Welcome to the Philanthropy Impact Magazine Issue 11 (Part 2) focusing on the relationship between money and mission and measuring impact sponsored by the Arcus Foundation.
The Arcus Foundation is pleased to be partnering with Philanthropy Impact and to be sponsoring this edition of their magazine. Achieving and measuring impact is an essential element of any philanthropy. Below we have described one example a foundation can achieve significant impact.
On June 12, 2015, the US Fish & Wildlife Service publicly announced that it would reclassify the more than 700 chimpanzees being held in the country’s research labs from ‘threatened’ to ‘endangered.’ This action placed these chimps, long used as the subjects of invasive research, in the same protected category as their brethren living in the wild, increasing their level of protection and effectively retiring them from research. This policy change was the culmination of a seven-year effort by a group of NGOs—including the US Humane Society, Jane Goodall Institute, Animal Protection of New Mexico and New England Anti-Vivisection Society—that had been advocating tirelessly to end the harmful and ineffective practices being imposed on some of humanity’s closest relatives. One of the key supporters of their efforts was the Arcus Foundation, a funder based in the US and the UK, which is working to conserve the planet’s great apes by preserving habitat and ending exploitation.
The Arcus Foundation’s Great Ape program focuses on three strategic goals: 1) achieving conservation of apes in their range states by ensuring habitats are managed sustainably and integrated with economic development; 2) building and sustaining a movement to advance ape conservation and wellbeing; and 3) increasing recognition of and respect for the intrinsic value of apes, especially the right to live free of abuse, exploitation, and private ownership. It is in this third area—respect and value—that the Foundation supported efforts beginning in 2008, to protect the more than 700 chimpanzees held captive in research labs in the United States where they were often housed in deplorable conditions and subject to painful and degrading invasive research.
The US was one of the only countries still using chimpanzees in this manner, breeding them to live only as research subjects, warehousing them in cages (frequently in isolation from other chimps), and using them to test harmful drugs and other experimental treatments. Over time, it was shown that this experimentation was largely ineffective and only in extremely rare cases made any contribution to advances in human medicine. In addition to directly funding advocacy activities, such as the HSUS Chimps Deserve Better Campaign and APN M’s Chimpanzees to Sanctuary Campaign, Arcus supported studies that showed how invasive research practices were causing severe psychological trauma and physical harm to chimps, and how costly this experimentation was for the US government without yielding helpful scientific outcomes. This research provided advocates with new data they could use to argue their case to federal officials and to the public.
While this major policy success demonstrated how Arcus achieved impact in one of its key mission areas, it is only the first step toward the goal of ending exploitation of captive apes in the US. Unfortunately, the reclassification of lab chimps did not help the many still held as pets and trained for use in entertainment. Thus, there is more work to be done on these issues. Plus, now that more than 700 chimps have been retired, they will need to be relocated to sanctuary facilities that must be expanded to accommodate them. Often in philanthropy policy change is only the beginning.