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December 16, 2018

Where Does $100 to the World Wildlife Fund Go?

by Anne Paddock

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is considered by many to be the leading conservation organization in the world. Established nearly 60 years ago in 1960, the WWF is based in Washington, DC but operates all over the world (in more than 100 countries).

The most recent IRS Form 990 (2016) reports financial information about the organization for the year beginning July 1, 2016 and ending June 30, 2017 (hereafter referred to as 2017).  A 501 (c) (3), WWF reports the following information on revenue, expenses, grants, assets, liabilities, and the organization’s net fund balance.

REVENUE

$226 million in revenue was reported in 2017 from the following sources:

  • $156 million:  Contributions, Gifts, and Grants
  • $ 58 million:  Government Grants
  • $ 12 million:  Investment Income, Gains, and Royalties

EXPENSES

In 2017, WWF reported spending $247 million – approximately $21 million more than raised. There are two ways to look at expenses: by broad general category (program expenses, grants, management, and fundraising) and by specific line item expense, with the latter providing more specific detail on expenses.

Expenses by Broad General Category

$247 million in expenses were spent in the following four (4) categories:

  • $120 million (or 53% of revenue):  Program Expenses
  • $ 78 million (or 34% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 34 million (or 15% of revenue):  Fundraising
  • $ 15 million (or 7% of revenue):  Management Expenses

Using the above information, $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 53:  Program Expenses

-$ 34:  Grants

-$87:  Subtotal: Program Services and Grants

$ 13:  Amount Remaining

-$ 15:  Fundraising

-$  7:  Management

-$ 22: Subtotal of Fundraising and Management

-$  9: Amount Overspent

As illustrated above, WWF spent $109 for every $100 in revenue received, which equates to spending $21 million more than revenue received.  They were able to do this because the organization had $337 million in net fund assets at the beginning of the year. After deducting the $21 million, the organization made an adjustment of $26 million for unrealized gains on investments and $6 million for changes in other assets to bring the net fund balance to $348 million at year-end.

Expenses by Specific Line Item Category

$247 million in expenses were spent in the following line item categories:

  • $ 87 million (or 39% of revenue) :  Compensation-related Expenses
  • $ 78 million (or 34% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 34 million (or 15% of revenue): Office-related Expenses
  • $ 23 million (or 10% of revenue):  Fees for Services (management, legal, accounting, lobbying, fundraising, investment, and other)
  • $ 12 million (or 5% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $  8 million (or 4% of revenue):  Other Expenses (royalties, interest, depreciation, and other)
  • $  5 million (or 2% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion

It is important to note that of the $23 million in fees paid to outside providers, $19 million is not detailed. In addition $3.8 million in other expenses are not detailed.

As illustrated above, the largest expense for WWF is compensation-related costs.

Using the above information, $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 39:  Compensation-related Expenses

-$ 15:  Office-related Expenses

-$ 10:  Fees for Services

-$  5:  Travel and Conferences

-$  4:  Other Expenses

-$  2:  Advertising and Promotion

-$ 75: Subtotal Expenses

$ 25:  Amount Remaining

-$ 34:  Grants

-$  9:  Amount Overspent

As illustrated above, WWF spent $75 out of every $100 on staff, office, fees for services, travel and conferences, other expenses, and advertising and promotion. $34 out of every $100 was spent on grants.

GRANTS

WWF is both a recipient of grants from the government and a grantor of grants, primarily to overseas organizations. In 2017, WWF was awarded $58 million in government grants and provided $78 million in grants, $4 million to domestic organizations and $74 million to overseas organizations.

With 40 offices (and 518 employees) in regional offices overseas (primarily in South America and South Asia), WWF’s focus is clearly overseas ($337 grants greater than $5,000 and totaling $74 million were to organizations overseas) with grants concentrated in the five (5) regions:

  • $18 million:  Sub Sahara Africa
  • $16 million:  South America
  • $12 million:  East Asia and the Pacific
  • $12 million:  Europe
  • $11 million:  South Asia

Grants to domestic organizations totaled $4 million with the following organizations the recipients of the ten largest grants:

  • $1,089,384:  Cooperative for Assis and Relief (CARE)
  • $  318,171:  International Snow Leopard Trust
  • $  300,000:  The Nature Conservancy
  • $  250,025:  Conservation X Labs
  • $  243,754:  DOI, National Park Service, Badlands Nation
  • $  219,688:  Stanford University
  • $  217,229:  World Food Logistics Organization
  • $  136,122:  University of Washington
  • $  116,000:  Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Foundation
  • $  102,000:  Cornell University

ASSETS

Assets totaled $489 million at year-end with concentrations in five areas:

  • $234 million:  Securities (of which $129 million is in partnerships)
  • $ 78 million:  Accounts Receivable
  • $ 66 million:  Land, Buildings, and Equipment
  • $ 56 million:  Cash
  • $ 46 million:  Grants Receivable

LIABILITIES

Liabilities totaled $140 million at year-end with the largest three liabilities:

  • $ 55 million:  Secured Notes Payable
  • $ 40 million:  Grants Payable
  • $ 28 million:  Accounts Payable

NET FUND ASSETS

At year-end, WWF had $348 million in net fund assets, an increase of $12 million from the previous year ($336 million) even though the organization spent $21 million more than they raised. The increase is primarily attributable to a net unrealized gain on investments.

Of the $348 million in net fund assets, $158 million was unrestricted, $147 million temporarily restricted, and $43 million restricted.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2016) for the year ending June 30, 2017, click here.

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