With human development rapidly evolving, our relationship with the animal kingdom is constantly changing. The rights of animals are often pushed to the side to focus on the comfort and wealth of human beings, often to the point of extinction. The IFAW seeks to protect those rights.

With no voice of their own, the animals of the world continue to suffer in silence. That’s why the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is fighting to give a voice to those animals in need.

For over 50 years, the IFAW has worked hard to rescue animals, protect populations, preserve habitats, and act as an advocate for animals around the world. Their vision is a world where all animals are protected, respected, and valued by human beings.

The IFAW Mission

dog drinking water

The International Fund for Animal Welfare promises their supports and global decision makers to provide “effective animal protection solutions delivered with intelligence, compassion, and integrity.” This promise helps the organization focus on achieving their goal of protecting animals through various programs and advocacy work around the world.

The History of IFAW

The International Fund for Animal Welfare was founded in 1969 by a group of individuals looking to fight back against Canada’s commercial seal hunt. The group, led by founder Brian Davies, worked together to convince local communities that something needed to change.

three polar bears

Over the next 10 years, the IFAW carried out various programs to help protect the local wildlife. During “Operation Bear-Lift,” the organization was able to successfully relocate 80 polar bears away from towns and villages, where they would be hunted.

They also put pressure on the United States Congress to pass various laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Marine Mammal Protection Act banned the importation of seal products in the US and helped pave the way for the passing of the Endangered Species Act a year later.

Since their start in Canada over 40 years ago, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has become the most effective international organization fighting to save animals in crisis. Today, the organization works in over 40 countries to act as advocates for local wildlife.

Their programs focus on the preservation of habitats, fighting against illegal hunting, rescuing animals from disasters or abuse, and educating the world about the importance of wildlife.

The IFAW Team

group hands as a team

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a large organization, with active offices in 15 different countries. There are over 300 IFAW employees worldwide working on projects in more than 40 different countries. Let’s take a quick look at the team leading the fight at IFAW.


The leadership team is broken down into executive and regional teams.

The executive leadership team oversees the organization as a whole and tackles key issues to ensure the programs run smoothly. This branch of leadership includes positions such as President and CEO, CFO, General Counsel, and Vice Presidents of various departments.

The regional leadership team consists of various Directors and Advisors from around the world. There are Directors for various IFAW locations, including Africa, Asia, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and more.


The International Fund for Animal Welfare employs various animal experts that help provide insight on a wide variety of animal welfare issues. They have experts in different subjects, including animal rescue, conservation, education, political advocacy, and wildlife trade.

Many of the experts at the International Fund for Animal Welfare also have a wide breadth of knowledge about specific animals. There are experts on seals, tigers, whales, wolves, dogs, cats, and more.

Experts are often asked to weigh in during the development of IFAW programs. Many experts also take part in various speaker series to help spread the word on the latest advances in wildlife protection.

Board and honorary board

The Board of Directors is a necessary part of any nonprofit, as they are responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities. Board members are elected officials that meet regularly to examine the affairs of the organization and vote on important decisions.

Members of the IFAW Board of Directors come from around the world, including members from Australia and the UK. There is also an Honorary Board of Directors with famous members such as Pierce Brosnan and Leonardo DiCaprio.

IFAW Programs

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has a variety of different programs aimed to protect animals and educate humans across the globe. Here are some of the main programs the organization has created to help achieve their goals.

Conservation efforts

group of penguins

One of the biggest threats to animals is the desecration of their environment. Many of the world’s natural ecosystems are destroyed or disrupted by humans, often leaving the local wildlife with little to no resources. IFAW seeks to make major changes throughout the world to preserve these natural habitats and the creatures that inhabit them.

IFAW has conservation programs dedicated to various types of ecosystems. They have a program focused on preserving and restoring forests, savannahs, deserts, bodies of water, and more.

