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How the RSPB Elevated their Fundraising with Collectable Badges

18 January, 2019

What do stamps, coins and charity badges have in common? They’re all very collectable! People young and old are passionate about finding, collecting, trading and selling these special items. When it comes to collectable badges for fundraising, there is one shining example that stands apart from the others: RSPB. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, or RSPB for short, is now the largest nature conservation charity in the country.

It’s also the market leader in fundraising pin badges. The charity offers collectable badges featuring birds, animals, insects and flowers. In 2016 and 2017, the badges helped the charity raise almost £570,000 in profit! But how did RSPB achieve this impressive milestone? And what lessons can your own charity take away? In this post, we take a glimpse into the history and success of the RSPB and its popular, collectable fundraising badges.

 A brief history of RSPB badges.

Here’s a lesson: You don’t have to be a new charity to try a new fundraising strategy. RSPB had existed for nearly 100 years when it introduced its first bird badges. (Interesting fact: The charity was started by a group of women campaigning against the slaughter of birds for hats.)

As the charity approached a million members in the late 90’s, it needed something special to encourage more donations and to serve as an attractive reminder and thank you for its supporters. The first set of enamel bird badges was born in 1996, and distribution started in 1997. The first four enamel badges were the Bittern, Bullfinch, Puffin and Red Kite.



The following year, four more bird badges were added. The next year, three more badges were made. This trend continued, with many new badges being commissioned every year. The bird designs are strategically selected, often because their numbers are on decline or because they are a favourite among supporters or are particularly charismatic or colourful. Many of the fundraising badges are placed on matching, branded backing cards.

Today, the RSPB continues to grow and enhance its special collection of fundraising badges. In 2005, insect and mammal pins were added to the bird series with different backing cards for a collectable “British Wildlife” series. And in 2015, the RSPB added to its badges for special events, with a swan heart badge that is ideal for weddings. The RSPB keeps developing special and limited-edition badges as well as badges tied to specific campaigns or seasons. And people continue to covet and collect all of them!

An expansive collection that is widely available.

Since the beginning of the scheme, the RSPB has produced more than 250 different badges, including redesigns of older badges. We’re excited to announce that they’ve just introduced
their latest collection for 2019, including a new elephant hawk-moth badge!



But collectable badges only raise funds if people can find and buy them. To that end, the RSPB badges can be purchased at 8,000 independent shops, garden centres and other retail locations across the country! They can even be purchased at nature reserves.

If you’d like to consider a large-scale rollout for your own charity, consider taking a note from the RSPB and offer a map or list of places where badges can be purchased. The RSPB even offers a handy downloadable brochure of all their current and past designs. It’s quite fun to look at!

Another tip is to sell your badges in multiple places. In addition to retail locations and nature reserves, the RSPB also sells its badges on eBay. In this way, the RSPB can reach a global audience of badge collectors. The charity also offers an easy way for volunteers or groups to help the RSPB sell pin badges or to buy them in bulk for a special event.

How much funds do they raise?

For the 2016 to 2017 financial year, the RSPB raised almost £570,000 in profit! This money will help the charity conduct vital conservation work across the UK. In general, the RSPB spends 90 percent of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy.

The RSPB has also identified some interesting opportunities to leverage badges in partnership with other important causes. For example, in 2016, the RSPB collaborated with the world’s largest youth organisation to create an RSPB/Girlguiding badge to help young children learn more about wildlife. Once you’re up and running with your own fundraising badges, look for similar opportunities to partner with other charities or events on special edition badges.

Stamp collectors are called philatelists and coin collectors are known as numismatists. What identity could be shaped by your future badge collectors? Why not give this group a fun, creative name and start to build a community around your most dedicated collectors? The RSPB, for example, had so much success with its badges that it formed an RSPB Pin-Badge Collectors Group in 2008. For a small fee, members get special information on new releases and access to rarer badges.

We’d love to hear more about your charity and brainstorm how badges can help you raise funds this year and long into the future. Please get in touch with us today!


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