GCC has a lot to thank Chris and Martha Spencer for. Their inaugural large-scale operational donation provided the launch pad GCC needed to attract additional partners and begin its journey into wildlife conservation through education. We chat with Chris Spencer about what touched, inspired, and interested him in GCC.
How did you hear about GCC?
We saw that there was going to be an event in downtown Atlanta about rhinos and both my wife and I have always been interested in animal conservation in Africa, so we decided to go. Matt’s group was holding an event there.
What inspired you the most about GCC?
They showed a clip from their Rhino Man movie and the event was really good. They were speaking to a lot of young people and it was really an exciting event. We were just very impressed by the whole group. We got to know them better after a few more meetings and were very impressed. We liked what Matt (Matt Lindenberg, GCC’s Founder) was doing and how professional he was. He was running the organization the right way. The things he was doing were also scalable, so if he had a good idea or a program he was trying to put into place, it wasn’t a one-shot deal, it was something that could grow.
Have you and your wife always been interested in conservation?
When Cecil the lion was killed (the lion who was being studied and tracked by a research team at Oxford University who was then killed by a big-game hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015), my wife went on a rally and met a lot of people who were involved in this on the African side. We met the man who had collared Cecil and was tracking him for 10 years and we went to a few of his events. We went to Africa and met him there too, so when we met Matt we immediately understood what he was trying to do.
Are you involved in GCC operations in any way?
There were no strings attached to my donation. I didn’t want to be on the board of directors, I just wanted to give Matt stability so that the cost of operations was taken care of. Hopefully, this would inspire others to donate, knowing that 100% of their money would go to the cause. I do chat to Matt once a month though and we talk about ideas.
You were the first person to give financial support to GCC at the beginning. What changes have you seen since then?
I would say that I have just seen Matt become more and more professional. The board members he has and the people he meets with are very impressive from both the donor side and the government side. He essentially runs a non-profit business like a for-profit business. I am also very impressed with the structure of the organization, how everything is set up. I like his long-term vision and the fact that he is not afraid to ask for help if he needs it and he listens. That’s a big deal. I have seen a lot of guys not make it because they won’t ask for help.
Just one last question for you – which is a little childlike, but we love to ask it anyway – what is your favorite animal?
I would have to say lions and rhinos because we are so involved with both animals and we have gained so much knowledge about them from the people we support and work with, so I would pick them as our favorites.