GOLD2023

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Helping People. Saving Gorillas.

Atlanta, GA   |  https://gorillafund.org

Mission

Established in 1967 by famed primatologist Dian Fossey, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund works to protect and study wild gorillas and their habitats, and to empower people who live nearby. The Fossey Fund is the world’s longest-running and largest organization dedicated to gorilla conservation. The Fossey Fund’s people-centered approach to conservation is focused on four pillars: daily protection of individual gorillas and their families; conducting critical science needed to develop conservation strategies; training future leaders to address conservation challenges; and helping communities living near gorillas through education, livelihood, and food and water security initiatives.

Ruling year info

1978

President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Tara Stoinski

Main address

800 Cherokee Ave SE

Atlanta, GA 30315 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

The Digit Fund

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

EIN

52-1118866

NTEE code info

Protection of Endangered Species (D31)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

For more than 50 years, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has worked to protect and study wild gorillas and their habitats and to empower people who share the gorillas’ forest home. With a team of more than 200 working in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Fossey Fund is the world’s longest running and largest organization dedicated entirely to gorilla conservation. Our people-centered approach to conservation is focused on four pillars: daily protection of individual gorillas and their families; conducting critical science needed to develop conservation strategies; training future leaders to address the conservation challenges of the future; and helping communities living near gorillas through livelihood, food security and education initiatives.

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?

Karisoke Research Center/Ellen DeGeneres Campus

The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, fka Karisoke Research Center (KRC) has played a key role in one of the world’s most successful conservation efforts since 1967. Its mission is to inspire and educate the next generation of conservationists so they can tackle the conservation challenges of the future and ensure the survival of gorillas and their biodiverse forest home. The multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park includes laboratories, a computer lab and library, flexible office and meeting space, classrooms, an interactive educational exhibit and on-site residences for visiting students and scientists. Built with locally-sourced materials and supplies, our campus embodies the Fossey Fund’s mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment, via rainwater harvesting, green roofs, the planting of over 250,000 native plant species, a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People of African descent
Children and youth

The Fossey Fund began working in DRC in 2001 to expand protections for critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas. Because most Grauer’s gorillas live outside of national parks, they lack formal protection, and their population has declined by an estimated 80% over the past 25 years.

We worked with area landowners to develop community-managed forest concessions, collectively called the Nkuba Conservation Area, giving local communities ownership and management rights over their own forests. The 1,500 sq km NCA is home to an estimated 200 Grauer’s gorillas.

In 2021, the government of the DRC officially recognized these CFCLs and we entered into a 25-year agreement to help landowners develop and implement sustainable plans for these forests.

We provide critical employment in Nkuba, with 70 local staff members protecting gorillas, studying biodiversity and supporting education, livelihood and food security initiatives that improve the lives of community members near the gorilla habitat.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People of African descent

Human communities near Volcanoes National Park often rely on the forest for sustenance. As part of our “Helping Communities” strategic pillar, we work with these communities to develop livelihood, education and food and water security programs, enabling people to feed their families without going into the park in search of food, water or firewood.

We also work with local schools to develop Nature Clubs and other conservation programs. Students learn about their own critical, biodiverse backyard and begin to understand the importance of conservation. Nature Club members have developed programs to benefit their schools and communities, building plant nurseries, distributing thousands of fruit trees, and developing livestock programs that provide sources of milk and eggs, along with income from the fertilizer produced by the livestock.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
People of African descent

Africans are highly underrepresented in studies of their own biodiversity — by some analyses, only about 2% of published studies on African wildlife are led by Africans. Training future conservationists is one of our four main pillars and aims to address this inequity.

We collaborate with the University of Rwanda and other local institutions to bring hundreds of students to Karisoke to complete field courses and research projects. Our support of students doing their senior thesis work provides the opportunity for intensive mentorship from the Fossey Fund and our partner institutions with the eventual goal of publishing their work. We offer post-graduate internship opportunities for local students — more than 90% go on to careers in conservation and science within Rwanda.

