Our finances

Your donations support our program work

Environmental Defense Fund's lasting commitment to preserve natural systems requires financial strength and the stewardship to stay the course.

EDF continued to grow during fiscal 2020, despite the impacts of COVID-19, as total operating expenses reached a record $216 million, a 7% increase over fiscal 2019. Limits on hiring from April through November 2020, reductions in travel and rent and flexibility in the use of operating reserves, and the continued relevance and urgency of our mission have helped ensure EDF’s financial stability through a period of economic uncertainty globally.

Total operating expenses

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, support and revenue totaled $221 million in fiscal 2020 for use in fiscal 2020 and future years, reflecting significant fundraising strength. Contributions and membership increased 15% and provided more than two-thirds of total support and revenue.


Year-to-year swings in total support and revenue, and changes in net assets, reflect the timing of large gifts designated for use over multiple years. (Nonprofit accounting principles require us to record income in the year funds are raised, not in the years designated for use.)

Multiyear gifts from donors are a particularly helpful tool for strengthening longer-term program development, equipping EDF to address large, ongoing challenges such as climate change. To ensure financial stability and to provide increased funding for high-impact programs, we monitor fundraising and adjust spending to maintain a balanced annual budget.

Program activities accounted for 80 percent of total operating expenses in fiscal 2020.


EDF has managed well, thus far, through the myriad impacts of COVID-19. Over the course of fiscal 2020, leadership and in partnership with Trustees, made a few key adjustments to ensure stability, such as:

  • Implemented prudent cost actions.
  • Refreshed EDF’s investment policy statement through a deep review with Trustees, and
  • Enabled greater flexibility and access to Trustees, should financial matters warrant.

The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and EDF leadership remain vigilant, yet optimistic.

The generous resources provided by our donors enable us to deliver strong results for the environment and human health. We thank you for your investment in this vital work and welcome the critical role you play as our partners in this mission.