Wildlife Direct is an Internet, Kenya-based US registered conservation charity, founded in 2005 by African conservationist, Dr. Richard Leakey.
It was founded with the goal to connect directly those who care about wildlife with those who work in the frontlines through ‘blogging’ portal, where conservationists can use their blogging platform (hosted on their site) to blog stories on wildlife conditions in remote areas of Asia, Africa, and South America.
Using blogs enable individual donors, supporters from around the world to participate and communicate directly with the bloggers working on conservation projects they are funding and build trust.
Wildlife Direct has grown from hosting a modest twenty blogs in 2006 – to becoming the largest online community of African wildlife conservationists. I started doing research for the original piece of this post in early 2012, then it hosted approximately 80 blogs on its platform. Today, WD hosts over 100 blogs (although some are currently non-active) written by conservationists working remotely from Africa – East, Central and West Africa – and as far away as Asia and South America. Furthermore, on site blogs are interlinked to a point where readers can click to search other blogs of interest based on region or species.
Even though, Wildlife Direct has integrated the use of blogging with social media tools – Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube – blogging is still the area where they shine. It is still the preferred story-telling tool use by the majority of conservationists working from the frontlines.
The blogging platform allows bloggers to customize content that tell stories about endangered species projects they are preserving using a combination of text, video clips and pictures. Their stories give donors the assurance for transparency, accountability, and work progress – so that they can continue funding those conservation missions, programs, etc.
The Lion Guardians
Take for example, the “Lion Guardians,”one of Wildlife Direct’s most active blogs. LG started blogging about lions in 2008. This lion guardian project currently employs more than 40 Maasai warriors, who monitors 3,500 kilometers of one of the world’s most treasured areas, the greater Amboseli ecosystem at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. Their blogs are so transparent that you can read bios of the guardians and area they cover (links). Topics written represent different interests from cultural, ecological, to political. Most of the posts written ranged from the tribe Maasai traditions, their field work, Amboseli ecosystem, LG’s work, research work – all the way to political conflicts.
Social media channels and metrics (as of 1/7/14)
|Social media channels: Wildlife Direct||Social media channels: Lions Guardians|
|3,278 fans||4,987 fans|
|7,128 followers||1,032 followers|
|YouTube||793 subscribers, 724,120 views||Blog||RSS|
Over the years these stories told to-the-world has helped raise awareness and support for the organization. To measure the rate of success, we just have to look at what they accomplished in the first anniversary of the blog in 2008 when their blogging efforts paid off. LG raised a cool $18,000! The efforts show how transparency matters to supporters.
A communication tool as simple as a blog, when it is used correctly to provide relevant information important to a targeted audience, build awareness for the organization’s mission, programs, drive online donations and even create excitement for the launching of a new website.
In addition to the who’s who of private donors, sponsors, the Lion Guardians also thanked its blog’s loyal audience and Facebook fans for their support and to spread the word – and mentioned them in its 2011 Annual Review.
And finally we would like to thank our faithful blog readers and Facebook fans for their meaningful support and for helping us spread the world.
Note: This story was originally written for Econsultancy in 2012 (part of a study of how social media will change the nonprofits landscape). Part of content has been recently updated to reflect the changes.