Partner Spotlight
December 04 2018

Coastal Stewardship with Scott Dunn President, John Spence

Scott Dunn has supported the Surfrider Foundation since 2017. The organization was initially inspired to get involved as a result of the company's coastal office location and their clientele's deep love for the ocean. Apart from their generous contributions to Surfrider's mission of protecting the ocean, waves and beaches through the years, the team at Scott Dunn has also participated in staff beach cleanups and coastal education days. In addition, the team has donated an incredible luxury vacation package for Surfrider's annual One Ocean fundraising event to engage their internal community in supporting Surfrider's mission.

We caught up with Scott Dunn President, John Spence, to dig a little deeper into the company's motivation for supporting Surfrider, how their Responsible Travel Team is helping them to lessen the company's environmental impact, and his own vision for the future health of our ocean, waves and beaches.

Since opening their California office in 2016, the Scott Dunn team wanted to find a charity to work with that would resonate with the values of their staff and guests, which meant finding one that worked to protect the ocean and beaches. "Scott Dunn has been in the travel business for over 33 years and many of our guests trust us to show them pristine parts of the world, whether on land or at sea," John explained. "A huge portion of these guests are divers, surfers, and beach lovers visiting oceans from the Indian to the Adriatic Sea and unfortunately, we’ve all seen erosion in these areas due to factors like human encroachment and overdevelopment. We wanted to find a partner that worked to lessen this impact, and the Surfrider Foundation was the perfect fit."

Being embedded in a coastal community by proximity, it was equally important to Scott Dunn to align with an organization that they wouldn't just be supporting from afar, but could get involved with on local and individual levels as well. "We’re lucky enough to have an office located just blocks from the beach and many of us enjoy a surf during our lunch break," John told us. "So protecting our ocean and beaches is something that we’re all personally invested in." Surfrider's network of chapters that focus on local issues was an appealing factor in its accessibility and widespread applicability, John explained. "The work that Surfrider does impacts us all, especially because they approach issues from both a macro and micro level. Anyone can really get involved!"

For John and the Scott Dunn team, a highlight of their 2018 contribution to Surfrider— beyond their monetary support and the amazing luxury travel package donated to our annual Los Angeles fundraising event— was in their hands-on experience volunteering in their own community. "Getting personally involved, and not only financially or through the prize we donated to One Ocean, but through the local cleanup that our entire office participated in was eye-opening," John told us of the staff's experience of cleaning up their home beach. "Though we work near a fairly clean beach, the amount of plastic we were able to pick up was mind boggling... I was shocked 10 years ago when I moved to the U.S. from the U.K. by the amount plastic that’s consumed here... We need to change the disposable society we live in."

Scott Dunn typically works with up to four recognized non-profit organizations per year, including Tusk in Africa and Small Steps in Southeast Asia, alongside Surfrider and others, with the goal of not just contributing to charities monetarily, but also supporting their causes so that their staff and guests are inspired to get involved. "We want guests to know if they travel with us, that indirectly some of their money is going to a good cause."

Beyond charitable giving, Scott Dunn is making a conscious effort to ensure that they are continuously improving the sustainability of their own practices. "Perhaps what people don’t know is that the travel business in many ways supports a huge amount of conservation and charity work in itself," John explained. "Before we got involved in Surfrider, we knew that company-wide we had to make a change to be ‘greener.’ So, we created an in-office Responsible Travel Team made up of members across all of our offices, to brainstorm ways that we can leave a smaller footprint, create less waste and cut down on plastic use. It’s been a great way to get everyone involved. Small changes can make a huge difference. We of course know we can do even more, but baby steps."