Show me the money: Understanding online donations for biodiversity conservation
Diogo Verissimo Diogo Verissimo
Durrell Institute Of Conservation And Ecology, University Of KentAuthors
Lack of funding has traditionally limited conservation interventions. As governments have failed to step up their commitment towards biodiversity conservation, NGOs have tried to tackle these constrains by increasing fundraising efforts near broad non-specialist audiences. However, in recent years the donor pool and amounts donated have contracted, which coupled with the growing number of NGOs have made fundraising increasingly difficult and competitive.
We used multi-year datasets on the donation behaviour of the website users of WWF-US and EDGE Programme/ZSL to identify the drivers of online conservation donations. As most of these revolve around species, we modelled the probability of each of the about 200 featured species eliciting donations, using linear regression with multimodel inference. We included not only biological species traits but also audience perceptions, website features and marketing efforts.
We showed that eliciting online donations for species conservation has to go beyond biological species traits and that fundraising campaigns need to be designed with the perceptions of their target audience in mind. In addition, having a marketing strategy is a key element in conservation fundraising. This means conservationists working with groups traditionally perceived as less charismatic can use it as a tool to improve their fundraising prospects.
This is the first study on conservation fundraising to focus on the internet as a key emerging communication channel and on the behavior of actual donors (instead of on attitudinal measures which might not translate into action). This research provides important strategic insights into how conservation fundraising must work to expand, namely towards new key audiences such as the increasingly urbanized middle class in emerging economies such as China, Brazil or India.