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A school is hosting a Walk-a-Thon called Run for Rhinos in co-operation with WWF Indonesia to raise money for the extremely endangered Javan Rhino. There was a WWF booth set up.
I myself was approached by a runner prior to the event to sponsor him. I took a look at the pledge sheet and understood that I would be sponsoring an amount per lap, for a maximum amount. In this case, I agreed to sponsor him Rp5000 per lap for a maximum of ten (in the case of him running 100, I would have to singularly sponsor him a whopping Rp.500000, which isn't ideal, as I want to sponsor others as well), and so the maximum amount he could earn/raise from me is Rp50000.
So far so good, right?
Imagine my surprise when the runner approached me a few days later (still prior to the event) and asked for the Rp50000. He explained to me that the school's policy was that the maximum amount be collected and submitted before the event itself. This made no sense and immediately raised flags for me. If I gave the money upfront, you would not have to run any laps and you would have already earned the maximum amount. You would not have honored our agreement of "on a per lap basis" and the school would already have raised the money regardless of whether or not you ran the agreed number of laps (on the bottom of the pledge sheet, I found a disclaimer stating: In the event of a runner not being able to complete the targeted number of laps, there will be no refunds).
What that disclaimer is implicating is that they understand that a runner may not have EARNED the maximum amount!
So if this runner only manages to run five laps, he did not earn/raise Rp50000 from me. He only earns Rp25000, which I would be glad to pay up. But the way it is set up, the school receives Rp.50000 regardless of the number of laps he runs.
In fact, I also learned that the management would not credit the runner with EXTRA laps unless the laps were re-sponsored and the extra money re-submitted.
As a sponsor I feel a little cheated. I understand the funds go to WWF and the Javan Rhino but it does not mean the funds can be raised on technicalities played on the sponsors. I talked to other sponsors and a good number of them agree. Most, however, didn't care to change anything.
So on the day itself, I looked for an English-speaking WWF official (my Bahasa Indonesia is somewhat lacking) and I found one. I did not have the good sense to ask him his name or if he was the leading official, but his English was more competent than most. It is my belief that he understood completely, yet unfortunately the look on his face suggested only "this is the way things are done around here" and he would take no action (and take the money). So it is completely deniable by the WWF or anyone that "a WWF official was told on the day itself", but that really isn't the point. The point is he did understand.
I hear that there are other schools running charity walks such as this in a similar manner, and then donating a portion of the proceeds to organizations like WWF. While it's the schools that are liable, the question is should the WWF be knowingly accepting funds raised in such a way? In my particular case they have.
It is raised wrong because then the event is not "Run for Rhinos", but "Promise to Run for Rhinos", where huge funds can be raised by a huge pledge and no actual running. I was present in the event and, while most did, I know a good number of runners were not able to complete their pledged laps and suffered no consequence in terms of funds raised (or under any terms, for that matter).

This was WWF Indonesia, with a school in South Jakarta; Run for Rhinos was held on Saturday, 14 April 2012.
It is a sincere hope that the involvement of WWF Indonesia with such schools be investigated.
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  • Hi John,
    I hear how frustrated you are, and can understand your disappointment in how this particular event was organised. It is a difficult choice to complain about such things when you know it is for a good cause, and the actual "running" is really only a way of making the children feel they too have contributed and worked hard to help the problem, so I acknowledge the effort it has taken to bring the matter up with us.

    As this sort of event would have been organised at the national level by the WWF-Indonesia office I do not have access to any particular details on disclaimers they may include in their fund-raising efforts, and therefore am unable to comment fully on this at present. I will pass this on to staff here at WWF-International to see if we can shine any further light on the situation. However, in the meantime, I would encourage you to go ahead and contact WWF-Indonesia directly with your concerns, because they will be able to give you more specific information on their policies and need to be given an opportunity to explain their actions.

    You will find their contact details from the following link, and you may find that a phone call is necessary to get through to someone in charge.

    If you would like to email us directly, please write to us again using the following “Feedback” link and select “Post it Privately” under the Continue button. This will enable us to write back to you directly with more detailed information becomes available.

    Hope this helps, and thank you for your honorable intentions and generous support!
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