Nonprofit Spotlight: Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp

Fred Krupp has been the President of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) for more than 30 years. EDF is a nonprofit organization whose focus is to address the world’s most urgent environmental issues through scientific research, economic research and partnerships, and nonpartisan policymaking. Over the course of Krupp’s presidency, the organization has grown from 40,000 members to over two million members, from a staff of 50 to over 700, and from an annual budget of $3 million to $180 million. EDF is now one of the world’s most influential environmental organizations.1 

After graduating from Yale University and receiving a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, Krupp began his career as an intern at EDF and the Natural Resources Defense Council.2 While practicing law, Krupp founded the Connecticut Fund for the Environment in 1978, an organization whose focus was to enforce clean water laws and protect local forests and wetlands.3 Krupp then joined EDF as the executive director in 1984.4

Under Krupp’s leadership, EDF changed its focus from litigation to economic incentives to tackle environmental challenges. Krupp was a pioneer of this market-based approach to environmentalism, which he calls the “third wave of environmentalism.” Krupp believes that by using market-oriented incentives, we can achieve greater environmental and economic benefits at a lower social and economic cost than traditional approaches. Krupp’s ideas have proved highly effective, for example, Krupp and EDF convinced the administration of President George H. W. Bush to pass a sulfur dioxide cap and trade law which seriously cut emissions while allowing innovative new technologies to emerge. EDF was also highly influential in drafting the United States’ proposal for the 1997 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (also known as the Kyoto Protocol).5 

EDF was also a pioneer of corporate partnerships in the 1990s and has now partnered with major global companies such as Walmart, McDonald’s, and FedEx. While this may seem unconventional and even contradictory for an environmental organization, EDF has seen huge success in this approach. For example, EDF has helped Walmart to eliminate more than 36 million metric tons of emissions from its supply chain. Alongside major corporations, EDF also partners with community groups, academic institutions, farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. By working with these different partners, EDF is able to pursue aggressive goals on both specific and widespread issues and apply science, economics, and technological innovation to find solutions.6 

Simply Virtuous chose to support EDF due to its innovative approach to solving environmental issues. EDF’s partnerships with corporations work so well because corporations are both major players in environmental degradation as well as creating policy and social change. Furthermore, Simply Virtuous reports that EDF’s annual revenue is $223 million, and of this revenue 84% is spent on programs and less than 1% is spent on CEO compensation. EDF is a highly influential, innovative, and effective environmental organization that has flourished under the leadership of Fred Krupp. If you would like to donate to EDF and learn even more about the organization, follow this link.

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