For the Birds

The Great Wisconsin BirdathonThe state’s leading bird conservation organizations encourage Friends Group organizations to use the online Great Wisconsin Birdathon as an easy and engaging tool for fundraising and friend-raising. They established this annual event in 2012 to help create a rising tide of support for Wisconsin’s birds and those who work on their behalf.
The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin processes all Birdathon donations and sends each participating organization 50% of the funds they raise. The balance supports eight statewide bird conservation projects through the Bird Protection Fund.
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon website – www.WIBirdathon.org – is now open for business. Birding teams can conduct their Birdathon during any portion of a 24-hour period from April 15 – June 15.
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is more about fun and education, and less about competition. It is also a nice way to survey bird use of state parks, natural areas and wildlife areas; attract new people to the cause; and create an interesting story for media attention.
Here are the simple instructions for conducting a Birdathon:

  1. Form a team (or teams) of one or more people. Come up with a creative name and pick a date for your Birdathon.
  2. Set up a team page at WIBirdathon.org. People will go there to read about your Birdathon plans and to pledge or donate.
  3. Complete the organization information form in the Participant Kit and mail it to the Birdathon Coordinator.
  4. Direct your members, contacts, and community to go to your team page to either pledge per species or donate a set amount.
  5. Do your Birdathon!
  6. Report your results on your team page and submit your checklist to the Birdathon Coordinator.
  7. Thank your donors and keep them connected to your organization year-round.
The Birdathon does all the rest! They handle all the money and record-keeping. You receive a check from them for half of your proceeds. You also retain a spreadsheet of your donor contact information that you access through your team page. Your donors will receive a monthly Bird News You Can Use e-newsletter from the Birdathon year-round.
Madison Audubon Society has raised $5,000-$10,000 through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon annually by getting up to 10 teams out at various properties. They do a friendly competition between teams to make it fun. The Faville Grove team found several new species at their property that had not been reported there before, so this annual snapshot of bird presence has conservation value, as well.
A 4-H member in Mt. Horeb does her annual Birdathon from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday, taking a break to sleep. She invites friends and family over for a celebratory barbecue lunch on Sunday, and has presented her Birdathon findings at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Be as ambitious and creative as you want to be. Your team page allows for social media, photos, blogs, you name it. Have fun!
Questions? Peruse the Great Wisconsin Birdathon website and find the Organizational Fundraising tab. Contact Birdathon Coordinator Diane Packett at diane.packett@wisconsin.gov for more information.