Wildlife crime

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has been fighting against the legal and illegal trade of wildlife for several decades. Hunting animals for sport has caused serious and lasting effects on the biodiversity of the world. Many of the most prized hunting targets are animals on the verge of extinction, including elephants and tigers.

To fight against wildlife crime, IFAW works to ensure the animals of the world have the proper protection against black market dealers. Advocates in over 40 countries have worked with their local government to reform their hunting and trade policies for the benefit of animals around the world.

Animal rescue

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has created a global team of animal rescue experts that work diligently to save animal lives. When disaster strikes, the organization can dispatch emergency response teams to aid animals in distress. These teams can take on any disaster, be they fires, floods, storms, oil spills, or widespread animal cruelty.

To ensure the needs of animals are met around the world, IFAW seeks volunteers to establish Emergency Relief Networks in key areas. These networks work together to create a robust local response to help communities prepare and recover from natural or manmade disasters.

Community animal welfare

Humans have a closer relationship with cats and dogs than many other animals, but that doesn’t mean they we always treat them with respect. The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to help facilitate this relationship to ensure that both parties are able to co-exist in peace.

IFAW has several initiatives dedicated to the health and well-being of companion animals. The Adequate Guardianship concept aims to educate caregivers about the basic needs of their pet. The Humane Community Development helps communities that struggle with cats and dogs to learn the right ways to control the situation humanely.

How to Help

people in volunteer dress

There are multiple ways you can get involved with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. With so many threats against animal welfare around the world, IFAW needs all the help they can get.


One of the easiest ways to help the International Fund for Animal Welfare is to give a charitable donation. IFAW accepts donations of any amount directly on their donation website.

Donors have the option of giving a one-time donation, monthly donations, or even donations through payroll deduction. They also have a connection with Amazon Smile, which will donate a portion of your purchases directly to the organization.


If you are unable to make a donation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has various other ways you can give back. IFAW offers volunteer opportunities to help aid in their various programs. Volunteer work can be anything from collecting donations to working out in the field.

If you are looking for a way to volunteer your time, sign up for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Action Alerts. These alerts will help you stay up to date on current animal issues and educate you on what you can do to help animals around the world.

Overall Review

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a strong organization with a very rich history. Charity Navigator, a credible site that rates charities, gave the International Fund for Animal Welfare an overall score of 80.88 with an overall rating of three out of four stars. When broken down, IFAW received a financial score of 73.14 and an accountability & transparency score of 97.00.

Charity Navigator also reports that a total of 74.4 percent of the funds raised go into program expenses, with the rest going into administrative and fundraising expenses.

IFAW’s financial records

All tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and section 527 political organizations are required to file a Form 990 or 990EZ with the IRS.

The IFAW’s most recent IRS Form 990 or 990EZ available is for 2017. We extracted the following financial data from the organization’s most recent publicly available tax return for the fiscal year ending June 2017. This data will provide you with more information on how the IFAW uses donations.

Percentage of donations spent on services

  • Total donations and grants: $21,445,300
  • Spent on services and grants: $16,535,319
  • Percentage of donations toward grants and services: 77.24 Percent

Percentage of revenue spent on fundraising

  • Total revenue: $22,398,294
  • Fundraising expenses: $4,212,448
  • Paid to professional fundraisers: $1,473,145
  • Percentage of total revenue spent on fundraising: 18.80 percent

Administrative and overhead costs

  • Overhead expenses: $2,253,905
  • Property assets: $17,017,797
  • Investment assets: $30,290,738
  • Paid to officers/directors: $1,703,837
  • Highest paid officer/director: CEO $350,275
  • Percentage of total revenue spent on officers/directors salaries: 7.60 percent


The International Fund for Animal Welfare is one of the largest charities dedicated to the protection of animals around the world. For over 50 years, the IFAW has worked hard to improve the health and well-being of all animals through various hands-on and educational programs.

If you’re looking for a way to protect animals, we encourage you to visit the International Fund for Animal Welfare homepage to learn all the ways you can help make a difference.

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