Photos of a Myoti bat and an African male lion (Credit: istock)

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that so-called ‘non-charismatic’ animals, such as bats, could be used just as effectively as lions for fundraising by wildlife charities.

A study published today (27 August 2018) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science found that the average donation given after watching videos of bats or lions was the same size if the accompanying voice-over mentioned that the animals are threatened by human activities such as illegal hunting and poaching.

However, people are more likely to donate after watching a video featuring lions if there was no mention of the impact of humans, according to the research by Dr Ganga Shreedhar and Professor Susana Mourato.

They also discovered that 80 per cent of people were more likely to say they would make a donation after watching a fundraising video about threats to lions, compared with about 64 per cent who watched a similar video about bats.

Dr Shreedhar said: “Our results confirm previous findings that people respond more favourably to images of so-called ‘charismatic’ species, such as lions. But we have also shown for the first time that explicitly mentioning the threats from humans can lead to bigger donations, even for non-charismatic animals like bats.”

She added: “This means that wildlife charities could draw more attention to the impact of humans on a wider range of animals, both to raise bigger donations and to educate people more about the extent of the threat they face.”

The researchers recruited 564 volunteers to watch short fundraising videos about conservation in the African savanna, mocked up by the researchers. After viewing, the participants were asked if and how much they would be willing to donate to a wildlife charity if they were given £25. They were also asked to describe their feelings.

The researchers found that people reported greater feelings of anger and interest when viewing videos that mentioned humans are endangering wildlife, including ‘non-charismatic’ animals such as bats.

Dr Shreedhar said: “Our results show that mentioning the threats faced by wildlife from humans increases feelings of outrage, which may lead to an increase in generosity.”

For more information about this media release or a copy of the paper on ‘Seeing red, but acting green? Experimental evidence on charitable giving and affect towards biodiversity’, please contact Bob Ward on +44 (0) 7811 320346 or



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