And we support our Rwandan research staff who pursue advanced degrees in science, along with support to all field staff who wish to pursue college degrees.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People of African descent
Adults
People of African descent

Where we work

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 Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is dedicated to the conservation, protection and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Our successful, integrated approach includes four strategic pillars:
1) Daily Protection: To ensure that gorilla populations remain stable, we have boots on the ground in the forest 365 days a year, monitoring gorillas, destroying snares, and protecting the gorillas’ habitat from human encroachment.
2) Scientific Research: We’re the world's longest running gorilla research site, and we add to our 50+year dataset on gorillas every day as our scientists study not only gorillas but the other plants and animals that live in their biodiverse forest home.
3) Training Future Leaders: We train hundreds of local university students each year, and we help young scientists and staff members to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees and to further their professional and technical development in the field, thereby ensuring the success of the next generation of African scientists and conservationists.
4) Helping Communities: Conservation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and without the support of local communities, we cannot protect gorillas or their habitat. We work closely with the people who share the gorillas' forest home to address food and water security, education and other critical needs.

Our strategies involve:

I. Using gorillas as our flagship, implement effective, enduring, people-centered conservation strategies
II. Leading science-based conservation through robust, diversified research and training programs
III. Creating the leadership and systems to support transformational growth within the organization
IV. Growing our fundraising to meet the conservation needs of the future with goal of 25% revenue growth by 2025
V. Building communication capacities to maximize our brand, relationships, and revenue

Our organization has more than 50 years of experience in gorilla conservation. During that time the gorilla population has grown — in fact in 2017, mountain gorillas were moved from “critically endangered” to “endangered” thanks to sustained efforts by us and others on the ground in Rwanda. We’ve also expanded into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where we use the knowledge we’ve gained over the past five decades to protect the critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas. Our people-centered approach to conservation is time tested and has been proven to both protect gorillas and effectively engage local communities.

In 2021 the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo officially recognized three new community-managed forest concessions (CFCLs), collectively called the Nkuba Conservation Area, that we have been working to develop since 2011. These CFCLs give local communities ownership and management rights over their own forests. Since then we’ve expanded the area we protect in these forests to 1,583 square kilometers, which house an estimated 200 critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas.

In 2022 we will open our new permanent headquarters: The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, a multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park, will include laboratories, a computer lab and library, flexible office and meeting space, classrooms, an interactive educational exhibit and on-site residences for visiting students and scientists. The Campus will embody our mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment, through rainwater harvesting, green roofs, the planting of over 250,000 native plant species and a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity.

In 2017 we started World Gorilla Day to celebrate and promote conservation of wild gorillas. Since then:
- We’ve removed 4,881 snares from the rainforests of Rwanda and the DRC, and none of the gorillas in the groups we monitor have been injured or killed by a snare.
- The population of mountain gorillas we help protect in Rwanda grew by 8%.
- We’ve helped to train more than 1,000 university students in Rwanda and the DRC. These students are employed throughout the region as educators, scientists and leaders, helping to shape the future of conservation in their countries.
- We’ve increased our teams in Rwanda and DR Congo by 42%. Our decades of work have proven that this boots-on-the-ground effort is critical for conservation success.
- We helped tens of thousands of people through projects aimed at addressing livelihood and food security and education. Examples include bamboo and mushroom cultivation, kitchen gardens, small animal husbandry, primary and secondary school nature clubs, conservation debates, conservation camps and teacher trainings.
- We’ve collaborated with scientists from around the world to publish more than 60 scientific papers on conservation issues for gorillas and larger biodiversity issues.
- The ultimate metric of conservation success is improved outcomes for wildlife. So perhaps the most exciting collective accomplishment is that after decades of collective effort, mountain gorillas were reclassified from critically endangered to endangered on IUCN’s list of endangered species, moving them one step further from extinction. They remain one of the world’s few conservation success stories thanks to the collaborative work of governments, conservation NGOs and local communities.

Financials

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
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Operations

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

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Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Board of directors
as of 09/07/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Kristen Lukas

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Term: 2022 - 2024

William L. Evans

Dallas Zoo Management, Inc.

Diane Brierley

Kristen Lukas

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Mark Penning

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S.

David Singer

Daniel Sullivan

Qualcomm Incorporated

Lee Ehmke

Houston Zoo

Greggory Hudson

Dallas Zoo and the Aquarium at Fair Park

Alexis Stein

Mariel Aguirre

Conservationist

Philip V Petersen

Brookfield Communities

Debbie Goellnitz

Dennis O'Malley

Dennis Pate

Omaha Zoo

Dante Pride

Michael Turton

KilpatrickTownsend

Sophie Bryan

Susan McLellan

Hayley Murphy

Detroit Zoo

Jhanvi Shiram

Allyson Park

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? Yes
  • 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 10/6/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Decline to state
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data