Conservation Influencers

Paul G Allen Family Foundation/Vulcan Inc


Vulcan Inc was founded in 1986 and the Paul G Allen Family Foundation in 1989. The former is a privately owned company, which manages the philanthropist’s and Microsoft co-founder’s network of organisations and initiatives. The latter is Vulcan’s vehicle for making grants to NGOs, especially ones concerned with wildlife and oceanic issues.

Vulcan Inc’s assets range from global financial investments and business ventures, to a vast property portfolio, high-value art and a professional American football team, Seattle Seahawks. Since Paul G Allen’s death in 2018, Vulcan has been the sole property of his sister Jody Allen.

In 2016, Vulcan was one of the founding members of the Shark Conservation Fund (SCF), which was created, in SCF’s words, ‘to list at least 50 percent of the most commercially valuable sharks in CITES’ appendices’. To this end, Vulcan provides SCF with funds which are then passed on to NGOs which campaign to list sharks and rays in Appendix I or II of CITES. 

Vulcan’s money and management was the force behind the pan-African Great Elephant Census, in cooperation with Elephants Without Borders. This two-year survey counted from the air and from dung samples the number of savanna elephants throughout Africa. Air surveillance is a technique that Elephants Without Borders has since been accused of manipulating: see The New York Times’ Doubts Mount in Botswana Over Charity’s Claim of Elephant ‘Poaching Frenzy’. IUCN has relied on Vulcan’s and EWB’s findings to calibrate the status of Africa’s elephant stocks and to provide advice to CITES. In other words, neither IUCN not CITES did the research themselves.

Unlike most philanthropic foundations, Paul G Allen Family Foundation/Vulcan attends CITES’ CoPs as an active participant.

Leaders and governance

Jody Allen is co-founder, board chair, and president of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.


According to form 990, in 2019 Paul G Allen Family Foundation’s revenue was USD74 million and it had USD931 million in assets.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.