The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association Raises More Than $75,000 To Save the Charles Darwin Foundation

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR — The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) recently announced that a recent emergency fundraising campaign in support of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) has reached its target of raising $75,000.


IGTOA launched the campaign in December to help the Foundation weather a year-end budget crisis which threatened to close the venerable scientific research and conservation organization forever.

IGTOA and an anonymous donor committed to match every dollar donated to a special fund with an additional donation of two dollars, up to $25,000, until Jan. 31.  The campaign generated $25,573 in donations from individuals and IGTOA’s member companies. IGTOA and the anonymous donor will donate an additional $50,000 to the Foundation as a result of the campaign’s success.

Many of IGTOA’s member companies also actively promoted the campaign to their past guests through email and social media.

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The Charles Darwin Foundation is the oldest, largest and most important scientific research organization in the Galapagos Islands. Since 1959 staff, researchers and visiting scientists have spearheaded some of the most ambitious and successful Galapagos conservation initiatives, including the first captive breeding program for giant tortoises. (Once teetering on the brink of extinction, these iconic reptiles can now be seen in large numbers in the wild throughout the Galapagos archipelago.)  It also helped establish the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the world’s fourth largest, and helped create a biosecurity agency to stop unwanted species from entering the Islands.

According to Foundation officials, the year-end budgetary shortfall was preceded by the soaring cost of running its research station and by the forced closure by municipal authorities in July of the Foundation’s newly expanded and upgraded gift shop.

Swen Lorenz, Executive Director of the Foundations, says, “Our joint fundraising campaign is a new high point of our collaboration with IGTOA. It also shows the potential for involving tour operators and their guests in supporting vital work in the Galapagos Islands. The funds provided by IGTOA members and their guests are making a significant difference in achieving our overall fundraising goal.”

The CDF recently announced that it needed to raise $1m to stay in operation. The fundraising campaign by IGTOA and its members was part of this wider effort.

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s most pristine oceanic archipelagos and home to hundreds of species found nowhere else on Earth. The islands’ unique biodiversity, famously inspiring Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, face a variety of threats, including invasive species, illegal fishing and poaching, and the impacts of population growth and development.

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“It is great to know that so many people around the world support and value the critically important work of the CDF,” says Matt Kareus, Executive Director of IGTOA. “Our member companies are deeply committed to the idea that our industry and has a moral obligation to support science and conservation in the Galapagos Islands. So it was an honor for us to be able to support the CDF during this critical time.”

About the Charles Darwin Foundation — The Charles Darwin Foundation is an international scientific non-profit organization with over 50 years of experience working for the conservation of the Galápagos Islands. Its mission is to provide knowledge and assistance, through scientific research and complementary action, to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in Galapagos.

About the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association — IGTOA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of travel providers dedicated to the complete and lasting protection of the Galapagos Islands. Through its Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, IGTOA raises money to support critical Galapagos conservation initiatives and educates travelers about the challenges facing the islands.

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