Hi, and welcome to the Earthtrust "web" page. I hope
you have a good time here and find what you're looking for. If
you've found it through links or a 'web search, you may wonder
what you've stumbled onto. Earthtrust isn't an easy group to categorize.
After you get to know us, you may decide we belong in a whole
Earthtrust is a conservation-advocacy group, dedicated to protecting wild species, and as activist as it's possible to be: Earthtrust field campaigners are often in harm's way for the earth. On the other hand, we don't do "protests"; we do science and reality. Typically, we try to take on the "impossible" missions, and then phase out of them once our solutions become mainstream.
As you'll see, there has long been a focus on dolphins and whales, and that continues. You'll also see that it hasn't limited us. Our track record covers a lot of successful ground on behalf of many different issues, and the stuff highlighted in this web page is just a peek.
One thing about the Web, you can't tell how big anyone really is. For that reason, based on the stuff we do - and have done - you may get the idea that Earthtrust is one of those big environmental groups that fills your mailbox with donation requests; the ones which gross 50 or 100 million dollars per year. Not so; we merely get that level of results. In any given year our global activities generally cost less than 1-2% of these amounts. Moreover, I can state without fear of contradiction that you have NEVER received any junk mail from Earthtrust: we don't do any, as a matter of principle. The costs of fundraising that way are horrendous both in trees and donated dollars. (True, we could play with the books and declare these fundraising costs "educational expenses" to make the financial statements look good, but WE would know....)
So what IS Earthtrust?
As an original founder and leader of Greenpeace, I spent 10 years seeing what could be done right and wrong with a non-governmental organization wishing to help the environment. I learned to care about costs of fundraising, accountability to donors, substance over flash, science over myth. And in particular, about avoiding the pitfalls that can rob a group of credibility and effectiveness. Earthtrust, as it exists today, was the result.
A few concepts that seem obvious in retrospect: The issues must drive the programs. The organization is only important as a tool to make programs possible. The paid staff are part of the programs, and have no independent reason for being paid. The Board of Directors should be small and highly competent, while the list of advisors should be large and highly competent. Funds received for a project are a sacred trust, and must be held for their designated use. Waste, in fundraising or program, is not acceptable. Before a program is started, a workable strategy for a solution must be developed.
Above all, there must be a long-term vision. Innovation is key. Science and the best technology are the favored tools. Conventional wisdom is usually out of date.
This has led to a pretty unique organization. Although Earthtrust has fielded strong offices in key locations such as Geneva, Auckland, Taipei, Los Angeles, Kuwait, and New York based on program needs, we have avoided the pitfall of keeping them open after the local program needs have been met. Although we have bought and chartered ships and planes to accomplish specific objectives, we don't pour money into owning them between times. We don't get much into merchandising, don't print up calendars, don't even publish a slick newsletter. And while our paid staff have at times numbered many dozens, this too is dependent upon programs. This makes Earthtrust the most protean of "conservation" organizations, yet one of the most stable. The percentage of funds received which is spent directly on "program" expenses has been at least 83% for many years, despite large fluctuations in the number and level of programs from year to year.
And Earthtrust makes sophisticated use of "planned giving" vehicles when donors desire it: you're probably paying money in taxes that could be saving wild species.
What all this means is that Earthtrust is an efficient tool for anyone wishing to aid the whales, dolphins, or other species. Not only does $100 go as far here as $1000 goes elsewhere, but there is no "black hole" that your funds disappear into. It's called "earthtrust" for a reason: we absolutely honor the designations of donations, and report back to contributors.
The "down" side of these ethics and guidelines is that important projects must be "cut back" or put on hold if not funded. Program work is directly tied to funds received in a given year. (hint, hint.)
Until now, then, Earthtrust has been a bit of a well-kept secret: often in the news but never in your mailbox. This has meant, in most cases, that our supporters have been the people who have taken the time to find us, the "sophisticated donors" who know the nonprofit world and shop around to get the best "bang for the buck". So this page is something new for us; we're now "out there" on display in a cost-effective way. (Maybe you could think of us as sort of a discount broker for environmental progress...hmmm...)
There's something else that distinguishes Earthtrust: the "vision thing". It's in being unafraid to take chances, to try new approaches. Want to make a breakthrough to the mind of a dolphin? Invent an underwater computer interface based on infra-red light beams. Need to end decades of illegal whale smuggling? Develop a new field protocol for molecular tissue identification that sidesteps legal barriers. Trying to plug the national holes in "dolphin safe" tuna schemes? Create a new international certification regime based on "Flipper" and on international contract law. Daring to expose and end the world's largest kill of marine species? Put together a gutsy, stepwise plan and go do it.
Another thing about the structure: Earthtrust is about as close to being an electronic entity as a major conservation organization can be. It has been organized around e-mail and electronic data-stream-scanning since the early '80's. The physical offices adapt, the locations change, but the work and the organization go on. This presence on the 'web adds a new dimension to the continually-evolving entity that's Earthtrust.
Nice to meet you.
Don White, Founder and CEO