The little Aussie battler batting above its weight – How the bilby built a fundraising program from the ground up

the challenge

Save the Bilby Fund (the Fund) had experienced the loss of several income streams over recent years and were running on the smell of an oily rag—less than $300,000 in unpredictable income per year. This financial strain was impeding their ability to bring the bilby—a native Aussie battler—back from the brink of extinction.

how we tackled it

In 2017, the Fund was introduced to FED, and started changing their approach to fundraising. Moving away from an over reliance on school fundraising and the sale of chocolate bilbies, the Fund followed FED’s recommendations to invest their time and energy into individual giving.

FED first helped the Fund develop a crisis appeal, which generated $100,000 and was enough to allow the team to rebuild the dilapidated bilby breeding facilities in Queensland.

Following this, the Fund developed two advocacy campaigns, which took aim firstly at Cadbury’s (and subsequently Coles and Woolworths) for failing to put chocolate bilbies on the shelf for Aussie consumers. Together, these two campaigns generated over 30,000 petition signatures, and delivered hundreds of new regular givers and thousands of new cash supporters for the Fund.

From 2020, the Fund began implementing two major cash appeals each year, at Tax and Christmas time. Setting up a direct mail program from scratch would simply be cost-prohibitive for the Fund, so the appeals are online only—primarily through email and Facebook solicitations. Regular investment in digital acquisition, alongside these cash appeals, ensures the pool of bilby supporters never stagnates.

The Fund has also worked tirelessly to foster its connection with the general public, improving the amazing tourist opportunity in western Queensland: the Charleville Bilby Experience. Not to miss a chance to translate this experience into fundraising dollars, the Fund actively surveys visitors and takes these passive supporters on a journey to becoming fully fledged donors and bilby lovers.

In 2021, the Fund worked closely with FED to implement its inaugural Giving Day, ‘Dig Deep for the Bilbies’. Now in its third consecutive year and counting, this event brings in over $200,000 per year for the Fund.

the result

The small team at Save the Bilby Fund, through their CEO Kevin Bradley’s voice, have done an incredible job at making their donors every bit as invested in saving the bilby as they are.

Since 2017, the organisation has gone from one relying on unsustainable and volatile income to one now generating around $1M a year. They’re a true ‘David vs. Goliath’ success story in every way.

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