The Nature Conservancy is a charitable organization very near and dear to my heart. They seem to have a conception of environmentalism that, even if it does not always mirror my own, at least allows for some thoughtful give and take when it comes to green spaces and their relationship to the human race. They have also been a regular and stable part of the environmental discussion through the Bush years as the EPA and other organizations were asleep at the wheel.
The Nature Conservancy raised more money than all but two-dozen charities in 2007, which makes the news that they intend to lay of 10% of their overall staff even more alarming. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which has been tracking the effects of the economic downturn on Non-profit jobs, reports that the Nature Conservancy has had huge expected revenue streams dry up.
“At least $32-million donors had expected to give through charitable remainder trusts, gift annuities, and other planned gifts are now on hold because of the economy, according to Angela Sosdian, the Nature Conservancy’s director of philanthropy for gift planning. That is equivalent to the amount such gifts typically produce in an entire year.”
If the Nature Conservancy is losing that much ground, it is difficult to see any port for non-profits in this storm, but it’s also going to be interesting to see who will be able to step up and carry the role of advocate for the environment. Traditionally, it’s been private organizations that have carried the weight that the government would not, and if the large and established defenders of the faith are feeling the pinch things could be grim for advocates of the environmental movement.
However, it’s important to remember that 10% lay off does not mean the end of the mission. After all, the chronicle of philanthropy is reporting that the Nature Conservancy is still completing a $1.6 billion expansion project that was started before the bad times.