My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Seacology, Berkeley, CA, USA
My wife and I have been scuba divers for more than twenty years. During that time we have been disheartened to see the marked decline that has occurred in island environments around the world. In searching for ways that we could help prevent that decline, we ran across Seacology. As we investigated the organization, studying its Form 990 and checking donors' comments on various web sites, we became very interested in the organization, so decided to start out with a moderate donation.
The thing that initially interested us most about Seacology is their win-win approach in which they provide funding for some resource, such as a community center or a water filtration plant needed by the local island people, in return for a pledge by those people to protect some endangered part of their island environment. Rather than just giving money away or going in and telling the people to protect the environmnet, Seacology gets buy-in from those people through this quid pro quo approach.
After becoming donors, several things immediately impressed us about Seacology. For one, they did not constantly hound us seeking additional donations as other organizations have done. Second, they did not waste our contribution on slick publications that have little real content, or on cheap trinkets such as address labels or stuffed animals that do nothing to protect island environments. Instead, Seacology sends out a nice, but not overly slick, annual report that provides details about where the organization has focused its efforts and distributed its resources during the preceding year.
After giving increasing amounts to Seacology each year, my wife and I finally decided this past year to join Seacology on one of their trips. These trips usually involve some scuba diving since many of the donors, as well as the organization's director, are avid scuba divers like us, and a visit to at least one of Seacology's project sites. Our trip was to the Philippines where we visited several project sites.
For us, this trip really confirmed our belief in Seacology's activities and cemented our commitment to the organization. We got a chance to meet and spend considerable time with other donors as well as the organization's Director, Duane Silverstein, and the Field Representative for the Philippines, Ferdie Marcelo, both outstanding highly-committed individuals. However, the real highlight for us was a chance to visit project sites and see first-hand how our contributions were being put to good use. The thing that was especially rewarding for us was to actually sense the gratitude the island people have to Seacology for providing the resources they needed, and the people's commitment toward fulfilling their part of the bargain by protecting their island's natural resources.
In the future we intend to increase our support of Seacology. We would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in protecting and sustaining the world's natural environment to do the same.