This blog follows on from yesterday’s.
If there are too many wildlife NGOs (as I believe, and as some of you believe) then how will mergers or closer working come about?
There are four major stakeholders involved: the senior staff in the NGOs, their trustees and their members – oh yes, and the Nature whose conservation we all want. But Nature doesn’t have a voice and so one or more of the other three need to speak up for Nature. However, it is worth mentioning Nature because that should be a beneficiary of the decisions of the other three players.
Who can name the Chief Executives of the following wildlife NGOs: RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, WWF-UK, Buglife, Marine Conservation Society, Butterfly Conservation, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Plantlife? How many did you get out of eight? My guess would be not very many: two? three? And what does that tell us – not much really but I thought I’d ask!
When it comes to trustees of these organisations then I am fairly sure that you don’t know many at all. I don’t know very many and I am fairly sure that my knowledge in this area is quite a bit more extensive than most readers of this blog. And what does that tell us – nothing much really except that I suspect we don’t know much about the people who have the power in wildlife NGOs.
Except we have power ourselves because we are the major funders of NGOs and money talks. Actually, a finely crafted letter to a Chief Executive or Chair of trustees can talk quite a lot too. NGOs are quite like MPs – they are there partly to represent our views and to do what we want but most of us hardly ever express a view.
Maybe we should?
Here’s a closing thought on wildlife NGOs for you to ponder. My view is that wildlife NGOs aren’t very good at collaboration or competition amongst themselves. They very rarely compete against each other openly. No NGO markets itself as having ‘saved more water voles than any other UK NGO’ or even ‘having the best nature reserves in East Anglia’. They don’t put themselves forwards as the best place for our money. Is that odd?
And when it comes to collaboration, which brings us back to yesterday’s blog, I think there is a lot more that could be done – particularly in the area of advocacy to government. Rarely do NGOs subsume their identities in a common campaign – it happens but it is rare.
So NGO land is a land of soft competition and weak collaboration, in my view. Is this how it ought to be – maybe it is. Or maybe my view is wrong and I’m not seeing it clearly enough. What do you think?