Mike Medberry's report on big foundations, national conservation coalitions and grassroots conservation was thoughtful and respectful of the subject's complexities (HCN, 10/16/95). The Pew Charitable Trusts was featured in Mike's piece. Many conservationists are not wild about Pew. I have experience of Pew as an employee of a grantee and as steering committee chair of a grantee. I cannot sum it up fairly in a few paragraphs, so I won't try.
But here's a piece of it. In 1994, Pew gave the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and 11 of its member groups a large grant for our Columbia Basin Campaign. The campaign is an ambitious and necessarily long-term effort to end the egregious salmon- and salmon-economy-killing status quo of the multi-dam Federal Columbia River Power System (and thereby unlock many other doors).
This is David and Goliath work - and we aren't Goliath. The heart of it is Pew saw 12 disparate groups that wanted to work together on a major initiative, had a reasonably clear notion of what their work would be, and had some track record - and they gave us the resources to really take off.
In the extremely adverse political circumstances of 1995, we (thanks to expanded resources and with a lot of help) stymied some very bad stuff and made real progress in our cohesion and capabilities for the year ahead. These good things, and what we achieve in the year to come, Pew helped greatly to make possible.
Pat Ford works for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.