As a professional fundraiser who used to work at Defenders, I feel confident in recommending Defenders as an organization that makes very good use of its funds toward the mission of wildlife conservation. These rating sites are hugely helpful in making decisions about how charities use their funds, but the ratings are sometimes tricky. Defenders headquarters is in DC and does top-notch advocacy work -- for example, emailing members to inform them of policies that are harmful to wildlife and providing them easy access to information to contact their government representatives. Because these advocacy pieces (also known as Action Alerts), usually contain a link encouraging supporters to make a gift, they are often calculated as fundraising expenses by ratings websites. (Of course, any charity needs funds and would be foolish not to use an email or other communication to provide recipients the opportunity to give. But the larger point of these advocacy pieces is to inform Defenders' many supporters who care deeply about what the U.S. is allowing to happen to wildlife -- and to make it easy to contact their representatives and others to stand up for critters. Politicians listen to their constituents, and Defenders wants to give them the opportunity to be heard. So, please, rest assured from someone who has been at Defenders -- this is a great charity, doing very important work for species, full of committed staff dedicated to making a difference for wildlife. And their funds are spent wisely toward this goal. If you want to make a difference for species in the U.S., funding Defenders is a good investment. Their impact far outweighs their size or budget. This is why I, a former employee who has worked at organizations across conservation, have personally become a Defenders donor!
Review from CharityNavigator
Hi, Mr. Baker,
First of all, thank you for your ongoing support of America’s wildlife and habitats and for raising your important concerns. Defenders is proud of how carefully we spend our members’ contributions. In fact, our most recent audited financial statement shows that last year we spent 91% of our expenses on programs and support services and only 9% on fundraising (for more information, please see our annual report at http://www.defenders.org/annual-report-and-990s).
While, as an advocacy group, we’ll always have a mix of online and offline supporters, we are working to change our ratio of paper mail to e-mail. I am happy to report that we have made great progress over the last two years in increasing our pool of online supporters by 31%.
Finally, everyone at Defenders was devastated to hear the news about the Yellowstone wolf fondly known as 06, and we have had all hands on deck addressing this horrific situation. In addition to our ongoing delisting lawsuit and proactive work with ranchers, our wolf experts, communications team, and legal team are collaborating with partners to help secure buffers and develop coexistence projects around Yellowstone National Park. We have also raised this issue with the Department of the Interior officials in DC, discussed the killing of wolves from Yellowstone during a lengthy interview on CNN Headline News, sent out a call for action to our more than one million members and supporters to put pressure on the Obama administration and the states to protect wolves around the park, and generated more press on this issue so the public can express their outrage. In fact, we quickly generated nearly 300 thank yous to the Montana Fish and Game Commission for setting up the buffers.
Once again, thank you for your support; we couldn’t protect wildlife and wild places without you!
Executive Vice President
Defenders of Wildlife