Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

Today is my last day at EIA. And this is my last blog post.

It only set in late last night; I’ve been so busy wrapping up the loose ends that I have not given myself time to think these past 3 weeks. It has come around so fast. This blog post is somewhat sentimental. If it’s not you’re thing skip here.

EIA is a special place. From the outside people often mistake us for a much larger organisation, or perhaps a governmental body and quite frequently The Environment Agency. I have taken many calls from grieving residents who have rats at the bottom of their garden!

EIA doesn’t have a large marketing budget, that’s why when I talk to new people about EIA they probably haven’t heard of us. In some respects, it’s a shame. We do such amazing things that I really believe more people should know about our work and what we’ve exposed over the last 27 years. But then, having that element of mystery, I think, quite suits us. And when you do speak to someone who has heard of us, their enthusiasm is insatiable. Our success is due to our loyal supporters, many of whom have been with us since our early days. It was a conscious choice to focus our efforts, and thus the majority of our income, on our frontline work. And, for the most part, rightly so.

From the inside, EIA skips between a hive of busy activity to a quieter hum drum as campaigners disappear for weeks at a time attending meetings or going undercover. EIA has some of the most fantastic people working together on a vast variety of issues. They achieve incredible feats but it’s also good to know that they like a pint or a glass of Pinot as much as the next person. And there’s the people you don’t see in front of the camera; the finance girls endlessly tire away doing accounting things beyond my comprehension; the films you watch take a long time to put together, it takes a team of people to bring it to life and in-house staff often compose the emotive music to accompany them; then there’s the fundraising team working to ensure we raise enough money for EIA to thrive and the communications team to do a fantastic job, all of us with limited resources.

So how can we successfully spread the word of EIA under the circumstances?

Using Web 2.0, that’s how. If you’re reading this then we’re obviously doing something right. The great thing is there isn’t a huge cost involved but it does take time. And over the last 18 months or so, we’ve been doing just that. Taking the time, when we can, and slowly building up momentum. Our blog gives our supporters greater insight into what goes on at EIA and allows for people to post comments and ask questions. We’re trying to start conversations and proactively engaging all you folk. And similarly, on Facebook and Twitter we’ve been actively sharing news and information on topics relevant to our areas of work. It wasn’t that long ago that we were only on 300 fans (as they used to be called); it requires a shift in mentality. And that’s why, two years on EIA campaigners are tweeting live from CITES meeting in Geneva. Just yesterday we hit 4000 Facebook “likes”.

I am really excited to say that our new website is nearly finished. It’s been a long slog but it will be going live soon, incorporating more comprehensively our groundbreaking reports, powerful images and emotive films. More than that, our blog will be a part of the main site, so whatever area of our work you’re interested you’ll be able to read a range of information on Illegal Wildlife Trade for example, an informal blog, the latest press release or a detailed report. Well, we aim to please.

So I’m leaving EIA knowing that their communications is heading in right direction, coming on leaps and bounds on social media and on the cusp of a fantastic website. I don’t think that’s too bad.

Sophia Cheng

Fundraising & Communications Officer


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Ah, summertime …

The season to wonder where the spring went so quickly, to flirt with heat stroke on long meandering rambles into the countryside and to duck with stoic tenacity between downpours on traditional day trips to the British seaside.

Weird & Wonderful Wood

Weird & Wonderful Wood

For me, it’s also an opportunity to hook up with old friends at wood festivals around the country, and there spread word of the Environmental Investigation Agency to the curious.

Before I was ‘EIA Press Officer’, I was more widely known as ‘The Soap Lady’s Husband’; my wife Stephanie and I (although, in the interests of honesty, I should admit it’s mostly Steph) have for more than a decade run a small handmade soap business from our home.

We mostly sell through local health food stores and at farmers markets, but in recent years we’ve become regulars on the summer wood festival circuit, a gentle round of traditional wood crafts, smoky campfires and starry nights under canvas.

Steph’s a native New Yorker with enough pizzazz to singlehandedly power the national grid at Christmas, so in the early days there wasn’t much for me to do beyond skulking at the back of the stall with my head in a book, selling the occasional bar of soap while she got on with the more useful business of attracting punters and giving lively talks on the history of soap-making.

