When the balance between humanity and nature is altered, it directly and disproportionately affects women, local residents and indigenous communities. According to the UN, 80% of displaced peoples are women. These same people are at the frontlines finding and implementing solutions for their communities but are often overlooked in conservation funding. Only 0.2% of philanthropic funding goes towards women-led environmental initiatives—that’s $2 out of every $10,000 in global grantmaking.
Wild Elements exists to help restore the balance between people, plants, animals, and the whole of the natural world. And in order to do that, we must take a women-centered approach. We launched the Wild Innovators x Wild Advocates program to answer that call – driving resources (over $1M to date to 10 women leaders) and shifting power to women on the frontlines of environmental change. We are also flipping the traditional philanthropy model on its head with 88% of our grants going to women-led organizations and projects, most of which are unrestricted grants. Money alone cannot shift systems – we knew that we also needed to tap into the power of storytelling and social media to engage a broader community in this conversation and connect them to why planet-protecting work happening all over the world impacts each and every one of us.
While much of this planet-protecting work may seem far away from our everyday lives, it's actually deeply interconnected. To help spark empathy and unite audiences around these narratives, we developed a new program—Wild Innovators and Wild Advocates. We paired conservationists, scientists, and environmental activists (“Wild Innovators”) with influencers and culture-shifters (“Wild Advocates”) who could amplify their Innovator’s work to new audiences.
Wild Advocates learned from their Wild Innovator, hearing about their work in real time. They then brought those learnings to their digital communities, educating them on the work through live chats, in-person visits, and digital takeovers.
Through these unique partnerships, we’re bringing our audience on a journey to better understand how the rainwater capture systems used by Grevy’s Zebra Trust in Northern Kenya during droughts is the same method being discussed in the U.S. to help water farms. Our community is also learning directly from women leading the movement to increase access to plant-based and nutrient-dense food, while simultaneously driving dialogue around environmental justice and equity.
Each Wild Innovator was also featured in their own Wild Elements Studios-produced documentary short showcasing their work and impact. Season One of Wild Innovators is available to stream on WaterBear. Season Two (of which each episode is co-directed by a Wild Advocate) will be available to stream September 30th.
In 2021, the Wild Elements Impact Fund donated and directed $1.5 million to the frontlines of conservation and sustainability through 26 organizations and 18 female leaders. The Wild Elements Impact Fund is a sponsored program of the Social Impact Fund. In 2022, an additional $500,000 in grants was distributed to the Wild Innovator cohort.
Across the world—and through our incredible partners and grantees—we have helped protect 92 animal species, including elephants, lions, and Grevy’s zebras. In collaboration with our partners at the Rodale Institute, Women’s Earth Alliance, Proyecto Titi, and Grevy’s Zebra Trust, and through the Wild Elements Impact Fund, we have helped to restore 8,464 acres of farmland, 685 acres of forest, and 1,482 acres of rangelands—a total of 10,631 acres of total natural land. We also helped provide 52,200 people with fresh, nutrient-dense food and saved 792,561 gallons of water.
Through the Wild Advocates, Wild Innovators’ work was shared with over 25 million people worldwide.