Churchill Projects 2014-2016
Created in 2011 our foundation People for Polarbears could have started to support the first projects on the ground as early as in 2014 thanks to our well-organized fundraising concept, which were good news as we only would have had to use our donations by 2015 according to the ruling charity law. To get to the point: for sure it is quite challenging to fundraise nationwide but it’s even more challenging to do so in an international context.
Our managing board as well as the board of trustees started the selecting procedure at a very early stage. We quickly decided unanimously to support a concrete project in the natural environment of the polar bears.
Thus, our chairmen Volker Henrich and Andreas Gräf organized a private trip to Churchill/ Manitoba/ Canada in 2012. Churchill has a worldwide reputation as the capitol of polar bears. Talking to persons in charge at the Science Center as well as the Wapusk National Park led effectively to identifying the first project on the ground.
Cooperating closely with the semi-governmental Northern Studies Center partly supported by the state as well as the management of the Wapusk National Park and a project led by Carrie Hunt we had several interesting projects to choose from. All three of them were perfectly aligning with the mission of our foundation. Our managing board asked the Northern Science Center to locally call for proposals which were focusing on the preservation of polar bears. The projects under closer consideration were as follows:
- the Wapusk National Park which is globally known for its important quantity of caves used by polar bears where cubs are given birth (this park is as huge as the Federal States of Germany Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria altogether). This project needed equipment for the cubs.
- As Arctic sea ice thins and retreats due to constant global warming, increasing numbers of polar bears are spending longer periods in the summer open-water season resting along Arctic coastlines bringing them into greater conflict with Arctic people. In order to minimize such dangerous polar bear-human encounters, Carrie Hunt has initiated a project that seemed to be very convincing to us, as she tries to redirect polar bears to their natural surroundings by using dogs that are raised for this purpose. She is using the same approach that also has successfully been applied to grizzly bears before (www.beardogs.org).
- Besides, we were in close touch with the semi-governmental Science Center in Churchill which was supposed to search for further projects on behalf of our foundation. The Science Center was asked to provide transparent proof of the use of the endowments offered by the foundation People for PolarBears.
Our detailed descriptions above are proof of our extensive efforts on the ground followed by numerous phone calls afterwards. All partners and organizations involved seemed to be cooperative and qualified for our mission, but at the end unfortunately they all failed to fulfill our requirements. Just to name a few points: the proof of payment and a transparent documentation on investments were simply not ensured. Furthermore, deadlines were not met or just simply ignored.
As a result, we had to decline all projects though they seemed to be so promising in the beginning. Above all we wanted to stick to our guiding principles not to spend any endowment fonds thoughtlessly. For this reason and on behalf of our donators we are looking for new reliable partners.
It is an unusual and difficult situation for the persons in charge at the foundation. But above all, it’s important for us that our sponsors, supporters, godparents who are mainly based in Germany can rely on the transparency of our policies. It is of utmost importance to us to handle project funds in a secure and transparent manner. We have been describing our procedure in a very detailed manner as a proof of our transparent policy and strategy. Hopefully it might be a helpful advice for the institutes mentioned before to reconsider their approach with international partners. Principally our doors remain open for anyone wishing to cooperate with us in a trustful manner.
As a result, we had to restart our call for proposals. For now, we concentrate on projects in the natural surroundings of polar bears. We are in contact with partners in Greenland, Spitsbergen, Alaska, and Russia.
The final message at the end of the day is clear: Under these circumstances it was important to us NOT TO SPEND any funds. This step was inevitable. Not only on behalf of the polar bears and the preservation of their natural surroundings but also to remain faithful to our own principles and to reassure our donators. We are very grateful for your trust in our foundation.
Frankfurt am Main, July 2016
Foundation of PEOPLE FOR POLARBEARS