The BBC Wildlife Fund was one of the BBC’s corporate charities. It was set up in 2007, inspired by one of the jewels in the BBC crown, the Natural History Unit (NHU). After years of producing outstanding films of wildlife throughout the world, bringing the glorious diversity of life into our living rooms and at the same time witnessing alarming declines in the populations of many of the animals filmed, the NHU wanted to address the plight of wildlife. Audiences enjoying BBC natural history programmes were at the same time growing increasingly concerned at the alarming decline in wildlife.
The BBC Wildlife Fund carried out its first live fundraising appeal 'Saving Planet Earth' in 2007. £1.8 million was raised on the night and this was added to by donations throughout the year. The second broadcast appeal in 2010 raised a further almost £1.2million and donations were disbursed through grants to programmes with a track record of saving species.
80% of grants were to UK charities working to conserve wildlife outside the UK and 20% to UK charities working on projects at home.
In the summer of 2011, the BBC Wildlife Fund Trustees learnt that, following the two broadcast appeals, the BBC would not be able to support such appeals in the future. After researching alternative models, this decision by the BBC ultimately led the BBC Wildlife Fund Trustees to decide to wind down the fund. All donation mechanisms were closed and, wherever possible, regular donors were contacted. During the wind-down period, any donations still received were passed to existing grantee organisations.
The BBC Wildlife Fund ceased operations in December 2012, for formal closure in March 2013.