Just a few years ago, Nature First was an idea discussed by photographers wanting to somehow address the increasing impact of nature photography on the natural world. We talked about it in cafes, restaurants and out in the field, wondering if it might be possible to actually do something to stem the tide.
Today, Nature First has grown to become a registered organization with over 5,000 members in 70 nations and a growing voice in the global nature photography community. Yet in many ways we feel like we are just starting. There is still so much that needs to be done.
Like any meaningful organization, whether it be Doctors Without Borders, The World Wildlife Federation or Leave No Trace, there comes a time when additional staffing and financing are necessary to reach the goals for which the organization was established. We at Nature First have now reached that point.
Until now, all the costs have been covered by the personal donations of just a few volunteers. These costs included website hosting, newsletter software, video conferencing subscription, graphic design work, printing of initial promotional materials, government fees, social media scheduling software, and more. As Nature First works in the coming years to expand our influence, support international messaging campaigns and fulfill our mission, the costs will become more than can be covered by just a few individuals.
Our plan to address the need for financing involves a few different elements. Firstly, we are hoping that many of you, who are already on this journey with us, will be inspired to make a donation of $10 to $15 a year. If enough people give a little bit, it will make a big difference. Secondly, we are planning to start a sponsorship program later in the year to enable organizations and businesses to support the work of Nature First. Additionally, in the future we may establish several Nature First membership levels with benefits that correspond to the donated amount.
The steady and strong expansion of Nature First’s membership and the corresponding increase in our global activities is a sign that we are an organization that has the capacity to make a difference in this world. Scaling up our efforts will not be possible without financial support. We’ve now added a donation page which you can use to help support the Nature First mission. If you believe in Nature First, join us in supporting it.
Below we’ve added some answers to questions you may have. Please reach out to us if you have additional questions. We’re glad to be in this together with you.
How do I know how my donation will be used?
One of the things we highly value as an organization is integrity. We are committed to operating with transparency. You’ll find our public commitment to this on the Nature First website.
A good way to get an idea of how your donation will be used is to view our budget that details our anticipated expenses for the next three years. You are welcome to write and request this. This initial budget is a bit rough as we are in the early stages of the organization, but it will give you a good sense of where we are heading and what types of expenses we are anticipating.
Also, at the end of each year we are required to give a full report for the United States Internal Revenue Service about what the organization has done and how it has spent its money. This is available here on the Nature First website.
Does the Nature First leadership get any of this money?
No. The bylaws of Nature First clearly state that there are no salaries or compensation for the services for board members. In a similar way, no volunteer is ever paid for their work. In early 2022 we hired our first Nature First staff member to help manage the growing number of volunteers, but they have a contract and are overseen by the board. This will all be clearly reported in our financial documents and in our yearly report, which will be publicly available.
Along these lines, you may want to review our Conflict of Interest Policy which clearly specifies how the leadership of Nature First avoids any form of self-payment or self-benefit.
Do you accept donations in different currencies?
Yes, through PayPal, we can receive donations in any currency.
Why are you asking for individual donations rather than relying on large grants?
We have registered in the United States with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501c3 organization with a special classification as a 509(a)(1). This registration requires us to prove that the organization is a benefit to the public. One of the ways we must prove this is by receiving at least 1/3 of our donations from the general public.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes, if you live in the United States your donation to Nature Firs is tax-deductible as we are now a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. At the beginning of each year we send out an official letter to all donors from the past year stating the amount they have given during the year and verifying that those donations can be claimed as tax-exempt in their next tax filing.