WCN protects endangered species and preserves their natural habitats by supporting entrepreneurial conservationists who pursue innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive.
Charlie Knowles and Akiko Yamazaki had three very important things in common; they were both products of Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation, they were both philanthropists eager to invest in worthwhile causes, and they were both wildlife lovers. In 2001, they met at a time in each of their lives where they were looking to bring these qualities together to do something transformative. They first crossed paths as a result of a reception Charlie was hosting for the world’s most beloved conservationist, Jane Goodall, an auspicious way to spark new efforts to save wildlife. With wildlife species going extinct at an alarming rate, Charlie and Akiko wanted to find a new conservation model to reverse the trend.
Charlie had been having similar discussions about finding new ways to protect wildlife with John Lukas, a seasoned conservationist and director of the White Oak Conservation Center at the time. The three of them joined forces and created the Wildlife Conservation Network, a great combination of John’s invaluable conservation knowledge and Charlie and Akiko’s entrepreneurial backgrounds.
Together, these founders had a shared objective: apply their conservation experience, business acumen, and entrepreneurial know-how to support small scale conservationists with big potential AND help donors support these conservationists in an efficient and effective way. These are still the primary pillars of WCN’s work.
Although Akiko Yamazaki, Charlie Knowles, and John Lukas get the credit for founding the Wildlife Conservation Network, WCN was really born from the collective vision of thousands of conservationists and supporters. Since its beginning, WCN has embodied this spirit of community and collaboration, celebrating the contribution of each individual while simultaneously espousing an “it takes a village” attitude.
WCN started with a couple of employees working out of co-Founder Charlie Knowles’ guest house, raising $600,000 in its first year; it has since grown to a San Francisco-based office with a 20-person staff who raised over $21 million for conservation last year. Though we have grown our Partner Network, staff, and dollars raised for conservation, our core values remain the same.
We do it for wildlife.
Our wildlife conservation focus is inspirational and drives our desires and choices to have the highest quality impact as possible. We are passionate about our work, as individuals, as a team, and as a network, and believe we can all make unique contributions for the greater good of wildlife and people.
We spend money as if our 86-year-old grandmother had given it to us to do good.
We respect and cherish the trust and financial investments our donors make in us, and honor it with our transparency, accountability, and efficiency. We embrace doing more with less, striving for nimble and non-bureaucratic support, and seeking smarter ways to maximize returns on investments without compromising financial integrity and service quality.
It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t care who gets the credit.
The challenges we face are best served by diverse and inclusive approaches, excellent communication, transparency, trust, mutual respect, and humility. We welcome and appreciate all that everyone does for wildlife conservation and leverage our respective strengths to make the whole more than the sum of the parts.
We foster a culture of abundance that considers the “and” before the “or”.
We generously give support in whatever ways we can (financial, time, skills, trust, spirit, …) to help each other as a team, as a network, and as a community.
There’s always more to try and to learn.
Data informs our decisions and constant quest for self-improvement and innovation. As an organization or as individuals, we hold ourselves accountable and welcome, solicit, and act upon metrics, facts, and feedback to document our results and impacts. Without fear of failure, we analytically seek innovations and refinements to implement the best strategies and tactics going forward.
We strive to go above and beyond expectations.
Whether it is with donors, conservationists or our staff, we go the extra mile to listen, to be engaged, fair, honest, empathetic, helpful, and to do what we say we are going to do. We are present and engaged with everyone, listening to their needs and aspirations to deliver experiences beyond their expectations.
People make conservation happen—they are its greatest resource.
Our work starts and ends with choices people make here and abroad. We value the contributions people make, and recognize that to give the best of ourselves to our mission, we must also take care of ourselves and others and strive for a balanced, safe, and healthy lifestyle.
We’re all in this together.
We create, foster, and grow a respectful and supportive community—starting with our team and extending to our conservation network, donors, and beyond.
Trust and Your Privacy
Trust and Your Privacy
Your support is extremely important to us; we greatly value your trust and your privacy. Therefore, we do not sell or trade the personal information of our donors, we keep all donor information confidential and treat it with the respect we would treat our own.