• January 27, 2015

Nature Conservancy Lays Off 10% of Its Staff

The Nature Conservancy, one of the nation’s largest charities, today said that it is reducing its staff by 10 per cent, due to the worsening economy coupled with a drop in donations and other income.

The cutbacks come as many other nonprofit organizations, large and small, are laying off staff members. (See The Chronicle‘s new article on layoffs, including a tally of the groups that have reported cutbacks.)

Nature Conservancy staff members were told of the layoffs, some of which are still pending, in a meeting held at the charity’s Arlington, Va., headquarters this afternoon.

Jim Petterson, chief communications officer, said that staff members had been notified some weeks ago that efforts to trim the Nature Conservancy’s budget could include job losses.

“Unfortunately, the recession and subsequent declines in revenue require that we implement staff reductions to further reduce expenses,” said Mark Tercek, the charity’s president, in a written statement. “These reductions are designed to keep the Conservancy on a sustainable funding path and positioned well to capitalize on future conservation opportunities….We are committed to supporting our colleagues and their families through this difficult transition.”

While Mr. Tercek’s statement did not include figures on how much the Nature Conservancy’s revenues have declined, The Chronicle’s interviews in recent weeks with officials there give some indication of how contributions have slowed, even as the charity pushes to complete a campaign to raise $1.6-billion by next year.

At least $32-million donors had expected to give through charitable remainder trusts, gift annuities, and other planned gifts are now on hold because of the economy, according to Angela Sosdian, the Nature Conservancy’s director of philanthropy for gift planning. That is equivalent to the amount such gifts typically produce in an entire year.

“There is long list of individuals who said they want to wait until the market turns around,” Ms. Sosdian said. “No one knows how quickly the market will rebound, and we don’t know what threshold donors are looking for to move forward.”

The Nature Conservancy raised more money than all but two dozen charities in 2007, placing it at No. 25 on The Chronicle’s most recent Philanthropy 400 ranking of the charities that raise the most money in the United States.

If you know about charity that is reducing staff because of the economy, let The Chronicle know by sending an e-mail message to editor@philanthropy.com. We’ll post new additions to our list as we confirm them.

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