Wader Quest £10,000 fundraising milestone passed
It all started in a small bedroom in Newport Pagnell. We had just returned from Brazil having been involved in setting up some small conservation projects in our local community. That was all now behind us, but what lay ahead of us?
We knew two things for sure. One was that we wanted to see a Spoon-billed Sandpiper while we still could and the other was that we needed a conservation project to get our teeth into. It was not our original intention to combine the two, but when we attended a lecture by Nigel Clark of the BTO about the plight of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, we decided that we wanted to be involved. But how? The only way we could see was to raise money and we decided to do so for the WWT Spoon-billed Sandpiper captive breeding programme.
We then embarked on our epic self-funded journeys around the globe in the hope of raising both awareness and money, but we were largely on our own, no-one came forward to sponsor us and publicity was hard to achieve as we were unknown with no experience. What was most frustrating though was that we heard that many people thought they would be paying for our trips with their donations so were not inclined to contribute. We did our best though and some 18 months later we presented the WWT with £3,526.06 (including Gift Aid).
We were pretty chuffed to be honest and we had also started raising money for BirdLife Australia by that time, presenting them with £1,128.50, slightly more than the £1,000 we had pledged, to help with their beach nesting birds programme, specifically to help the Hooded Plovers.
It was then that the project morphed into a charity and the real fun began.
Since then we have done everything within our power to raise money and spend pretty much all our time working on it. These blogs and social media have been crucial, especially Elis' tireless attention to what is going on in that sphere, sharing not only our stuff, but that of others too to boost awareness about the state of the worlds waders today.
We introduced a subscription based sponsorship which has now changed to Friends of Wader Quest, every penny of that and all donations made we guarantee will be used, through our Grants and Magellanic Plover Funds, for wader conservation.
In order to guarantee that all subscriptions and donations can be used for the purpose that was intended for them, we had to make sure we had some other income in order to pay for running costs. This we have done in several ways.
We have created some merchandising such as the Wader Quest Collectables Pins which are very popular, we have had more ephemeral projects like the Spoon-billed Sandpiper models and the extremely popular Lars Jonsson posters, all of these have brought us a small amount of profit and at the same time a good deal of profile awareness in the birding public's eye.
We have worked very hard in order to start and run the Mobile Charity Shop. We collect items that are donated to us to sell and then attend car boot sales in order to realise the monetary gain.
In addition to all this we have created a quarterly newsletter for our Friends, Sponsors and Supporters which has been widely appreciated and we have had some fantastic contributions to fill it from all over the globe, there have been a total of eight issues so far and a Wader Conservation World Watch special report.
Events such as the now annual Wader Conservation World Watch and the first Wader Festivals to be held in the UK at the Wirral and the Wash were a success despite the awful weather we suffered at both, the point being that the UK is no longer a place where waders are not celebrated by having their own dedicated festival.
We continue to do all this voluntarily, no payment of any kind is received by anyone involved in Wader Quest, we do not even take out anything for the expenses we incur for travel, accommodation etc (nor do our Trustees - so thank you to them).
A very big thank you to all of you who have supported us in many ways, donations, subscriptions, volunteering at events, Trustees, and even those of you who have bought items, it has all been of immense help and has got us where we are today.