Collectively, the world watches cat videos hundreds of millions of times each month on YouTube. A U.K.-based nonprofit wants to put those kittens to use: Each time someone views a cat video on their new channel, the ad proceeds will go to support tiger conservation.
"Cat videos are the online phenomenon of our time, with over 35 billion views to date and counting," says Simon Clinton, founder of Save Wild Tigers. "We’re obsessed with them. When you put this number beside the number of tigers left in the wild, a mere 3,200, we thought it was an alarming reflection on where our priorities lie."
Enlisting cats to help big cats is also a way to involve a younger generation that tends to donate less to charity in traditional ways. "Today, [people] would rather support brands that do good rather than donate their hard-earned dollars toward a cause," says Clinton. "Small change donations have become near obsolete, so charities need to adapt."
The funds raised by ad views will support campaigns that help reduce demand for tiger products in countries such as China and Vietnam, undercover investigations into the wildlife trade, and lobbying for better regulations.
People can also help by uploading their own cat videos to the nonprofit's website, called The Kitty, so that the ad revenue can go directly to a tiger fund. "We’re also giving content makers—which is pretty much everyone with a smartphone—their own platform to collectively do something that will benefit the planet," he says. "If we can harness or own the long tail of cat videos on YouTube, we can generate significant and ongoing funds for wild tiger preservation."
If all of the cat video views on YouTube so far had raised money for conservation, the nonprofit estimates that they would have added up to more than $350 million—enough, in theory, to save an animal from extinction in the wild.
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