Sidmouth’s Donkey Sanctuary shares multi-million-pound fundraising vision

The Donkey Sanctuary's new restaurant

The Donkey Sanctuary's new restaurant - Credit: Archant

The Donkey Sanctuary’s vision to raise £50million a year by 2022 will benefit humans and animals alike.

Youngsters at The Donkey Sanctuary's new exhibition barn

Youngsters at The Donkey Sanctuary's new exhibition barn - Credit: Archant

The ambitions will take the charity into new territories, both literally and metaphorically, as it already has a presence in 40 countries.

Closer to home, its Sidmouth HQ has a new restaurant and a visitor centre that allows visitors to experience life from a donkey’s perspective more keenly than ever before.

Dawn Vincent, head of communications at the charity, said: “By having the exhibition area we can show people our work is vast and global, and it’s helping people as much as donkeys.

“We’ve had visitors who have been coming for years who have been completely wowed by what they’ve seen – they never realised how much we do.

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“Elisabeth started the first abroad project in Ethiopia in the 1970s, now we’re in 40 countries, although not necessarily directly.

“We’re attracting 320,000 people a year to the sanctuary, from humble beginnings of a few thousand. We couldn’t cater for the number of people coming in.

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“We’re trying to elevate donkeys and their importance in the world. We want to raise £50m a year by 2022. We always publish all of our accounts online – we’re totally transparent in how we generate money.

“Currently we need to raise £38m and we have to maintain that income. We want to reach as many donkeys as possible and identify the donkeys in greatest need.”

Dawn said the charity had never had a devoted emergency team to provide relief, for example when there was a huge earthquake in Nepal.

She added: “Without donkeys, they couldn’t rebuild their homes. There’s a real synergy between humanitarian aid and the role donkeys can have.

“Another really big issue is the rising demand for their skin. The demand is now for two million skins a year to get ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine. Two years ago, it wasn’t even on our radar. The situation is really complex.”

The Donkey Sanctuary recently had success lobbying eBay to stop the sale of ejiao products.

“On our doorstep there are donkeys coming in every week,” added Dawn. “We have more than 7,000 across our sites.

“The new attractions have opened in time for half-term. We’re also developing a harness room to show the weight donkeys carry.”

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