"You don't see this kind of commitment in many workplaces." said Audubon President John Flicker. "Our staff really cares about conservation and we're putting our money where our mission is."
"We didn't create the problems in the economy, but this is our way of doing something about them. It's more effective to ask our donors to stick with us when we've first given ourselves," added Flicker.
The employee giving effort began after Audubon CEO Flicker held a series of all-staff calls to personnel across the country to talk about expense reductions that would be necessary in response to projected decreases in donations from foundations and other sources. Some painful expense reductions had already been implemented and Flicker explained that more, including some layoffs and furloughs likely lie ahead. Despite the tough news, staff rallied around the idea of a donation program that would help to keep core conservation programs strong.
An employee giving program was set up in late February to allow a workforce spread across scores of conservation program offices, nature Centers and sanctuaries to make voluntary contributions through after-tax payroll deductions. Extra care was taken to ensure that giving information remained confidential so that no staffer would feel pressured to donate. Still, more than 160 (30%) of Audubon's full-time workers have so far committed to gifts totaling more than $825,000.
"I didn't know what to expect when we launched the program. We were asking for much larger gifts than most staff has ever made, especially during a recession. I've been truly inspired by the generous response. I hope it also inspires others who care about conservation," adds Flicker. "Audubon staff is showing they're not just working for a check…they're working for a better world."