RSPB Gough Island - Helping to stop an extinction emergency. An Albatross pair nesting with their chick.

Helping to stop an extinction emergency

15% response rate. Beating target by over 50%

RSPB Gough Island Appeal 2020-2021

Cherry Tiger has a wealth of experience in developing appeals for all our charity clients. Having been proud to produce the RSPB’s Appeals in print and digital for over 8 years, we were excited to develop the appeal for one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the RSPB and partner organisations.

Gough Island is a UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic and one of the most unique seabird breeding sites in the world. It’s home to globally important populations of seabirds including the Critically Endangered Tristan albatross amongst many others.

However, tragically, seabird numbers are being decimated by invasive mice, brought to the island by visiting boats in the 19th century. The RSPB and its partners needed to raise money towards completing their goal to remove this invasive species threat from the island.

This became a very unusual appeal, for both the RSPB and Cherry Tiger, as we had to create the appeal twice! Tragically, due to the pandemic, the original 2020 plan to remove the mice – and the focus of the original appeal – had to be postponed for 12 months mid-way through setting up operations on the Island. That meant we had to go back to supporters – both new to the appeal and to those who had donated before – to bring them up to date and inspire a donation all over again in 2021.

Cherry Tiger knew that the original 2020 appeal focussed on a very sensitive subject – both in terms of was happening to the seabird chicks on Gough (they are attacked by the mice) and that the only viable solution was to kill every mouse on the island. But we also knew it was an incredibly powerful one.

Working with the appeals team, we made a decision that we couldn’t shy away from showing what was actually happening to the seabirds, although we did warn readers that they might find the imagery upsetting.

Video played an important role in digital channels. We also had to make sure all readers knew that they were saving a huge number of birds – including several species threatened by extinction – and that they would be helping to return a unique, remote island back to its pristine state.

For the appeal in 2021, we developed bespoke content for new supporters and those who had already donated. Dialling elements up and down according to the readers level of awareness, we conveyed the plight on Gough once more, explained why the last project plan could not go ahead and what had happened in the intervening months – and most importantly why we needed to ask for support again.

This was a project that we immersed ourselves in, having spoken to Michelle, one of the team on Gough island. She became the signatory of the appeal and kindly shared some of her amazing personal photography directly from Gough with us. She also talked to us again a year later when she was in quarantine in South Africa waiting to return to the island. Her passion was instrumental in really helping us bring the story to life.

The first appeal has been one of the most successful in recent years, generating a response rate of 15% across channels and generating over £300,000 The second appeal has been equally successful securing fantastic generosity from its target audience.

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