We can solve a lot of problems with money. Also, when we take care of ourselves, we have a chance to help others and the planet. How can we change the world and save the planet if we’re broke?! While we may not have gone into nature conservation to make money, it’s certainly needed in order to look after ourselves and our families, and it’s essential to the running of our NGOs and implementing conservation activities.
However, none of us are trained in financial management or fundraising. Funny, eh?! It’s not even considered essential within our state education systems. No wonder the world went through the global financial crisis in 2007. I, personally, was heavily impacted by it. I followed a well-trodden path of settling down with a new job, two small children, a happy marriage, and a mortgage. A reasonable mortgage - not overstretching ourselves. When the financial crisis happened and Ireland went bust, the value of our house plummeted and we found ourselves in negative equity. A term I hadn’t really understood before.
I know about science. I know about nature. I have a first class honours undergraduate degree, a Ph.D., and am a Fulbright alumnus. But I knew virtually nothing about finances. I thought I didn’t need to. I now know differently. It isn’t enough to wear blinkers and focus on our areas of interest and passion. We need to have a range of skills in order to take care of ourselves, our families, and our planet. This includes financial skills. Not only are these essential for our personal lives but they are crucial for the health of our NGOs and achieving the impact that we are so passionate about. A well-run, financially sustainable NGO has the capacity to make mission-driven decisions and has the space to focus on achieving impact.
When we are financially stressed, this becomes our overarching focus. It becomes distracting, absorbing, and incapacitating. In the face of the biodiversity crisis, we cannot afford any distractions. We need to have solid ground beneath us so that we have the capacity to reach out and help others and the planet. We need to become good at the business we do, not just the technical work that we do. An NGO can be an amazing vehicle for achieving impact and professional fulfilment but only if we figure out how to run successful and financially sustainable NGOs.
We created We Are All Wonder Women for those of us who feel that we could benefit from help on the non-technical side. To help us all achieve professional success - both for our own careers and for nature conservation.
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We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.