It can be easy to feel despair with a doubling population, hotter and drier weather, climate pollution threatening our health and well-being, and demands on water and land growing far beyond sustainability. However, there is hope. WRA is doing the important work of creating a healthier and more equitable future for all our communities. We’re using every tool we have to tackle the largest sources of carbon pollution, protect and restore our rivers and water supply, and connect the West’s unparalleled landscapes.
The mounting impacts of the climate crisis require us to act aggressively to address them and accelerate our timelines. We need to maintain a hard and fast pace to successfully chart a different course in this critical seven-year window that we have to fight climate change; we call on donors to urgently scale up with us. Fortunately, there are many different ways to build a more hopeful future through your giving, no matter the amount.
Sustaining gifts — those that repeat or can be counted on in the future — help WRA plan for and drive the sophisticated policy needed to solve complex problems. They offer an easy way to boost the power of your giving. Meet three WRA donors leveraging their philanthropy to create sustaining support in the fight against climate change.
For Chris Tallackson, his commitment to conservation started with his first job and has carried on throughout his career. While growing up in Oregon, the first state to enact a bottle bill setting a minimum refund value, Tallackson worked as a bottle sorter in high school. He saw firsthand the many benefits of environmental legislation, including job creation and recycling. Fast-forward, and Tallackson landed on the development team of WRA in 2016. He gained a deep respect for WRA’s reputation as a trusted, well-informed, and determined advocate for balanced solutions that enhance the health and vitality of communities.
Now working for the state of Utah, Tallackson gives monthly to WRA, allowing him to take his philanthropy to a higher level than an annual gift. He loves living amid the expansive and inspiring beauty of the West and trusts WRA to deliver on its mission of protecting that wildness. “WRA exemplifies the role of an impartial expert, setting ambitious goals and tackling the biggest solutions by engaging decision makers over the long haul,” Tallackson says. Giving monthly as a sustaining donor is one of the ways he lives out his continued commitment to conservation.
As a young man, Bob Benson fell for the grand openness and welcoming character of the West on work trips from his home in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Cynthia took a chance and relocated to Colorado in 1975, raising their family in Evergreen. The Bensons established a family foundation in 2002, formalizing giving as a family affair. When their children, then young adults, highlighted rising temperatures as a critical area needing to be addressed, WRA was one organization that rose to the top in terms of approach and impact. Since then, the Bensons have been steadfast supporters and valued partners.
Early in his career, Benson learned that audacious projects take a great deal of time from conception and development to implementation and evaluation. He believes the same is true for the major policy shifts WRA is working toward. The Bensons made a generous three-year pledge to support the urgent progress needed by 2025 to meet critical 2030 goals in the fight against climate change. Benson reflects, “When WRA shows up, they’ve done their homework and present informed, compelling cases that clearly identify the problems and propose pragmatic solutions. At the end of the day, decision makers have to make thoughtful decisions utilizing sound information.” This leading multi-year investment by the Benson Family Foundation provides much-needed resources to advance clean energy and protect air, land, water, and wildlife through state-based policy.
A move to Arizona from the East Coast in 2021 changed the way Susan Collins perceives and interacts with environmental issues. With a passion for animal conservation and the natural world, Collins is in daily awe of where she lives. Her work as Deputy Head of Interpretation and Resource Education at Grand Canyon National Park gives her direct experience with the impacts that we have on our environment and their many implications. She sees not only how interconnected we are as human beings, but also with our environment and ecosystems.
Collins was drawn to WRA’s holistic approach to environmental issues, one that seeks to combine the cultural heritage of Indigenous people with hard science to reimagine how we engage with nature. When it came time to update her will, she was inspired to allocate gifts to organizations working on issues she cares most about. “I don’t have a lot to give right now, but should I die, I would have big enough retirement wealth that could hopefully make a difference. I feel strongly that I want any inheritance that I have to go to something bigger. I think that it’s important to contribute, and this is one way that I can,” Collins shared. Impressed by the quality of WRA’s work and our engagement with her as a donor, she felt that including WRA as a beneficiary was an easy choice. WRA is honored and grateful to have Collins’s trust and support to continue to make solutions possible long into the future.
We are incredibly grateful for these and all WRA supporters who have partnered with us to realize countless wins for the environment over the last 30+ years. Our new strategic plan offers donors to WRA continued opportunities to support bold and urgent action in the fight against climate change. Addressing the complex issues we face requires all available resources and calls on us all to do what we can to live within the limits of the natural world. We’d be honored to work with you to leverage your giving to shape a better future.