Finding the ways that work.

aka Environmental Defense Fund, EDF   |   New York, NY   |  www.edf.org


Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. Guided by science and economics, we find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems. What distinguishes Environmental Defense Fund is the combination of what we protect and how we protect it. We work to solve the most critical environmental problems facing the planet. This has drawn us to areas that span the biosphere: climate, oceans, ecosystems and health. Since these topics are intertwined, our solutions take a multidisciplinary approach. We work in concert with other organizations — as well as with business, government and communities — and avoid duplicating work already being done effectively by others.

Ruling year info



Mr. Fred Krupp

Main address

257 Park Avenue South 17th Floor

New York, NY 10010 USA

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NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (C05)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

No single entity can do all that is needed to address today’s urgent environmental problems — not the United States, not China, not the global business community, certainly not Environmental Defense Fund. But by working in partnership with many others, we can make a difference. So, for each area of our work — Climate , Oceans, Ecosystems and Health — EDF assessed what needs to be done to meet the world’s most pressing challenges. Then we looked at how EDF is best positioned to help, based on the strengths we bring to the table and the good work others are doing. The result is this strategic plan for 2015-2020. In that time, EDF will concentrate on places and policies where we can make the biggest difference, building on what we’ve done. Our role involves applying the best science and economics — along with smart policies and politics — to harness the power of the marketplace to protect the environment. That’s what we mean by “Finding the ways that work.”

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Climate & Energy

EDF’s vision is to stabilize the climate by dramatically reducing emissions of climate pollutants, to the point where emissions are balanced by actions that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and help people and ecosystems build resilience and adapt to the warming that does occur.

By focusing on the largest and best opportunities first, we can help reverse the rise of emissions soonest. To achieve deeper and lasting reductions, EDF is working in targeted countries and sectors to help design markets and policies that align national priorities with carbon reduction, turning the engines of prosperity toward a stable climate.

Population(s) Served

EDF's resilient land and water systems allow nature and a growing human population to prosper in a changing climate. We envision prosperity to include health, economic and social well-being, clean water and air, fertile soil and enjoyment of nature in all of its richness and diversity.

Our theory of change is that creating economic benefits and cultural expectations for practices that improve ecosystems will cause the adoption of those practices to increase.

Population(s) Served

The vision of the Oceans Program is that in our lifetimes, EDF seeks to create thriving, resilient oceans that provide more fish in the water, more food on the plate, and more prosperous fishing communities, even with climate change.

We aim to spur reforms so that sustainable fishing becomes the norm in 12 places that account for 61% of the global catch. Success at this scale could transform the global seafood system so that sustainable fishing takes hold worldwide.

Population(s) Served

Our vision is that human health improves by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and pollution.

By harnessing protections forged in law, and made possible by advances in information and technology, we can strengthen policies, expand civic engagement and advance supply chain practices that lead to reductions in exposures to harmful chemicals and air pollution.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of first-time donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This metric includes the number of people who donated to EDF for the first time.

Number of overall donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This metric includes all of EDF's donors.

Cost to raise $100

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This metric reflects how much it cost EDF to bring in each $100 of donations.

Percent of total budget spent on programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This metric reflects the percent of total expenses EDF spent on its programs each year.

Average number of dollars given by new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This metric reflect the average amount given by first-time donors.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The air most of us breathe is cleaner than it has been in decades. Magnificent, once-endangered birds like the osprey are thriving. EDF is proud to have played a central role in achieving these hard-won goals. But there is still so much to be done. More than 125 million Americans live in places with unhealthy air. Thousands of U.S. communities are plagued by lead poisoning. And the environmental gains of the recent past are at risk as the Trump administration does all it can to roll back climate action and dismantle the bipartisan protections that helped deliver that progress.

