The founders of WWF established the National Appeals, now known as National Organizations. These are separate legal entities that are responsible to their own boards and accountable to their donors. They give up to two-thirds of the funds they raise to the international secretariat (at WWF International) and keep the remainder to spend on whichever conservation projects they choose. WWF International is accountable to the National Organizations, donors, and the Swiss authorities.Offices of WWF fall into one of two categories:
- Those that can raise funds and carry out work independently
- Those that must work under the direction of one of the independent WWF offices
All offices, however, carry out local conservation work such as practical field projects, scientific research, advising governments on environmental policy, promoting environmental education, and raising awareness of environmental issues.
To keep operations going, in 1970, the President of WWF International, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, otherwise known as the "Flying Prince of Conservation," set up a fund known as "The 1001: A Nature Trust," to which 1,001 individuals each contributed $10,000 (totaling just over $10 million). Interest from the trust fund helps WWF International to meet its administration costs. Since 1983, WWF has collaborated with postal authorities in more than 200 countries to feature select threatened species on official postage stamps, so far raising over $13 million. In total, contributions from individuals remain the organization's most important source of funds, making up approximately half of its annual income. Governments and aid agencies provide 20 percent of WWF's income, while 16 percent comes from trusts and legacies and 17 percent comes from other sources, including donations from corporations and royalties on merchandise.