Why do popular animals get all the funding?

By Zoe Patterson-Ross 7 November 2013
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A new study aims to figure out why some species receive more donations than others.

WOULD YOU RATHER DONATE to a koala than a crocodile?

New research supported by the Australian Geographic Society examines what drives people to donate, and whether there is a pattern behind the animals that receive the most funding.

Diogo Verissimo, a PhD candidate from the University of Kent in England, is conducting a study into marketing as a conservation tool. Part of his research is an online survey for Australian Geographic readers which aims to reveal the drivers behind donations to threatened animals.

“Biodiversity conservation continues to be seriously underfunded,” Diogo told Australian Geographic. “If we understand what drives the public’s interest, we can ensure that we have more relevant, and therefore effective, fundraising campaigns.

“This is much like the work that is done in the commercial sector to get people interested in the latest mobile phone or pair of shoes,” he adds.

The most popular Australian animals

As inhabitants of one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, Australians are surrounded by unique flora and fauna. They are also wealthy enough to be able to significantly invest in their country’s environmental future.

These two facts are what piqued Diogo’s interest in our fair shores, and led him to discuss our situation with University of Queensland research fellow Dr Hamish Campbell, an expert in Australian fauna.

“We share a common interest in understanding the drivers of donations to conservation,” Diogo says. “And so we have been collaborating to join his expertise of Australian fauna and AG fundraisers with my knowledge of marketing and economics.”

Diogo’s PhD research examines donations made to the London Zoological Society and WWF in the United States, as well as the Australian Geographic Society.

Contribute to this research by taking a five-minute online survey.