In 1960, Sir Julian Huxley, a British biologist who traveled to East Africa to observe conservation efforts in that region, predicted that many species of animals could become extinct within 20 years. This drove a small group of people that included Huxley to create an organization aimed at protecting and preserving wildlife and natural resources. They signed the Morges Manifesto, stating that there was expertise to protect Earth's environment, but that financial support was lacking [source: WWF History].
Officially established in 1961 and headquartered in Switzerland, the World Wildlife Fund aimed to gather funding for wildlife protection by working with existing organizations. The WWF soon began to fund projects such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and the International Waterfowl Research Bureau. The first president of the WWF was H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands [source: World Wildlife Fund]. President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the U.S. also was named a president of Honor when the organization began. The current chairmen are Roger W. Sant, of Washington, D.C., founder of the AES Corporation, and Lawrence H. Linden, who is founder of the Linden Trust for Conservation. The program now is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The overarching goals of people in WWF offices are to raise public awareness, fund research on environmental issues, influence environmental policies and direct local conservation efforts. The WWF works in more than 100 countries worldwide. The organization has 1.2 million U.S. members and nearly 5 million members globally [source: World Wildlife Fund].
WWF offices operate either as independent entities or under the direction of another independent WWF office. The National Appeals, now called National Organizations, operate as separate entities that have their own governing boards. They channel most of the funds collected to the international secretariat and retain about one-third of their raised funds to spend on projects of their choosing. In its 2010 annual report, the WWF reported total revenue of more than $224 million [source: Financial Overview].
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