Fund-raising and Fear-mongering

According to a recent membership drive by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the end of the world is nigh. What could be driving us to this doleful fate? President Bush’s environmental agenda, says John Adams, the NRDC president. “The Administration is moving quietly but aggressively to roll back 30 years of environmental progress,” says the Adams mailer. “And I urge you to take this attack personally…because it poses an immediate threat to your health and natural heritage.” Blatantly ignoring President Bush’s numerous pro-environmental initiatives, including Clear Skies and Healthy Forests, Adams says the Administration is trying to “cancel” the “environmental rights” of Americans. The President is even exploiting the war on terrorism “as a pretext to destroy our environment.” This is not exactly a positive, feel-good program to encourage new membership. What’s going on here?

FACT: It’s called fundraising, or, better yet, NRDC’s patented fundraising through fear, lies, and distortion. Tucked into the Adams screed of terror is an appeal for greenbacks, which goes to the heart of NRDC’s existence. Adams urges his readers to “take the following steps right away: Help advance this campaign by contributing $10 or more to NRDC. Your gift will enable us to sound the alarm about White House attacks on our environment.” Of course, the Bush “onslaught” can’t be stopped “without your immediate help.” Incidentally, according to the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group, the NRDC was one of six national environmental groups that failed to meet the minimum benchmark for environmental spending–60 percent of annual expenses–because it spent so much on fundraising and overhead.