How to Get More Conservation Done Now: Joining Forces to Save Nature

Change fuels the world. So how can we be more effective in leveraging it? It's an important question for nearly everyone -- including conservation. Protecting nature can't just keep pace with change; we are always looking for ways to get more done, faster, and at even greater scale.

That's why I was excited to announce this week that The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Rare -- a long-time partner organization that inspires change so people and nature can thrive -- will merge.

The reactions to this merger from the leaders I've been meeting with this week at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York -- and from our staff and supporters across the globe -- have been very positive and encouraging.

One big question I've been hearing, though, is "Why?" Both of our organizations are already doing great things. It will be hard work to ensure a smooth alignment. Both our teams have successfully collaborated for many years. Why take this on?

In my view, the answer is very simple. Together we can get more done for conservation.

For example, joining forces will allow us to scale up Rare's ground-breaking Pride campaigns, which inspire community support for conservation. The campaigns have been tremendously successful in generating enthusiasm for conservation solutions -- and empowering local communities to make those solutions their own. And Rare's work with partners to restore near-shore fisheries in the developing tropics is a natural fit with TNC's priority to protect and restore the world's oceans.

In short, Rare is a proven champion of changing hearts and minds to get conservation done. TNC's breadth and scale will give Rare access to more hearts and more minds to change. Together, we can change the way more people in more places think about the benefits of nature that people depend on to thrive.

The merger also offers great opportunities for both organizations to learn from each other. Both of our cultures are centered on innovation, agility, entrepreneurship and measurable results. Yet a large organization like TNC can no doubt learn a thing or two from a small, nimble and entrepreneurial organization like Rare. That's why we will align Rare in a way that ensures its independence and identity are retained. At the same time, Rare will benefit from TNC's science, expertise and relationships with key government and private sector leaders that we have built over our 62-year history.

Finally, I hope that our joining forces with Rare will inspire other organizations to consider similar efforts. In the nonprofit space, we should always be asking ourselves how we can better collaborate with others in pursuit of our mission. To that end, it was also exciting to announce Science for Nature and People (SNAP), TNC's new joint venture with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). While the initiative is by no means a merger, it is a very ambitious joint undertaking to ensure that the conservation work we do for people and nature has the greatest possible impact.

Joint efforts like these are not always easy, and there are sure to be bumps in the road. But in more cases than not I believe they will be well worth the effort. At the end of the day, our decision to merge boiled down to one simple question: will conservation come out ahead? While the jury is still out, I am confident that the answer will be a resounding yes.

Join Mark for a discussion about collaboration in the nonprofit space--and other conservation topics--in a live online Q&A on Wednesday, October 2 from 1-2 p.m. EDT. He'll be joined by moderator Juliet Eilperin, White House correspondent for the Washington Post. You can email questions in advance to or via Twitter at #AskMarkT.