Yesterday I had a meeting with Rainforest Partnership’s CEO Niyanta Spelman, about our response to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)- more on that later- and during our meeting she asked us a question:
Do you believe your position should be a paid one, or a volunteer one?
Slightly confused and a little panicked, I responded that I believe everyone deserves to get paid for their work, and several other talking points for why I think my position should be a paid one (for context, I’m RP’s Director of Engagement, Sophie- nice to meet you!) After responses from the rest of my teammates, Niyanta elaborated:
I wouldn’t walk into a coffee shop and order a $4 cup of coffee and then say “Instead of paying $4, I’m going to give you $2, because that’s what these materials cost you”, because that wouldn’t account for all of the people who worked to get this cup of coffee to me.
But this is the corner that many organizations get backed into. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting only to fund a specific project; but it doesn’t account for all of the people behind the scenes helping bring those projects to fruition.
Now to the IPCC’s latest report: it states that the planet has now reached a point of no return: no matter what we do, sea levels will continue to rise. Ditto for extreme rainfall and extreme heat. BUT (as also described in their 2018 report), staying under the limit of a 1.5C increase compared to a 2C increase would help the planet avoid the most catastrophic scenarios. To avoid that extra .5C increase, we would need to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, and reach net zero emissions by 2050.
How? By a) reducing emissions (greenhouse gases) as much as possible using clean technology, and b) absorbing remaining emissions with carbon capture technologies, i.e. trees. Not only planting new trees, but keeping existing trees (rainforests) standing. Rainforest protection is our greatest first defense to slow the tide of the climate crisis -we don't have time to waste on this anymore.
I had a whole different message typed up, but that meeting yesterday shifted my mindset. And, following on the tail of last week’s report from the IPCC, I no longer feel hesitant about what we’re asking, and why.
A while back, we created a name for RP’s supporters who chose to become monthly donors: the Forest Keepers. Because I knew then but realize even more so now that these are some of the most important supporters an organization has. By donating monthly, you are making a statement that says you trust in, believe in, and value an organization’s work. You are paying the full $4 price for that cup of coffee, knowing that there is more than just the cost of materials to cover.
I’m not saying that all monthly donations will pay our salaries or our internet bill; for us, project funding is still what is most urgently needed. But, by giving monthly, you are providing predictable income so that we can spend more time on strategic planning, project costs, operation logistics, and less time on fundraising. You are helping us ensure long term efficacy, success, and expansion of our impact, without being forced to fundraise on-the-go. And this request couldn’t be more timely; for example, with new plans to expand and work with 6 indigenous peoples comprising 9 communities along Peru’s eastern border, we are in urgent need of support.*
Through our projects and partnerships, Rainforest Partnership already incorporates into our work many of the IPCC recommendations to avoid exceeding a temperature increase greater than 1.5C in the coming decade. The many facets of our model target the root causes of deforestation and forest degradation from all angles, creating a 360° ripple effect that makes for tangible, permanent, self-sustaining change.**
If you’re still with me, thank you so much for reading. And now I must ask: will you entrust us with the awesome task of protecting rainforests by becoming a Forest Keeper? And, to honor your support and commitment to safeguarding the future of our planet, we’ll send the Forest Keepers quarterly updates on projects so you’ll know where your support is going.
I'll leave you with these final words from Niyanta:
"Rainforest protection is not charity; it is essential, planet-saving work. We dare the world to recognize this, to respect and value those working everyday to protect forests with urgency - like our lives depend on it. Because they do."
With hope and gratitude for forests everywhere,
Sophie Molinari & the Rainforest Partnership Team
* This project has an initial startup cost of $15K- please write to me if you are interested in funding this project, or want to know more: email@example.com
** If you need help selecting organizations to trust with your dollar, check out the guide we recently created.