Steph at her palm-oil free soap stall

Steph at her palm-oil free soap stall

We’ve always made a point of not using palm oil in our soaps because of the devastating impact palm oil plantations are having on South-East Asia’s forests, but it wasn’t until I fell into a long conversation with a customer at Weird and Wonderful Wood in Suffolk a few years ago that a light bulb flickered on as to how we could perhaps do some good for EIA and spread a little awareness of the issue at the same time as enjoying a delightful weekend in the country.

The customer in question was completely unaware that palm oil was even a cause for concern and, after chatting with her, she was very keen to know more and asked if we had any suggestions as to what she could best do to help. We pointed her in the direction of EIA.

Smelling sweet and raising awareness about EIA & palm oil

Smelling sweet and raising awareness about EIA & palm oil

Since then, our soap stall has added a second string in the form of a display table for EIA reports such as Up For Grabs, growing steadily each year to incorporate copies of Investigator magazine and membership forms. And I get something more constructive to do than working my way through a stack of old paperbacks.

EIA is a small, hardworking NGO and what’s most heartening is the generally enthusiastic response to word of its work, not just in relation to its hands-on campaigning to prevent deforestation around the world but also for its practical efforts to effect meaningful change and proper enforcement in the other issues on which it focuses.

Many people attending wood festivals have a general awareness of conservation issues but often express frustration at trying to turn that concern into something more concrete, wanting to put their money where it will actually do some good.

With that in mind, it’s always a pleasure and never a chore to advocate EIA and its work at the cutting-edge, even more so when converts return year after year to ask for verbal updates on campaigns.

Paul Newman, Press Officer

Paul Newman

EIA Press Officer

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Elephant. Credit Jason ChengThere’s no romantic back-story for how I first became aware of EIA.  Back in March, I literally stumbled past them on a walk. After noticing the sign for EIA’s offices wedged between a few storefronts, I decided to search for the organization on Google. I liked what I saw and requested a volunteer application. Three months later, here I am, a proud EIA fundraising volunteer who can’t believe, firstly, that such a fantastic organization exists and, secondly, my own dumb luck that it had a volunteer position available when I applied.

By the time I found EIA, I had been looking for volunteer positions for months. I am very dedicated to the cause of animal protection and, back at home in the USA, I have donated my time to all manner of animal organizations. From cleaning kennels at the local dog shelter to spending a summer at a farm animal sanctuary writing promotional material, my heart belongs to animals and so does most of my time. When I first moved to London, I was optimistic that I would be able to find something to involve myself in, but while I found plenty of short-term opportunities, the longer term ones seemed to be absent or they weren’t the right fit for my postgraduate schedule. I was disappointed.

EIAHowever, EIA was the missing puzzle piece. Animals are a huge part of what they do – from conducting undercover investigations on the tragic international trade in tiger and elephant parts to protecting cetaceans from whalers out for a quick buck to taking part in conservation efforts on behalf of orangutans and their habitats – but that’s not all. While their work in that arena definitely pulled me in, I was also eager to expand my knowledge beyond my normal focus, to learn more about the illegal timber trade and deforestation as well as ozone layer and climate protection. Sitting in an office surrounded by enthusiastic campaigners and staff, I can’t help but be fascinated by all that they do, animal-related or not – their passion is contagious.

Downtime at EIA HQ

Downtime at EIA HQ

As you could probably tell by my gushing, I adore being at EIA. There is never a dull day at the office as all my tasks are interesting in some way or another. Currently, I’m assisting the fundraising team in researching and designing a fresh set of merchandise for the upcoming website and online store redesign, to be launched mid-summer (I hope you’ll love it). Before that, I was drafting our most recent appeal for assistance in releasing a report on the whaling of endangered fin whales in Iceland. Some of the smaller, more everyday tasks I’m asked to do include database manipulation and letter editing. Don’t tell anyone, but I even get a kick out of playing around with the database. I know… I’m a huge nerd.

