Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Why doesn’t the WLT give introductory gifts to new supporters?

21 November, 2011 - 11:25 -- John Burton

The WLT has a policy of not offering enticements to the public to increase support. Free gifts such as tee shirts, bird food etc.,  all have a cost, and the WLT believes that its supporters and potential supporters are not only aware of this, but would resent Trust funds being used in this way.

Even if a corporate sponsor were to offer such things free, we believe it would still give the wrong message, and that such donated goods should be used in other ways, such as supporting our partners. The only things normally given away to Trust supporters and/or potential supporters are newsletters and other publicity materials relating to the Trust’s work.  In the past sponsors have funded re-usable cotton bags, which have been given away at the BirdFair (but we always ask for a donation, and just about 100% of the recipients have been very pleased to do so.)

How to join WLT without receiving any introductory gifts

Ensure the maximum amount of your donation goes to where it’s needed - make a regular donation and become a WLT partner »


Find out more about the Trust's corporate supporters

Find out more about WLT's programme partners


Submitted by Daniel on

I totally agree with this opinion. And you certainly give something to donators (besides good feelings): certificates that show the amount of protected land through a certain donation

Submitted by Bru on

There’s an element of cutting off your nose to spite your face in this... so the WWF gives away cuddly toys and is spending £115k on a campaign to generate more than £1m at the moment. If that results in more conservation work then why would I object to that? Sometimes you need to spend to accumulate and there’s a lot of competition for our cash out there.

OK, so I’m an adult and I don’t need a toy but if you’re giving an adoption as gift the extras (and I include the cuddly toy here) it does get well received. Sorry, but there it is. If you can spread the word with a gimmick or advertising then the message is getting through somewhere it wasn’t being heard before and, let’s face it, WLT is not the most widely known about conservation body. I certainly know of one long-time WWF/RSPB member who didn’t know about you guys before I informed him.

Just to round things off... it’s human nature to dither. If you can tip the balance into making a decision to join/become a partner then you may have that person for life.

I wondered about joining the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) for years but it just so happened they were offering a guide book I was intending to buy this year as an introductory gift. I’ve now had several of their well-thought out publications and realise what a great job their research does and will renew my membership.

Oh yes, that book cost them a little but they’re going to get that back and far more over my coming years of membership - and I’m spreading the word about BTO research through Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Does that make that initial investment in me now seem expensive or cheap?

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

It's an interesting dilemma.
But I wonder if free gift enticement threatens to undermine the credibility of the proposing charity?
If the cause is really that good, must it take a cuddly toy or a free book to get your new punters in - and then just how committed will those new joiners be? How long will they stick around when you need firm support?
I don't know the answers to these questions, and it would be very revealing to see some hard research on this aspect of 'Good Cause' fundraising, but I look at an NGO's long term track record to make my judgements.
Don't think much of WWF's frankly, considering all their millions.
BTO is fine.

Submitted by Bru on

Off the top of my head I belong to the following organisations:
Trade union/no gift (member for more than 25 years);
Sightsavers International/No gift (supported for more than 10 years);
RSPB/Joining gift (book);
BTO/Gift (book);
Great Bustard Group/gift (mug/fridge magnet);
WLT/No gift;
CTC/No gift (member for more than 10 years, third party cycling insurance is an inducement for me)
Birdlife Malta/No gift;
WWF/No gift (does a badge count?) but gift for family members given animal adoptions.

I’m considering National Trust membership and renewing a regular contribution to Oxfam (supported through donations and purchases at the moment, financial constraints led to cancellation of direct debit three years ago) and support UK wildlife trusts through donations and purchases.

On the face of it my length of support is greater for organisations that haven't provided a gift but, barring financial disaster, I intend to continue all these memberships. I won't pay union subscriptions after retirement in say, 10 years.

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