Note of Gratitude to NWF Supporters
About 75 cents out of every dollar spent by nonprofit organizations comes from individual donors. Consequently, those people who sit down at home and write checks to NWF, or who give online, or who join the NWF Wildlife Leaders Club by making monthly credit card donations are not just key components of the Federation’s conservation work, they are the basis of all that NWF accomplishes and hopes to accomplish.
For the second consecutive year, as Thanksgiving Day draws near, NWF has given staff the opportunity to thank individual donors individually as we phone hundreds of contributors of all kinds and sizes. We reach only a small proportion of those who support NWF, but we try to call as many as time and other constraints allow, just to say thank you.
As a senior editor of National Wildlife magazine, I phoned two dozen donors myself, with great pleasure. I have worked in conservation at the national level for more than 30 years, and throughout that time the importance of donors to my career and to protecting wildlife has been ever on my mind. During my calls, I found myself talking mostly to answering machines, but that didn’t diminish the pleasure of saying thank you to these folks whose kindness plays such an important role in wildlife conservation. My favorite answering machine message this year was by Betsy in Philadelphia, who said she couldn’t answer the phone because she was at the zoo.I talked with other staff who also made calls. Tim Brady, the NWF philanthropy officer for the Northeast Region, found that his calls often turned into role reversals as donors, he said, “Thanked us for the work NWF does and for the opportunity to contribute toward the achievement of wildlife-conservation goals.” Paul from Bellefort, Pennsylvania, told Brady that “he loves the great outdoors and knows that’s what NWF protects, which is why he’ll keep supporting us every year.” One donor indicated that she might be getting a little too close to wildlife, or rather that wildlife is getting too close to her: Lois in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, said she is trying to figure out how to keep black bears out of her cabin in Sullivan County, allegedly home to more bears than people.
Elizabeth Tamburello, an NWF marketing coordinator, said she too found that people she talked to also thanked NWF. One donor, along with giving Tamburello a back-at-you thanks, told her, “I literally just put my check in the mail to you guys.” Several donors Tamburello talked to said they hoped NWF would continue to fight against climate change (we will), saying “it was a big concern of theirs.”
Donor Dollars in Action
In addition to its actions against global warming—seeking better regulation of greenhouse gases and helping individuals take their own measures to reduce carbon footprints—NWF is engaged in a wide range of conservation activities, thanks to donor dollars:
- NWF is working to protect habitat and environmental conditions in the Great Lakes region. Most recently, NWF has worked for laws designed to keep Asian carp—an invasive species that could cause devastating ecological damage—from expanding into the Great Lakes and has sought to close gaps, inconsistencies and loopholes in U.S. state and Canadian provincial laws that leave the Great Lakes vulnerable to a new wave of mining activity;
- NWF is working for stronger protections against mercury pollution, helping to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 2011 to finalize the first-ever national limits on mercury from U.S. coal-fired power plants, which will cut emissions by 90 percent and significantly reduce exposure that can harm wildlife and impair brain development in children.
- After 15 years of partnership with the Intertribal Bison Cooperative, NWF last March helped secure 61 genetically pure Yellowstone National Park bison for release on the Fort Peck Reservation, the northeastern Montana home of Sioux and Assiniboine tribes. Since the release on March 19, more than 20 bison calves have been born, a start to restoring a lost part of the tribes’ heritage.
- NWF and its partners in 2009 won a series of court cases requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure protections of wildlife and habitat in three local flood zones proposed for development, benefitting endangered Key deer in Florida, dwindling orcas and Chinook salmon in Washington state’s Puget Sound and more than 314 square miles of Mississippi wetland and bottomland forest between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, which would have been drained by the proposed Yazoo Pump.
- Thanks to dedicated work by dozens of NWF employees on the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign, half of the $2.4 billion that BP will pay to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of its criminal settlement for the Gulf oil spill will be used for Mississippi River delta and barrier-island restoration in coastal Louisiana.
Late in 2010, NWF and the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) successfully concluded a federal case challenging FEMA’s practice of issuing flood insurance for storm-surge areas along the Florida coast, which includes 90 percent of U.S. sea turtle nesting habitat.
- Through its Certified Wildlife Habitat® program, NWF has guided more than 100,000 citizens through the process of turning their backyards and other property into habitat suitable for local wildlife.
A New Generation of ConservationistsMany NWF programs and activities are designed to connect children with nature, with a goal of putting 10 million more children in touch with nature within the next three years. Activities include:
- The annual Great American Backyard Campout, now approaching its ninth year, which gets families out of the house and into tents in backyards and other outdoor sites. More than 160,000 campers participated in 2011.
- Eco-Schools, an internationally acclaimed program started in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education, which provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and fosters environmental stewardship among youth. NWF has served since 2008 as Eco-School host for U.S. K-12 schools. The program now has more than 700 participating schools with 300,000 students.
- The Certified Schoolyard Habitats, a program that helps teachers and students to develop wildlife havens on school grounds and that also creates outdoor classrooms. With more than 4,000 certified schools, including more than a dozen tribal schools, Schoolyard Habitats is the largest U.S. school-garden program.
Nothing NWF has or will accomplish could be done without donors. For those we couldn’t phone this year, everyone at NWF extends to you too a hearty “Thank you” for your support.
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Photographs for this blog were donated by entrants of the annual National Wildlife Photo Contest, to whom goes a special thanks.