Dear St. Brendan:
I know you are not actually St. Brendan The Navigator because he lived and died in the 6th century. But, according to Listserv.com, St. Brendan is the patron saint of whales (not Wales, that’s St. David). Whales, the air breathing mammals that WDC, and you, are clearly committed to protecting.
I respect your desire to remain anonymous and I may never know if you see my thanks to you or not, but just in case, thank you for your generous and timely donation. Not only that, but I must thank you profusely for enabling us to use your donation at our discretion.
You have allowed us to fund the things that are at the core of our work- like computers, electricity, phones, and toilet paper- yes, an office full of people requires many kinds of supplies. I understand why some individuals and foundations restrict their funding, but you clearly trust us to use your donation to support our mutual cause: to ensure the planet can keep its whales, dolphins and while we are at it, their environment too.
I am incredibly proud that more than 80% of our funding goes directly to programs (as opposed to overheads, marketing or administration costs). It’s not easy. We do not outsource our mailings. Instead, our staff, interns, and volunteers fold the letters and stuff the envelopes you receive in the mail. We clean our own office, print both sides of a page before it can be recycled, and most of our office furniture has been donated to us. We make every effort to make sure that the money we receive from our supporters is going where they want it to go- to save whales and dolphins. But to do that, we do need to make sure we can function.
Your timing is impeccable. Our computer server is old (by computer standards) and nearly full (by anyone’s standards). Our server holds more than 230,000 images of whales and hundreds of thousands of files including sightings data, reports, petitions, and documents we use for research, conservation and education. The hard drives on two of our computers crashed in the past month, and one is ailing as I type.
Next month, we will officially launch “Act Right Now”, our campaign to save the fewer than 500 remaining North Atlantic right whales, a species which can survive, if we can just stop running them over with vessels and entangling them in fishing gear. We are asking NOAA to increase their designated Critical Habitat, just as they agreed to do following our petition we submitted to them over three years ago!
We are still seeking funds to print materials we developed for the school curriculum, and then there is the reward fund we are developing with NOAA which will help stop the harassment and torture of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico (we already have a reward offered for information leading to the prosecution of whomever drove a screwdriver in the head of a living dolphin, who suffered an agonizing death).
We also need funds to complete the second phase of our scar study which shows that at least one out of ten humpbacks in the Southern Gulf of Maine has been hit by a boat. During phase two of our study we will pinpoint the size of the propellers, and therefore vessel classes responsible.
I could go on but I know you already see the picture clearly and I also know that you would want me to recognize openly that all our supporters give their hard-earned money and their valuable free time to make the oceans safe for the whales and dolphins that we all, collectively, care for. I am as humbled by your gift as we all are by the donations of supporters on fixed incomes or the child who asks his friends to forego buying a birthday present and donate the money to WDC instead.
While the holidays may be the ‘season’ for giving, we are all blessed by the generosity that is not seasonal-bound. It is fueled by a shared passion to protect whales and dolphins, and the oceans on which we all rely.
Thank you St. Brendan, whoever you are, but you are surely true to your patronage of the world’s whales. Thank you not only for your generosity, but your commitment and belief in our work. Thanks too, to all the St. Brendans who make a difference each day. What you did, and what you do, matters.