An anonymous tipster writes:

A friend of mine who is a contractor at Greenpeace Australia Pacific is about to get the flick because they have suddenly realised that they are on the verge of bankruptcy. After taking a high risk strategy of running big deficits in the hope of a massive fundraising increase, they have suddenly panicked. Their three months reserve policy (see their financial report on their website) is gone, along with the reserves. To save the organisation, they have stopped hiring people for empty positions (I hear there are quite a few) and told all contractors that when their term contracts expire, they are out (this applies to about 20% of staff and their contracts generally expire by the end of the year). They have pretty much stopped any campaigning work for the rest of the year to save cash.

The CEO has left this disaster a couple of months ago (without even knowing it was coming) and has just taken up a position as CEO of the RSPCA in Australia. In the two weeks since this crisis began, one member of senior management has quit and the other 3 are under pressure to go. The new CEO starts in a few weeks.

The reason for this huge deficit – fund raising out of control. Fund raising expenses this year are around 50% of total organisation expenditure (up from 36% last year and around 30% in previous years).

For the next few months they are going to desperately try to find a few million to save from their annual budget. At the end of their review some full time staff are probably going to get the flick as well. Staff are close to starting a revolution.

The craziest thing about this is that fund raising income is above budget for the year and expenditure is below budget (because Greenpeace hardly does any campaigning any more). The whole disaster is because of financial incompetence by management.

On a side note – the board clearly didn’t see this coming either. Not quite sure what that bunch of pleasure cruisers are up to.

Sonia Zavesky, Greenpeace communications manager, responds:
Greenpeace Australia Pacific is not on the verge of bankruptcy. 3.8 million people worldwide give money to Greenpeace – in Australia Pacific we receive regular monthly donations of $1 million per month.

This year we will have more money donated to our work than ever before, and as our audited financial statements show, we maintain appropriate reserves. In line with our 5 year strategic fundraising plan, our investment in fundraising for the 04/05 tax year is 32% of turnover. This is annual planning and budget time and as we do every year we are looking at what campaigning work needs to be done and what staffing levels and operating budgets are required. As is the practise in most organisations, contract staff are brought in to cover busy periods, holiday cover etc. At the end of each contract period a decision is made on whether that contract needs to be extended. So while we can understand that some contract staff may find this difficult, it is simply wrong to say that all contractors are out, or that we are on shaky financial ground.

The simple truth is, that when your remit is to save the planet from environmental devastation, it’s hard to cut work. But our campaigning needs are changing, our methods of communicating are changing and we would be irresponsible managers if we did not adjust our structure and staffing levels accordingly.

As your article mentions, one senior manager has recently resigned: that is me. After 2.5 years working for an organisation I truly love, I have had to concede that being a sole parent and working for a global outfit that campaigns 24/7 around the globe, often in rapid response mode is no longer viable for me.

Greenpeace is the largest independent global environment organisation. We do not accept any funding from governments or business. We rely on donations from individuals who care about the planet to fund our work. We take our responsibility to our supporters very seriously, even if that means taking some measures that are unpopular with some individuals.