In the fall of 2014, the Foundation conducted a detailed study of the pattern of fund raising over the then 42 years of its history, a process that was facilitated by the consistent, thorough financial records maintained by Judith Towle since the start of the Foundation.
The link here will download a spreadsheet that details the Foundation’s sources of programmatic income (totaling over $9 million) for the projects implemented by IRF from 1971 to the date of the survey in 2014. This information is then summarized by source of funding and year, averaged over the four-year average length of each project and then charted in the Excel workbook “IRF Revenues 1971-2014 Presentation Summary Data & Graphs.xlsx”.
A few general conclusions that the Foundation took from this data were:
- Private funds are key as catalytic tools to encourage or permit the development of larger programs; but private money has not been sufficient to maintain the Foundation’s core program funding requirements.
- In the Foundation’s experience, both US domestic government programs and US official development assistance for international, small-island projects were essential elements for major programs such as the Foundation’s regional initiatives for NGO strengthening and biodiversity conservation. The loss of access to these direct US-funded grants (many of which were later routed through mega-NGOs operating in the Caribbean, such as The Nature Conservancy, or “third-party” contracting groups such as the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) greatly limited IRF’s continued access to funding.
- International organizations and foreign government programs (e.g., UNEP/GEO or the UK’s OTEP Initiative) have become useful supplementary sources of funds, but they are not regularly or reliably accessible.
- In the Foundation’s experience high rates of turnover by donor staff, too-short periods of performance, and insufficient resources for multi-island communications were continuing problems in maintaining long-term access to resources.
In the IRF Blog on November 20th, 2007, “Financial Realities for Caribbean Environmental NGOs,” IRF president Bruce Potter offered an overview of the political dynamics of environmental funding in the developing world in general, and especially as it is accessible to small islands. This blog provides a different framework (viz., political versus financial) for the same ultimate conclusion as is demonstrated by the data presented herein.