Without a doubt, volunteering for EIA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of this past year. In few of the many places I’ve volunteered have I felt so at home while still learning so much. I’m honored to be a meager part of the great work that EIA does and hope that even once my volunteering tenure is up, I can continue to be involved in the work of this small, but incredibly tenacious and much-needed organization.

Have you got what it take to be a volunteer at EIA? We’re currently recruiting a finance volunteer, find out more here.

Lex Berko - Fundraising Volunteer at EIA

Lex Berko

Fundraising Volunteer

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We asked Simon Clinton, the driving force behind the Save Wild Tigers gala held back in March of this year, what makes him so passionate about saving the wild tiger and find out just how ambitious his plans are.
View of a tiger in the wild, India. Copyright Robin Hamilton,

View of a tiger in the wild, India. Image courtesy of Robin Hamilton. Watch the video

Watch the sensational tiger video The Clinton Partnership put together for the project.

“The inaugural Save Wild Tigers black tie dinner in March, at the Mandarin Oriental was without doubt a great success. Why? Firstly we all came together to fight the cause under a single umbrella, EIA, Born Free & WildAid. Secondly, we managed to galvanise support for our 6 month awareness programme – an art exhibition on tigers, a forum at the RGS and finally the gala dinner, which raised close to £100,000. A great achievement by all.
“Back in the 70`s as a kid being brought up in Malaysia I first became aware of Tigers, and indeed my Fathers support then for Tiger conservation work in Malaysia with the WWF. However only in recent years did I really understand how dire the situation was, frightening numbers – 3,200 left, $10,000 for a Tiger skin, 10 years to extinction, these numbers hit hard.
Save Wild Tigers - London 2011

Save Wild Tigers - London 2011

As a marketing guy, the power of this iconic symbol over the years for brands and indeed upon varying cultures is incalculable, think Tony the Tiger from Kellogg’s, think Esso/Exxon Mobile “a Tiger in the Tank”, think enjoying a Tiger beer on a relaxing beach in Malaysia, or a indeed a kids story around Tigers, it’s time we gave something back to them – before it’s too late.
For me, the journey actually begins now, for others like Debbie it began many years ago. Personally, I can’t think of many other causes that have had such a impact on our culture and lives for thousands of years, yet could all be over in 10 short years, indeed we are already 6 months into our 10 years, the clock really is ticking!
“Let’s really pick up the pace, there’s so much we can all do. If you need inspiration, watch the video on www.savewildtigers.org or the EIA site and help us before it’s too late.”
Simon Clinton (left) with Virginia McKenna and artist Gary Hodges

Simon Clinton (left) with Virginia McKenna and artist Gary Hodges at the Tiger Gala

Simon Clinton
The Clinton Partnership

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I have returned back to the office after 5 days in Italy, yes it’s sunny here but Islington Green has nothing on Via Roma or Parco del Valentino, Costa below us doesn’t quite cut it anymore and Pizza Express over the road has lost its appeal. Suffice to say, things have changed post- Turin and that’s not to mention the real reason why I was there.

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Eurocomm, hosted by the International Association of Business Communicators, the Middle East and Europe division, is a communications conference held every two years with speakers from the very top of their field.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, business communicators, small NGO?! Where’s the link? Surely you’re not spending all my donations on trips to Turin. Well no. Thanks to the board of IABC, I managed to secure a scholarship to help me get there and Ryanair did the rest of the job (actually, quite painlessly).

So I arrived with my metaphorical socks pulled up high, pen and paper (and smartphone) poised and ready to learn, or perhaps absorb is a better word, all that I could from the world of communications and see how it could be best applied to EIA.

Ashraf Amin, Journalist shares with us the role of communications during the Egyptian revolution.

Ashraf Amin, Journalist shares with us the role of communications during the Egyptian revolution.

Two days were spent in a stunning location overlooking the city  learning about the latest in comms, with interesting and dynamic people, all fuelled by the best espresso.

In short, I have taken away so much from the conference and could go on at length about the importance of communications but in this information overload world we now inhabit, instead I will summarise some of the key lessons in less than 140 characters. In other words, a tweet!

