APOPO: HeroRAT rat adop­tion programme

Exhibited by
January 07, 2014
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
May, 2005.

SOFII’s view

The following is a story of passion: the passion of a young boy for his many pets. All of them rodents. And his passion for Africa. When he grew into adulthood he used his knowledge of his pet rats to develop the technology to train rats to detect deadly land mines and tuberculosis. And now the HeroRAT adoption campaign is showing us that these often disliked creatures can indeed make the world a better place for thousands of people.


Name of exhibitor

Brock Warner, donor programmes officer, War Child

To acquire new monthly donors for APOPO by asking the public to ‘adopt’ a HeroRAT for a minimum of €5 per month.


HeroRAT is a great example of using a fun way to raise money for a deathly serious issue. APOPO is training African giant pouched rats to detect land mines and tuberculosis. The training takes about nine months, so it’s a labour intensive process.

HeroRATs are trained by APOPO to save lives and limbs, by using their exceptional sense of smell to sniff out unexploded landmines and tuberculosis. They are the true heroes behind APOPO’s mission working together with their human colleagues to create a safer world and inspire social change. 

Special characteristics

Adopters of a HeroRAT receive an official HeroRAT adoption certificate, an introductory letter from the chosen rat and a quarterly update – from the HeroRAT, of course. Adopters also have a personalised ‘myapopo’ wall, where they receive badges as their rat progresses and can see what impact their rat has when it becomes operational.


Total income from the HeroRAT public campaign in 2012 was €241,246.


While the use of a sponsorship model is not innovative, I’ve submitted HeroRAT to SOFII because it’s a strong example of how the line between fundraising mechanisms and communication strategies can be blurred for great effect. I believe that too often, mass-fundraising strategies lack a strong connection to the work that a charity is doing and why they are doing it. Great fundraising should deepen a donor’s understanding and sensitivity to your cause and HeroRAT is a wonderful example of how that can be executed.