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Know Your Donor Recipient Before You Send the Dough

May 19, 2018

It may be shocking to many, but at times, a disproportionate amount of your contributions to various causes is consumed in lifestyles, office buildings, salaries and fund-raising activities rather than into the cause for which the funds were solicited. In particular, in the world of wildlife and elephant conservation, some of us find these facts rather concerning.
Recently, there was an event at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok hosted by the Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF). The location may not surprise most readers but the Mandarin typically heads the list as one of the finest hotels in the world. Finest translates into most expensive. Although the Mandarin name is not evident in the sign, the author is familiar with the lobby where it is placed as well as the hotel prices.
After noticing the WWF poster in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, we consulted with knowledgeable friends and discovered that the WWF CEO, Carter Roberts, was paid over $940,000 per year according to A look at their website indicated that of the $214 million in annual contributions, gifts and grants which included $58 million of government grants, some 74% found its way into their programs. I found the concept of government grants a bit strange. Moreover, the 74% statistic received a fair rating which makes you wonder about others. Moreover, the WWF is clearly a major business enterprise.
We have talked about the Wildlife Alliance in the past which has a number of elephant programs and alliances with The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. In their case, the CEO, Suwanna Gauntlett, receives an annual compensation of $120,000 and 84% of their total expenditures support their conservation efforts.
At this juncture, it is appropriate to tout the merits of our favorite foundation which I am sure does not surprise you.
The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) was set up in 2006 to improve the plight of Thailand's elephants. It has since been diversified to include welfare projects that incorporate broader philanthropic and cultural objectives with unprecedented success.
Over 30 elephants have been rescued from Thailand's city streets, accompanied by their entire mahout family and provided with a place to rest and grow. English lessons are arranged for the mahouts and their wives. Education is made available for their children and a silkworm business provides the wives with 100% of the profits made from the sales of their wares at the resort boutique.
In addition to performing street rescues, the GTAEF cooperates with the Thai government and other organizations in projects including supporting research and clinics using elephants in therapy sessions for children living with autism, helping equip the first elephant hospital in Krabi in the southern part of Thailand and donating a gantry to help lame elephants stand and a built for purpose elephant ambulance to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC), just to name a few.
The GTAEF has also built the world's only research facility dedicated to scientifically researching elephant intelligence and behavior. Along with their parent company, Minor International, working through international partners and the Cambodian Government GTAEF has, since 2013, funded the protection of an 18,000-hectare elephant corridor of standing forest in the Cardamom Mountains. Since this program began, the wildlife has become visible and wild elephants started using the forest again.
The annual expenditures on the GTAEF programs such as outlined above comprise 93% of their total expenditures, some 19 percentage points above the amount of money finding its way into the cause than that of the WWF which ranks fairly high among foundations.
Lastly, just to comment on The Elephant Story, our objective has been to contribute our annual gross margin to The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) and other qualified elephant-oriented foundations. That is to say when you purchase something from us we deduct only the cost of its purchase which forms the basis for the contribution. Therefore, no store salaries or expenses are deducted. Any direct contributions to The Elephant Story are sent in their entirety to the qualified foundations we support. This logic probably explains why the "day job" remains important to the author.

Discover The Elephant Story style.  Textiles and artifacts from Asian elephant countries and indigenous hill tribes transformed into an elegant casual style.
injiri Dhordo 17-Dress-Black
Hand-Beaded Round Sling Bag
Coral Ball Bracelet
Block Print Cotton Scarf 
Pillow Made of Karen Hill Tribe Fabric
 Vintage Siam Flag Cigarette Silks

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