RSPB is asked: where’s the birds?

Avocet web

​Spending questions posed ahead of society's AGM

Graham Martin's photo

24th October 2014 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Feathers are flying after a conservation charity was asked: where’s the birds?

Campaigners want the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to be investigated, demanding to know what the organisation spends its annual £122 million income on and where the cash actually goes.

Questions are being posed by a new campaign group fronted by cricket legend Sir Ian Botham called You Forgot The Birds.

Ahead of the UK-wide charity’s annual AGM on Saturday, 25 October, it is asking the English and Welsh Charity Commission regulator to investigate how money is spent.

However, the RSPB angrily denied the allegations, claiming they are "politically motivated".

While parts of the RSPB do much good, overall it has become the great vampire squid of the charity world, hoovering up conservation funds

The RSPB’s website homepage promises the charity’s 1.1 million donors that that “90p in every pound goes directly towards our conservation work.”

However, the new group says the RSPB’s own accounts show that only 24% of its income goes on running its nature reserves.

The other 76% of its income, it claims, is being spent on fundraising (26%), research, education, political lobbying and PR (40%), and other administration (10%).  

Campaigners, who include TV presented Sir Johnny Scott, say the perception that most of the RSPB’s income goes on conservation is encouraged by both its 90p pledge and its slogan of “Giving Nature A Home”.  

Martyn Howat, former Director of Natural England, said: “While parts of the RSPB do much good, overall it has become the great vampire squid of the charity world, hoovering up conservation funds on the premise that it’s going into creating homes for birds. It’s creating homes for office workers instead.”

You Forgot The Birds said it has not seen any evidence of fraud or excessive executive pay among RPSB executives.

It said the campaign's website,, will be raising a series of questions about the RSPB’s conduct.

The criticisms come after a major figure on the ornithology scene questioned the society’s spending priorities.

As exclusively revealed in TFN, Dominic Mitchell, editor of Birdwatch magazine, criticised the RSPB’s focus focus on growing membership and the amount of cash spent doing so.

He also lambasted “cringeworthy” and expensive TV ads featuring a red squirrel called Bob – which don’t even mention the RSPB.

RSPB Scotland's James Reynolds said: “The RSPB categorically refutes the claims made by You Forgot the Birds. The RSPB stands by its claim in our publicly available 2012/13 annual review that 89p of every pound goes to our charitable purposes.

“The group wilfully misrepresents what is involved in conserving wildlife, by creating the myth that it should be restricted solely to nature reserves. The RSPB has a long and proud tradition of standing up for wildlife and, from the outset, has campaigned for laws that protect wildlife and their enforcement, decades before we established our first nature reserve.
“As clearly set out in our annual accounts, nature conservation includes everything needed to save nature, both on our own land and elsewhere.

“For example, we also spend money on groundbreaking science, providing advice to thousands of people and businesses every year and bringing wildlife into the lives of children.

“We welcome public scrutiny of our accounts, which are freely available via our website. The question posed in the opinion poll was based on a gross and wilful misrepresentation of our work. We question whether this campaign is related to the strong stance that the RSPB takes on contentious conservation issues, such as wildlife crime, and is therefore politically motivated.

“We consider this to be a flagrant attempt to mislead the public and will consider legal action if this view is perpetuated.”

28th October 2014 by Charlie Moores

Are you no longer required to exercise some sort of critical thinking when you write articles here? These 'campaigners' are all shooting industry loobyists angered that the RSPB are finally investigating the environmental destruction and wildlife crimes committed in the name of fieldsports. And if you know that, shouldn't you have at least mentioned that fact?