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Leadership , Nonprofits – April 21, 2020

Challenges Facing Nonprofits: Hawai‘i Nature Center

Virtual interview: Todd Cullison, Executive Director, Hawaii Nature Center

How has your organization been able to continue its core mission(s)?

Hawaii Nature Center is continuing its mission to foster awareness, appreciation, understanding and stewardship of Hawai‘i’s environment through interactive and immersive child education. We are taking this time to more closely align educational programs with Department of Education standards, develop an on-line curriculum and seek grants for Nature Adventure Camp scholarships.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your donations, fundraising and other cash flow?

Some donors have shifted giving from our program to programs dealing directly with COVID-19. Additionally, some longtime supporters are pulling back their philanthropic giving as they too are experiencing financial uncertainty. Our biggest challenge is the drying up of fee-for-service income from our Nature Adventure Camps and School Programs.

Have you been able to find new ways to support communities in Hawai‘i?

HNC is developing weekly on-line educational videos in an effort to virtually connect keiki to nature. The videos explore the many topics we teach at our Nature Adventure Camps, ranging from forest and stream habitats to native birds and wetland ecology.

What has been your organization’s experience with any level of government during this crisis?

HNC is very fortunate to receive Payroll Protection Program funds. These funds will help bridge our full-time staff until we return to “normal” programming.

How do you think your organization will be different at the end of this year?

Using a lesson from our curriculum, we are experiencing adaption radiation, where species evolves very quickly. We are evolving to be more creative and think about how we can improve, refine, update and ultimately have greater mission impact in the future.

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