Strategic Activism: The Rainforest Action Network

Case Solution

David P. Baron, David S. Barlow, Ann M. Barlow, Erin Yurday
Stanford Graduate School of Business ()

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) worked “to protect the world’s rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing and direct nonviolent action.” RAN has fulfilled its mission by conducting campaigns to distract companies from the destruction and exploitation of unsustainable forest resources. RAN worked with other non-governmental organizations, student groups, and indigenous forest communities. Founded in 1985, RAN had 10,000 members in 2003 and an annual budget of $ 2 million. Over time, the scope of RAN’s campaigns had broadened. RAN wanted to stop deforestation of ancient forests, protect fragile ecosystems, and reduce threats to forests and the environment from climate change. RAN’s three campaigns in 2004, the Old Growth Campaign, the Global Finance Campaign, and the Jumpstart Ford, focused on these goals. In April 2003, RAN’s board of directors appointed Michael Brune, the organization’s former campaign leader, as executive director. Brune and the board began a review of RAN’s strategy and mission in light of the expanded scope of RAN’s campaigns. RAN had limited resources and was busy running three campaigns. What changes would be required in RAN’s strategy, structure, and resource base if it expanded its mission to include, for example, natural systems such as clean air, clean water, and the climate?

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