Commentary V4

The lucrative Greenpeace and WWF eco-business

Greenpeace and WWF, the two largest ecology organizations in Poland, are earning dozens of millions of PLN each year. Jacek Liziniewicz analyzes the sources of both companies’ funding and its distribution.

Almost PLN 40 mln (EUR 9.4 mln) ran through the accounts of both Greenpeace and WWF in 2018. An experienced activist can earn up to PLN 25,000 (EUR 5,500) per month. 

Each association in Poland, including international, must publish their annual financial statement, usually between June and July. 

The richest ecology organization is WWF, as its income exceeded PLN 28 mln, a PLN 100,000 increase compared to the previous year. Only a small amount comes from tax breaks – PLN 1.7 mln, which is 1 percent. The company receives funding from the EU – over PLN 4 mln and donations from private individuals – PLN 21 mln. 

WWF also takes contracts from state institutions, such as the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, which amount to PLN 2 mln. The organization spends over 5 mln on salaries for its employees and the CEO of WWF earns more than the most important officials in Poland. The average salary in WWF exceeds PLN 6,000. 

The source of Greenpeace’s income differs from WWF, because the majority of its funding comes from legal entities (e.g. companies) instead of donations from private persons. WWF only gets PLN 300,000 from companies and Greenpeace, at PLN 11.5 mln income, over PLN 5 mln from companies. 

Greenpeace focuses more in the areas of energy, agriculture and often organizes protests, whereas WWF focuses on PR and information campaigns, slightly affecting society, which could be the reason for this discrepancy.

Greenpeace spends about 40 percent of its income on its employers (close to PLN 4.8 mln) and the maximum salary in the organization amounts to PLN 13,000, but it is hard to tell how much its executive board earns. 

This is because the organization is part of a broader structure across Central Europe with a HQ in Vienna. What’s interesting is that the board, in the past comprised of Germans and Austrians, now has a Polish representative – Robert Cyglicki. 

The maintenance of a five-person board has been added to the category of “the board’s general expenses”. Theoretically, this could contain business travel of members of the board and administration, office expenses, training, service fees, repetitive fees and also, the board’s salaries.

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