Richard Rosen on conservation as an investment in the future

Night photo of stars above the prow of a canoe
Richard Rosen headshot

Richard Rosen has supported WWF since the early 1980s. He spent more than two decades at the multinational 3M corporation and now serves on the board of his family’s business, RDI. Born and raised in Minnesota, Richard and his wife, Anna Marie Pavlik, lived in Texas for 25 years before moving to Kentucky, where they support local and global causes. He is a member of WWF’s National Council and its Legacy Circle, a group of people who have included WWF in their estate plans.

Is there a special place or experience that helped spur your passion for conservation?

Decades ago, before we were married, Anna Marie took me to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Minnesota-Ontario border. She loves the place and wanted to share it with me. We went canoeing at night. The water was so calm. I looked up and saw a sky full of stars, and when I looked down I saw them there too, reflected in the water’s surface. That moment stuck with me; it helped me to realize how beautiful and pristine nature was before we started harming the planet.

How does your background in business impact your philanthropy?

If you’re an investor and you’re buying stocks or bonds, you look for what’s going to give you the best return on investment. I approach charitable giving the same way. There are so many environmental conservation organizations to choose from, and I consider which organization is going to give me the best return. With its global reach and decades of impact, WWF is a smart investment in the future of the planet.

Why is making unrestricted gifts to WWF important to you?

WWF is well run, and I trust the decisions made by the organization and its leadership, which is why the bulk of my giving is unrestricted, meaning WWF gets to decide how to use my donations to further their mission. I do restrict some of my support to specific projects that are close to my heart, including efforts to protect and connect jaguar corridors in Central and South America. But WWF is extremely thoughtful about how they put my donations to use, and unrestricted support allows them to triage and focus their efforts where they will make the most positive impact—and I think that flexibility is critical to conservation success.

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