The Trust founders were William and Charlotte Parks – a wonderful couple with a great devotion to animal welfare. When they first started discussing what sort of legacy they might leave, they were living just outside York, Maine and were already in their seventies. Charlotte had long been an animal activist (before that term was widely used!). She corresponded extensively with representatives from a number of organizations like John Walsh of WSPA, Dr. Barbara Orlans of the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, Dr. Michael Fox of The Humane Society of the United States, Jim Mason of Animal’s Agenda – Animal Rights Network, Robert Brown of Food Animal Concerns Trust and myself – Andrew Rowan.
Charlotte was interested in a wide range of animal issues to which she brought a keen intellect and a no nonsense approach. She was a generous benefactor but she wanted to understand how the monies would be used and how they would improve the status of animal welfare. All of us felt it was a great privilege to interact with Charlotte and William and we welcomed her questions and support.
The big challenge for Charlotte and William as they determined how to set up their Trust was to ensure that the funds would continue to be used to support projects of which they would have approved had they been alive to personally consider them. The solution they came up with was to identify six organizations doing the sort of work they supported and then allocate 50% of the Trust’s annual giving to those six. The remaining funds would then be dispersed by a Grants Committee, consisting of representatives of the organizations named in the Trust deeds, to projects that met the objectives laid out in the Trust document.
William and Charlotte Parks devised an excellent mechanism to ensure that the funds would go to appropriate projects of which they would have approved. In contrast, a number of other trusts established to support animal welfare before and since the Parks Trust’s formation have not honored their founders’ wishes (as laid out in the original documents establishing those trusts). The Parks Trust, on the other hand, despite many changes in the membership of the Grants Committee, continues to support animal welfare projects and ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the intentions of William and Charlotte Parks are followed.