The greenies are running out of green.
Despite a series of high-profile and acidic campaigns against the likes of Nestle, Cadbury, Fonterra, Sealord, Cottonsoft and its parent APP, and the most satanic of them all, Big Oil, Greenpeace hasn’t generated enough donations from the devout membership to even get close to breaking even. It emerged in mid-July that Greenpeace New Zealand posted a 69% drop in full-year profit in 2011, down nearly $550,000 on the year before.
It’s not just a lack of donor goodness that’s to blame. The lowly New Zealand branch of the Greenpeace empire was required to make a bigger payout to its global parent in 2011, and gave Greenpeace International $1.9 million, around $450,000 more than in 2010.
I bet that hurt. After all, they’ve been trying so hard. Under the careful stewardship of ‘Bunny-boiler’ McDiarmid, the Kiwi team laboured exhaustively last year to bring the nation’s attention to a plague of alleged environmental wrongdoing by some of the best-known Kiwi brands. They used their tried-and-true tactics – a video of a dying tiger or homeless orangutan never goes amiss – to cut straight to the moral core of the nation and generate cashflow. The greenies know better than anyone what a pack of soft touches we are – per capita, New Zealanders and Australians give more to charity than any other nations. We’ve also been a reliable source of income for Greenpeace specifically.
So, the money collected here is flying offshore. How is it being used? Greenpeace’s 2010 annual report devotes one of its 32 pages to the subject, and notes that funds raised in the preceding year meant it “could commit significant resources to our fight against dangerous Arctic oil drilling, get companies to stop buying palm oil from rainforest destruction, and challenge bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean, for example.” It also mentioned keeping up pressure on companies to eliminate toxic chemicals and strengthening its campaign for sustainable agriculture.
If that was enough detail for the faithful, no skin off my nose. They have all the transparency of the Meatworkers Union it appears.
But donations are drying up, so let’s ponder why. Perhaps Kiwi givers are a bit tired of seeing their cash disappear into some distant consolidated fund in Europe. Surely some were concerned about Greenpeace being prevented by the High Court from continuing to register as a charity due to its political activities. Others might have noticed that even before the black hole of 2011, the Asia Pacific wing had suffered three consecutive years of losses totalling more than $3 million.
Still others might have doubted that Greenpeace’s complaints stacked up. Companies like Fonterra and Nestle have giant sustainability programmes, certifications and endless shots of smiling farmers plastered all over their websites.
APP has a whole site dedicated to the matter, Rainforest Realities, where it announced recently that in an industry first, three of its Indonesian mills have secured SVLK certification, making them the first pulp and paper mills in the country to achieve certification under the new Wood Legality Verification System. Consumers are left to decide whose word they trust more, and the evidence suggests it’s not Greenpeace.
After its embarrassing numbers were reported, in rare defensive mode Greenpeace posted a ‘correction statement’ online to address what it called “some misunderstanding” by the media “in understanding the financial position of the organisation.”
I’m no accountant, but I’m guessing that position is somewhat fucked. Too busy boiling saving bunnies to bother balancing the books, Ms McDiarmid?