  • Stephane Dujarric, Director of News & Media at the UN: “Issue comes before the logo”, always tell a compelling human story
  • Silvia Cambie working with the European Training Foundation: “Networks are replacing individuals as base of communications”
  • Aureli Valtat – Eurocontrol and Tweeting through the ash cloud: “Twitter is not just a push channel – interactivity is key”
  • Mark Comerford on Social Media & Journalism: “Everything is changing…and survival relies on being responsive to change”
  • Are you ready for the digital revolution?
  • Steve Seager on SEO: “Shameless blog promotion is ok!”
  • Suzanne Salvo of Salvo Photo on the accidental photographer: “show results, not the product”
Approaching things from a new angle - Mole Antonelliana - the landmark of Turin.

Approaching things from a new angle - Mole Antonelliana - the landmark of Turin.

So for EIA, we are in the middle of updating our website (in fact this conference could not have come at a better time) and there is much we can implement right away. From optimizing content, integrating more of our media (analogue & digital) and selecting powerful imagery that crosses the language barrier. Embracing the perception shift may take a little longer. But watch this space.

I will finish with the words of Mark Comerfor:

“if you want to reach me, you will have to reach my network”

Join EIA’s network on Twitter, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Vimeo.

I would like to add a personal thanks to board members of the IABC, especially Michael Ambjorn.

Sophia Cheng - Turin, Italy

Sophia Cheng


“NGO comms newbie”





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Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

Will Travers & Joanna Lumley

Last Thursday saw the culmination of months of work, events invariably incur high levels of stress in the lead up; Will everyone turn up? How will the auction go? And the big question, will we raise enough money to have made all the effort worthwhile?

It was indeed a labour of love and I am immensely proud to say, yes it was worth every moment spent in preparation, the mild hysteria during the day and the pain of putting my feet in heels for an extended period of time, we raised over £100,000 and we’re still totting up the figures!!! Once costs are accounted for the total will be split between the 3 NGO’s.

What made the evening such a success? I believe it was the collaborative dedication of all the people involved. I recall sitting in a small meeting room months ago with what was at the time just a group of like-minded people (and all strangers to me), Simon Clinton had a vision and his enthusiasm was infectious, he threw time, energy and brilliant people on board to move the project forward. The complementary nature of the three NGO’s involved led to a natural partnership and everyone got stuck in! Sourcing auction prizes, guests, venue, entertainment, wine and champers not to mention celebrities, all at minimal expense possible, is no easy task with the 3rd of March ever looming!

Then of course, there’s the food, I must confess, attending the tasting at the Mandarin Oriental stands out as a particular highlight. It was a tricky business deciding which of the exquisite five courses should be served to our 200 guests but I take pride in my thoroughness and ensured the final menu was a culinary delight.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

All the goody bags!

Another task delegated to EIA was the humble goody bag. Guests paying a hefty £300 expect a certain caliber within the tiger themed bag; clients of The Clinton Partnership generously contributed but where was the rest to come from? Two words. Cold calling. I have a deep-rooted fear of cold calling, is it just me? Perhaps it’s because I fear rejection, well no one likes to be dumped over the phone. Thankfully, after much personal procrastination the wonderful Café Direct and Lush jumped on the idea and generously donated 200 fabulous goodies, old EIA friends Iain Green and Laura Barwick did the same and my ego remained intact.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

The Thai Music Circle

And then the day itself, filling up the goody bags was executed with military position and table plans finalised. As soon as it hit 5.30 an army of people were on board to transform the room into an Asian paradise, whilst simultaneously transforming ourselves from shabby NGO staff to glamorous and elegant folk. The Thai Music Circle began to play, photographers from Hello and Ok were poised and the champagne was poured as the firsts guest arrived.

Show time.

My Asian roots led to me playing a role front of house, inspired by the idea to represent as many tiger range countries as humanly possible, it was a very novel honour to lead Buddhist monks from the Buddhapadipa temple through the tables of expecting guests to the stage to bless the tiger.

