Building Organizational Resilience for Rainforest Conservation

 In 2020, Project Summary

DocuSign employees designed and delivered capacity-building workshops to Rainforest Trust’s NGO partners working to protect critical ecosystems around the world.

Background: Since 1988, Rainforest Trust has protected more than 24 million acres of tropical habitat across Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific and has projects underway that will protect an additional 29 million to achieve their goal of 50 million acres by the end of 2020. Their work begins by identifying the most threatened landscapes for endangered species and creating strategies to protect these vital habitats. Rainforest Trust builds lasting partnerships built with local conservation organizations to develop and implement science-based sustainable solutions for permanent protection.

Rainforest Trust has been able to accomplish incredible work over the last 30 years, saving more than 24 million acres of critical land and rainforests via NGO partnerships from local project areas. These NGOs are staffed by committed national conservationists and volunteers who believe in the importance of preserving their natural resources by preventing deforestation. Frequently, they are focused on this mission and could benefit from assistance to grow the administrative systems, infrastructure, and processes that would ensure organizational sustainability. They are committed to saving land, but in some cases, need support with a vision and a strategy for how to get there.

Project: The financial and organizational stresses created by the COVID-19 crisis put enormous pressure on these organizations and, in many cases, put their future in jeopardy. Several organizations are funded significantly by tourism dollars. They have lodging, offer tours, and receive unrestricted monies from these activities that fund their operational needs. Due to the pandemic, tourism halted and therefore the flow of tourism revenue also ceased. In some areas, organizations experience incursions into protected areas. They saw an increase in hunting, poaching, and illegal logging by people who have lost their income and need to provide for their families.

A group of ten DocuSign employees built upon the work started by their colleagues in 2019 to design and deliver capacity-building workshops to a group of Rainforest Trust’s NGO partners around the world. In 2020, in addition to delivering the workshops to a broader group of NGOs, the team focused on building organizational resilience. The goal was to equip the NGOs with knowledge and tools that will allow them to weather not only the COVID crisis but also future events that could threaten their work.

Delivering these capacity building workshops virtually presented a unique opportunity to benefit the entire network of Rainforest Trust’s conservation NGOs around the world. After the initial workshop presentations, the recordings, content, and training materials were made available to help partner organizations in all of Rainforest Trust’s project areas. This project also gave Rainforest Trust a framework to support its partners throughout the world and mitigate the future effects the COVID pandemic (or other future emergency situations) might have on their operations and fundraising efforts.

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