Case Study: Elephants for Africa – funding conservation charities

College College of Science
School / Department (list all where collaborative across more than one) Department of Life Sciences
Project / Innovation Title Elephants for Africa – funding conservation charities
Start & End Dates (where applicable) 23-02-22 to 23-03-22
Project Lead Name Iain Stott


Charities are a very important vehicle for nature conservation, and as such it is paramount that conservation biology students understand how charities function and are funded, what sort of work can be funded, and how to procure money from funding bodies. We capitalised on the benefits learned from online T&L to run an online session with a charity ‘Elephants for Africa’ (EFA), who conserve Botswanan elephants, working with and educating local communities and providing solutions to human-wildlife conflict.

Students learned from the charity CEO and founder (based in Sweden) about her role in running the charity and procuring funding from various sources for the various projects they run. We also heard from a staff member (based in Botswana) about his daily role in running education projects in local communities. This gave a two-pronged perspective to students, including both high-level structural and functional elements of the organisation as a whole, to daily activities and the challenges of working at the intersection of people and nature.

Both also talked about their personal journeys to the roles they now have, through balancing education, work and family. These testimonies held a strong element of ‘decolonising the curriculum’, as students learned of the charity’s journey from employing primarily white European staff, to having a policy of employing only staff from local communities in Botswana. The students learned of concepts such as the ‘white saviour complex’ and environmental justice. The CEO, who holds a doctorate, spoke of her journey discovering her own neurodivergence and late diagnosis of dyslexia, which impacted her studies greatly. Both speakers were candid about their unique journeys to their positions, and the challenges they faced.

Following talks, we held an online workshop during which students were given an example of a previous conservation project from EFA with examples in science, outreach and education, along with an example of funding criteria from a grant-awarding organisation. Students were required to come up with a bullet point skeleton of a funding application, based on the examples they were given. The workshop feeds directly into their first assessment, which is to design and write an application for a small conservation project in ecology, teaching or outreach.

In a reflection and feedback session at the end of the module, students rated the session as one of the most enjoyable and ‘inspiring’ of the whole module. The CEO subsequently has used my testimony and student feedback to secure a position as a course leader for a ‘Fundraising with Conservation Projects’ with Conservation Careers.

For 2022-23, we have acknowledged which elements of the online session work well and which work less well. The session will now be split up into an online seminar from EFA, followed by a linked but separate in-person workshop on fundraising, run by the module lead. This decision was made due to low student engagement with the interactive elements of the session.

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