Storytelling can generate the media coverage that will help nonprofits raise funds, especially when the subject is an incredibly cute endangered fox. The Catalina Island fox population had once been as low as 100, but it has rebounded to more than 1,700, thanks to the hard work of the Catalina Island Conservancy and its partners.
The increased fox population means more encounters with humans and human activities on Catalina Island, and those encounters pose dangers for the endearing endemic creatures. Last year, at least 21 Catalina Island foxes died because they were hit and killed by a vehicle. Four more died from human-related causes, including an attack by an unleashed dog. (Biologists believe many more deaths went undocumented because the foxes range across the 42,000 acres of Catalina’s wild lands, and their carcasses were never found.)
The Conservancy decided to launch a fundraising drive to replace trash cans because the food debris in the existing trash cans were luring the foxes to the roads and campgrounds where they were in harm’s way. The Conservancy is seeking funds to replace these older trash cans with animal-proof recycling and trash containers that will seal tightly closed, preventing the foxes’ access to the contents inside.
Telling this story to readers of the Conservancy’s magazine and sharing it with the media alerted supporters to this opportunity to help protect the fox by donating funds to purchase the new animal-proof recycling and trash containers. Generating media coverage also made the broader public aware, and the Conservancy relied on stories in numerous outlets – including the Los Angeles Times, KPCC and EarthTouch News – to help persuade supporters to donate to protect the fox. We also used this story-telling opportunity to develop a fox infographic that will be used to help educate youngsters and adults alike about the largest endemic land mammal on Catalina.