In our strategic plan, we look ahead to 2025. Working together, we can move to stabilize the global climate, build defenses against extreme weather, ensure food security and abundant oceans, and reduce exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals. Our work is grounded in the rigor of the scientific method and the insights of economics, and it is also infused with hope. We know that our solutions, if scaled in time, can help turn the corner to a safer climate, cleaner air and healthier communities. Our commitment to measurable outcomes can be seen in our work to build resilience in the face of climate change. It's not a glib assurance that people and nature can magically adapt, but a realistic assessment of how we can help communities and ecosystems survive and even thrive.
The well-being of people and nature rests upon a web of interconnections among EDF's four focus areas: Climate, Oceans, Ecosystems and Health. Well-managed ocean fisheries, for example, are better able to withstand the
stress of climate change—and the futures of people everywhere depend on healthy oceans. In turn, the climate will benefit from our Health program's work to reduce conventional air pollution, as well as from our Ecosystems work to reduce overuse of fertilizer, which means less of the powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, entering the atmosphere. And building natural infrastructure—wetlands, barrier islands, oyster reefs— helps make coastal communities more secure.

In the coming years, EDF will concentrate on strategies that drive progress despite the current roadblocks in Washington, DC. Our 11-year partnership with Walmart helped inspire the world's largest retailer to commit to reducing one billion tons of carbon pollution from its operations and global supply chain by 2030—an amount greater than the annual emissions of Germany. And during more than 20 years of work in China, we have trained 39,000 environmental enforcement officers, championed tougher laws and offered assistance to the government as it rolled out seven pilot emissions trading programs to address carbon pollution.
These pilots gave China the confidence to begin phasing in a national emissions trading system for carbon in 2017. We'll work closely with the Chinese to ensure the success of this critical piece of global climate leadership. Similarly, EDF's work to rebuild fisheries is having a profound global impact. In the United States, fish populations are rebounding and fishermen are better off. We have supported similar progress in Mexico, Belize, Sweden and the Philippines. Now we're scaling this work with a goal of reducing global overfishing 30% by 2025, in order to boost fish in the sea 50% by 2030 and improve the well-being of 400 million vulnerable people worldwide. EDF is known for building unexpected partnerships. Many elected officials and other decision makers had never seen such inclusive environmental coalition-building until we walked through their doors alongside fishermen, ranchers, corporate leaders and other unlikely allies. It makes for powerful first impressions—and durable solutions. Tens of thousands of consumer products are now safer because we partnered with Walmart and other retailers to remove chemicals of concern from them. We also supported a bipartisan coalition that passed landmark U.S. chemical safety legislation in 2016; now we're fighting for effective implementation of those critical reforms.
On all of our issues, we apply the tools of science and economics, political acumen and technological innovation harnessing the power of markets to drive environmental good. We call it finding the ways that work. It's the model you'll see throughout Pathways 2025 (www.edf.org/pathways-2025) , and together with your support, it's what gives us hope that we can build a resilient future where people and nature prosper.

Just as communities depend on their roads, bridges and public utilities, EDF depends on its infrastructure of information technology, facilities, financial and legal expertise and—most of all—people to maximize our donor resources and achieve our environmental goals.
Today's difficult environmental challenges—and the increasingly global program goals of this ambitious new strategic plan—underscore the need to strengthen EDF to perform on a new scale that reaches around the world.
Human resources: Our strength as an organization depends on a highly skilled staff, Board and network of partners. We aim to recruit and train an international workforce comprised of top-flight talent, and build a robust pipeline of leaders and experts to carry our mission forward. When our work takes us into new geographies, we will rely on strong local leadership, forge partnerships with effective local stakeholder organizations, and ensure that our internal managerial capacity keeps pace with our growth.
Diversity: EDF envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and are engaged in creating durable, equitable solutions. We will realize this vision by continually increasing the diversity of our staff; growing our cultural competency; and partnering with diverse communities on environmental
justice activities. We are among the first green groups to have a senior position on diversity; 63% of our workforce are women, 26% self-identify as people of color, and 25% of senior leadership self-identify as people of color.
Legal and corporate services: As EDF's global presence expands, we will ensure that our infrastructure is working as effectively and efficiently as possible; that we are adhering to local and national laws in diverse geographies; and that we have proactive plans to keep staff and their assets safe and protected everywhere they work or travel. Information technology and facilities Powering a complex global organization requires top-notch systems, including a best-in-class information technology infrastructure that integrates data and users across the globe, while safeguarding their privacy and security. When it comes to facilities, our goal is to find the most innovative and cost-effective solutions while alsoreducing our environmental footprint, as in a recent reconfiguration of our New York headquarters that accommodates 20% more staff comfortably in the same space, with a more efficient design for lighting and heating to save energy and costs.
Finance: Our finance team acts as a trusted adviser and business partner to organizational leaders, identifying opportunities for better allocating scarce resources, improving processes and reducing business risk. We are also examining all of our expenditures to ensure that we are maximizing cost savings and leveraging EDF's buying power.