Tiger Gala. Credit Mike Daines

Virginia McKenna, Donal MacIntyre & Joanna Lumley

The celebrities had turned out, Donal MacIntyre did a fantastic job of hosting throughout the evening, alas Mr. Bailey did not make it but Joanna Lumley’s impromptu but powerful speech reminded everyone why they were there. I am in awe of the wonderful Nicholas Parsons, how he personally commanded the room full of, by this time, rather saturated guests. Extravagant auction prizes went to the highest bidder amidst plenty of cajoling from Mr. Parsons. The Malaysian drummers took people’s attention away from the food and to the stage, the fabulous Made Pujawati, captivated us with her Balinese tiger dance. Gauri’s dancers performed an exquisite Kathak dance, culminating in all artists sharing the stage, with a Chinese lion dance finale. It worked seamlessly, a shame it’s not mirrored politically.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAidBy midnight my ratio of strictly working vs. wine consumption tipped heavily towards the latter and I rested my sore feet satisfied that is was a job well done.

See The Londonist review of the night.

Something I am still in awe of is the generosity of individuals and companies despite the current age of austerity. Here are my hearty thanks to the following companies who contributed to our fantastic evening, Pangkor Laut Resort, Air Asia, Arsenal, Jacob’s Creek, Laurent-Perrier, Easter & Oriental Express, The Ritz-Carlton, Cowdray Park Polo Club, YTL Hotels, Land Rover, Twining, encounters asia, Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Thyme at Southdrop, Samara, Vintage Roots, Texture, Tiger Beer, Real Digital International, Café Direct, Tiger J’s Chocolate, theWildGarlic, Kit Digital, Chewton Glen.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

Liz Bonnin & other tiger friends.

To individuals I would like to thank, Betty Yao, Zehan Verden, Ralph Dixon, Jimmy Choo, Ching-He Huang, Bill Oddie, Simon Lycett, Ronni Ancona, Alistair McGowan, Gary Hodges, Iain Green, Laura Barwick, Frances Jarvis, Joanna Lumley, Donal MacIntyre, Nicholas Parsons, Christy Symington, Laura Lian, Chris Wright, Steve Cawston, Liz Bonnin, Virginia McKenna, Rob Murray.

To our entertainers, Gauri Sharma Tripathi and her dancers, Made Pujawati, Thai Music Circle, Lim’s Martial Arts and a special thank you to the monks from the Buddhapadipa Temple, London.

Tiger gala. Credit EIA

Sophia Cheng

Membership & Fundraising Officer

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Do any of you  remembers EIA’s awarding winning TV series “Animal Detectives” which was first shown on the UK  ITV network way back in 1995 and subsequently repeated on numerous cable channels since?  Well I started at EIA as a part time volunteer in 1994.  Needless to say our very cramped office in Pear Tree Court was a hive of activity.

EIA started back in 1984

Over the intervening years much of my time has been spent logging our income from our members and supporters.  Although EIA is a small charity keeping this information on filing cards has never been an option whilst I have been at EIA.  Keeping mailing addresses up to date is mundane but vitally important so we can communicate what we are doing and we know who is supporting this work.  Without the latter we would not have the funds for our ongoing investigations!  Our computer database has grown in complexity as time has gone by to try to ensure efficient use of time and resource eg the Gift Aid scheme that was introduced back in 1990 and greatly expanded in 2000.  Rather than having to calculate how much money we can claim back from HM Treasury our database records and automatically generates the figures we need with a few taps of the keyboard.

Can you help me?  Well yes in two ways:

Firstly, moving house is very stressful but please try to tell us your new address.  It might help you to look at your statements’ (bank and or credit card) or your cheque stubs to try to ensure you have not over looked us or any other charity.  Whenever we send information out I always receive a pile back with ‘gone away’ on it.

Secondly, if you want us to communicate with you differently, more, less or differently then please do get in touch eg you would like everything sent to by email or you would like us to stop using email and return to a paper format.

I know 2011 will be another very busy year for EIA.  So please check back from time to time to see what we have done  If you are a paying member of EIA I am sure the Spring edition of the Investigator magazine will be jam packed with investigations that you have helped to fund – thank you.

Philip Godfrey

Philip Godfrey

Supporter Services

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