Crowdfunding Fuels Next Generation Of Wildlife Conservationists

A nonprofit team in South Africa tapped into the power of crowdfunding to craft a sustainable future. Learn how they did it.


A DAKTARI student
A student hugs a donkey at DAKTARI.


A nonprofit on the brink of closure

DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage connects local youth with the environment. Located in Hoedspruit, South Africa, the nonprofit invites students from local schools to its wildlife orphanage and hosts educational field trips to nearby game reserves. DAKTARI’s founders, husband-and-wife Michèle and Ian Merrifield, initially envisioned DAKTARI as a haven (in their backyard) for orphaned and injured domestic and wild animals. Their vision grew when Michèle discovered a huge gap in education in local schools. Students weren’t learning much about the diverse, but endangered wildlife all around them. Michèle and Ian knew that investing in the next generation of conservationists was critical to the future of animals in South Africa.

Ian and Michèle saw success early on. One of their first students, Mina, went on to study environmental education after her time with DAKTARI and pursued a career in conservation. But in 2008 the organization began to struggle financially. DAKTARI was on the verge of closure. When researching funding opportunities, Ian found GlobalGiving. He and Michèle saw an opportunity to expand their current network of supporters.

“We chose GlobalGiving for fundraising because we needed to be present on the American continents,” shared Michèle, who had no experience in crowdfunding, but was willing to try something new to keep DAKTARI open.

In 2008, DAKTARI joined a GlobalGiving virtual crowdfunding training program, which culminated in a time-bound crowdfunding campaign. Though Michèle and Ian were newcomers to crowdfunding, they were able to lean on GlobalGiving for support.

“We had no strategy heading into the challenge,” says Michèle, but, “GlobalGiving was very present and gave us the support to help us develop the technique and knowledge of fundraising that we didn’t have.”

Baby Warthog
A baby warthog on a mission at DAKTARI.


Crowdfunding across continents

During its first crowdfunding campaign, the DAKTARI team surpassed their expectations, by raising almost $8,000! This spike in funding allowed DAKTARI to continue to fully operate and provide educational opportunities to students in South Africa. Michèle and Ian credit GlobalGiving for helping DAKTARI to learn how to be more effective and tap into the power of crowdfunding.

“GlobalGiving gave us heart-warming support. Not only the staff we were in contact with but the webinars and toolkits they offered. We didn’t feel alone in managing our nonprofit. DAKTARI is alive today because we managed to raise funds on GlobalGiving,” shared Michèle.

Students at DAKTARI
DAKTARI students pose with rescued animals.


A sustainable future

In January 2016, DAKTARI celebrated its 10th anniversary! Since 2006, more than 3,000 students have participated in their programs. The DAKTARI team hopes to continue inspiring more students like Mina to be lifetime conservation advocates.

Today, DAKTARI continues to successfully fundraise as part of the GlobalGiving community. In 2014 alone, DAKTARI raised more than $18,500! Michèle considers GlobalGiving to be an extension of her nonprofit.

“I am very attached to GlobalGiving because it saved the future of DAKTARI. GlobalGiving has taught me how to fundraise effectively and given a new dimension to our organization.”

Featured Photo by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
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