Two years into our five-year plan, it's exciting to see the momentum on our 2020 objectives. We could not have come this far without the strong support of EDF members.

The Growing Partnership between the United States and China to Confront Climate Change. The leadership commitments that President Obama and President Xi made when they reaffirmed aggressive carbon reduction targets in September 2015 sparked the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Climate Accord last December in Paris.

One year later, both countries formally joined the accord in a meeting with UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon. At the same meeting, the U.S. and China also reaffirmed their commitment to work with the UN Aviation Agency to ensure carbon-neutral growth by 2020 for the aviation industry—the eighth largest contributor to global carbon pollution. Further, both countries reiterated their commitment under the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), a potent climate pollutant.

Continuing to drive down emissions from the world's two largest carbon polluters is a top tier priority for us next year. We'll work with both countries to drive down emissions and promote clean energy innovation.

International Expansion: Experiences from Namibia to Chile and the U.S. demonstrate that with good management, fisheries near collapse can rebound, bringing more fish, more food and more prosperity to fishing communities. Early research led by EDF and our partners shows that sustainable fishing could help 79% of ocean fisheries worldwide become healthy within 10 years—and change the story of global ocean doom to hope. EDF is working to spread these fishing solutions to key countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Endangered Wildlife: EDF has developed an innovative idea to bring wildlife conservation into the 21st century. Called habitat exchanges, the program gives private landowners, industry and conservationists the incentive to work together, so that both wildlife and local economies can prosper. Ranchers and farmers are rewarded for improving habitat on their working lands and playing host to wildlife threatened by development. So far, habitat exchanges have helped the New England cottontail rabbit recover from the brink of extinction. They will soon help the greater sage-grouse and the monarch butterfly while also boosting local economies.

Food Safety: Only about half of the 10,000 plus additives allowed in food have been tested for safety. EDF has launched an initiative to spur leading grocers and food manufacturers to move hazardous chemicals out of food and promote the use of safer chemicals in their products.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Mark Heising

Managing Director, Medley Partners

Term: 2020 -

Carl Ferenbach

High Meadows Foundation

Arthur Cooley

Naturalist; Former Expedition Leader, Lindblad Expeditions

G. Leonard Baker, Jr.

Managing Director, Sutter Hill Ventures

Sally Bingham, M.Div.

President, The Regeneration Project

Ann Doerr

Chairman, Khan Academy

Stanley Druckenmiller


Kirsten J. Feldman

Retired Managing Director, Morgan Stanley; Chair, Steep Rock Association

Charles J. Hamilton, Jr

Senior Counsel, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP

The Honorable Thomas H. Kean

Chairman, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Frank Loy

Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Susan Mandel

Zoom Foundation

Stephen W. Pacala, Ph.D.

Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Julian H. Robertson, Jr.

Founder and Chairman, Tiger Management, LLC

Peggy M. Shepard

Co-Founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice

Charles F. Wurster, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, Marine Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Ruth DeFries, Ph.D.

Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University

Shelby Bonnie

Co-founder, CNET Networks

Chris Cole

Former Chairman, Investment Banking, Goldman Sachs

Christopher Costello

Professor of Natural Resources Economics, Bren School UCSB; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research

Susan Ford Dorsey

President, Sand Hill Foundation

Mark W. Heising

Managing Director, Medley Partners

Richard J. Lazarus

Howard J. and Katherine W. Aibel Professor of Law, Harvard University

Abby Leigh


Katherine Lorenz

President, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation

Kathryn Murdoch

President, Quadrivium Foundation

Lise Strickler

Environmental Advocate

Lynn Goldman

Pediatrician; Dean, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services

David Vogel

CEO & Chief Scientist, Voloridge Investment Management

Secretary Ray Mabus

Former Secretary of the Navy

Georges Benjamin, MD

Executive Director, American Public Health Association

Susan Oberndorf

President, Susan and William Oberndorf Foundation

Leslie Dach

Strategic Consultant

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/6/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/06/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.