Paper No. 87
Presentation Time: 6:30 AM
THE CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION, GALÁPAGOS: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING FINANCIAL STABILITY THROUGH PUBLIC OUTREACH
We investigated the current state of outreach efforts at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) to assess how outreach might be modified so as to increase donations from tourists. The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) has been supporting conservation efforts in the Galapagos since 1959. Although the CDF receives financial support from multilateral organizations, major foundations, and other partners, individual donations are also a critical source of money for supporting day-to-day operating expenses. Unfortunately, the CDF has recently experienced financial instability. Most of the public’s exposure - and thereby their reason to donate - to the CDF occurs at the CDRS on Santa Cruz Island. Even though the CDRS primarily consists of administrative and science buildings that are not open to the public, the research station is visited daily by tourists and tour guides who are traveling along the trail to and from neighboring Galápagos National Park Service attractions, such as a well-known tortoise breeding center. We undertook a multi-method study to gauge tourists’ understanding of the CDF’s mission, research projects, and outreach efforts. During 2012, we monitored current outreach activities, conducted a one-week-long trial outreach program, and collected quantitative and qualitative survey data. In January, 2013, we interviewed selected CDF staff and scientists to obtain their insights on factors surrounding public outreach. We also obtained Facebook statistics for the CDF to analysis the impact of social networking on their public outreach. Our findings indicate that the public outreach program has been in decline since 2007; the CDF has not invested significantly in its fundraising capacity, and has missed numerous opportunities both in the Galapagos and online. We recommend that the CDF adopt a set of priorities related to its public image to restore financial stability: 1. Expand its online presence using social media and its primary website; 2. Reestablish its previously strong relationship with non-affiliated tour guides who lead tourists through the CDRS campus on the way to the nearby tortoise breeding center in the Galápagos National Park; and, 3. Invest in infrastructure and on-site outreach activities.