The World Wildlife Fund was established in 1961 by E.M. Nicholson, Peter Scott, Julian Huxley and several other leading conservationists of the day as a means to secure funding for existing wildlife protection groups such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Conservation Foundation. While these groups were already doing work to help the environment, their biggest obstacle was a lack of consistent funding with which to maintain their projects. The WWF therefore acted as a financial backing institution; organizing donations, partnerships, trusts, and government allocations to guarantee the continuation of their conservation efforts.
Today, the WWF is truly a “world” organization – the same year that it was founded in Switzerland, it established a partnering chapter in the United States, and has since expanded to operate in over 100 different countries. Although funding various conservation efforts is still the core function of the foundation, it has used its success to expand the scope of its work as well. Funding received today now goes not just to conservation and scientific research, but also to establishing protected nature preserves, aiding communities sharing land with precious wildlife, combating illegal trade and poaching, monitoring and investigation efforts, developing environmental sustainability technology, fighting climate change, lobbying for environmental policies, and general outreach and education to teach everyone how to live in harmony with nature.
Since its creation, the WWF has invested in over 13,000 projects around the globe. The Fund currently operates approximately 1,300 projects, with those being divided up into six focused categories: wildlife, forests, oceans, climate, food, and fresh water. It has helped bring species like the white rhinoceros and wild tigers back from the brink of extinction, has cemented partnerships with institutions and businesses as large as the World Bank and Coca-Cola Company, and supported the landmark Paris Climate Agreement in 2016.