Joe Nunez-Mino explains how his wildlife charity drummed up support with a T-shirt campaign
The Bat Conservation Trust is dedicated to the conservation of UK bats and their habitats. We are a small team of wildlife aficionados, specifically enthusiastic about bats, taking every opportunity to engage and educate people on the positive effects bats have on our environment and our lives, and to dispel any myths or misconceptions people may have about these enigmatic creatures.
For income, we rely on donations from our members, regular and singular donors and a number of people who fundraise on our behalf by hosting events or activities. For us, fundraising is not just about generating income, but also about raising awareness of how important bats are for humans and our environment, and so we are always looking for new and creative ways to engage people with our cause.
Each year, we host and attend a small number of events - such as the Bat Festival we ran in July at the Natural History Museum gardens. This year’s BatFest was a huge success, with over 3,000 people in attendance. Events such as these really help us to drum up support, and to convert members of the public into fully fledged bat enthusiasts.
Responding to demand
At our events and conferences, we often get people asking to buy BCT branded merchandise. It’s also a common request from our fans on social media. But we’re a small team, and like most charities, we’re short on money, time and space. Unfortunately we just don’t have the budget to create and sell our own merchandise, as much as we wish we could.
Recently, however, while researching new fundraising options, we discovered Fabrily, a new crowdfunding platform which handles the whole process of creating, selling and posting fundraiser T-shirts, without the campaigner having to pay anything (Fabrily fees are included in the base cost of the items, while all additional profits generated from sales go to the campaigner).
Although it took a while to come up with the final T-shirt design, the process itself was really simple. We launched our ‘Heart Bats’ T-shirt campaign in August, originally setting a target to sell 30 T-shirts by the end of the campaign. To our surprise (and immense joy) we managed to reach that target in less than five hours.
We were totally blown away by the immediate positive reaction to the campaign. Although we initially decided to run it for 27 days, we extended it to run in conjunction with our National Bat Conference, enabling us to sell the T-shirts to our many delegates and attendees.
Keeping the momentum going
After the campaign went live, we had to ensure as many people knew about it as possible; so we shared it with our followers on all of our social media channels straight away, and encouraged them to also share it with their pages and communities. Fabrily provided promotional images for us to share on social media, and they featured BCT in their blog to help boost campaign exposure and increase sales. We also created a special edition of our regular newsletter to ensure it reached those people who may not be as active on social media.
We’ve recently hit 60,000 likes on Facebook and over 20,000 followers on Twitter, which is a great indication that we are engaging the public with bats. However, turning our social media following into actual funds raised for the charity was the challenge. The key for us was to keep posting fresh interesting and exciting content. We kept our supporters updated on how well we were doing with the T-shirt campaign - and found that this created a domino effect, which led to even more sales.
Reaping the rewards
By the end of the campaign we had succeeded our initial target by miles: we sold a total of 552 T-shirts, raising over £4,300 towards our conservation initiatives.
The money raised will help fun a range of projects, including our helpline (which delivers advice to people who have found injured bats or have bats in their homes), our bat monitoring projects and our crime investigations project.
It was refreshing to see so many new supporters attracted by the campaign - not just in terms of our social media following, but through memberships and donations as well. Our T-shirt campaign is one of the most successful fundraiser campaigns we have ran to date, and we hope to run many more in the future.
Dr. Joe Nunez-Mino is director of communications & fundraising at Bat Conservation Trust. He would like to thank intern Molly Patterson for her invaluable contribution to this article.