Animal fundraisers are an opportunity for animal shelters, advocacy groups, and pet-affiliated businesses to create a memorable experience for supporters and improve the lives of animals in need. But to make a significant impact, you need a narrowly-focused campaign and access to ample resources.
Luckily, there are several fundraising strategies that can set you on the right path. In this guide, we’ll provide four tips to help you host an animal fundraiser that garners attention, connects with donors, and makes an impact.
1. Choose a fundraiser that appeals to your audience.
For the greatest impact, your animal fundraiser should appeal to the interests and preferences of your target audience. Consider how high-value donors have engaged with your fundraising campaigns in the past. Did they show greater interest in online giving or in-person events? Review the following popular animal fundraisers and consider which of them would attract the greatest number of your target supporters:
- Sponsor-a-pet fundraiser: Encourage supporters to make small, recurring donations to serve an animal that has been in the shelter for an extended period of time or requires medical treatment. In return, send pet sponsors photos of the animal and updates about the impact of their gift.
- Pet-related merchandise sales: Sell branded merchandise, such as dog bowls, cat toys, and pet grooming products, and have a portion of the proceeds go towards your fundraiser.
- Classes and workshops: Your organization likely has staff and volunteers with expert knowledge and training in animal-related causes. Ask these experts to host a class or workshop, such as Dog Training 101, in which participants pay a fee to participate.
- Cutest pet content: Charge supporters a small fee to enter your cutest pet contest and ask them to submit a photo of their pet via email, your website, or your social media channels. Then, host an awards ceremony at a local venue where participants can gather together.
There are countless other animal fundraisers that you could use to inspire support for your cause. Just be sure to choose a fundraising campaign that aligns with your budget and makes the most sense for your mission.
2. Partner with a local business.
If you don’t have the resources to effectively host a fundraiser on your own, you might benefit from partnering with a local business to host a joint fundraising event or campaign. With their additional support, you can host a memorable fundraiser on a tight budget and connect with the supporters and customers of your partner, providing new exposure for your cause.
To ensure a successful partnership, it’s important to choose an organization that shares similar values to your organization. Reach out to prospective businesses and ask detailed questions about who their customers are, what they expect to get out of a partnership, and how they would be willing to contribute to the fundraiser.
An example of a mutually beneficial partnership would be an animal shelter teaming up with a pet training business to host an adopt-a-pet fundraiser. The organizations share a similar target audience, in this case, animal enthusiasts, and would therefore benefit from co-hosting a fundraiser that showcases both of their services.
Once you’ve identified an ideal partner, set clear expectations about how they can support your fundraiser. In addition to contributing financially to your fundraiser, a for-profit business may provide:
- In-kind donations: Even if a business doesn’t have the funds available to donate to your fundraiser, they may be able to donate extra supplies or let you use their space to host the event.
- Free publicity: Businesses can extend their brand recognition and supporter base to your organization.For example, if you partnered with a local dog groomer to host an event at their storefront, they could use their dog grooming software to share the event details with their database of customers.
- Volunteer support: A business might encourage their staff to volunteer their time to support your fundraiser, whether that be in the form of taking care of animals or checking in attendees at an event.
That said, remember that partnerships are a two-way street. When soliciting support from local businesses, explain what they’ll receive in return. For instance, your organization may agree to display a company’s merchandise at your fundraising event or include their branding on your promotional materials.
3. Create a personal fundraising page.
Having a streamlined, intuitive fundraising page on your website inspires users to give and simplifies the donation process for everyone involved. To create an effective fundraising page, ensure it includes these essentials:
- Campaign information: Get specific about the details of your campaign, so supporters know how their donations will make an impact. For instance, you might include a statement at the top of the page that states, “Our goal is to raise $5,000 before the cold winter months arrive, so we can provide shelter, food, and medical care to the stray animals in our community.”
- Donation forms: Gingr’s guide to payment processing suggests using an integrated payment processor to embed donation forms directly onto your fundraising page. These forms should reduce transaction time, collect and store donor data, and have security measures in place that keep sensitive financial information safe.
- Matching gift information: Partner with a matching gifts database to identify donors who work for companies that match their charitable contributions. According to matching gift statistics from 360MatchPro, 1 in 3 donors gives a larger gift when they know that a match will be applied to their donation. This means your organization will not only receive a larger donation but that amount could then be doubled by a corporate match.
- Automated “thank you” messages: Configure your donation page to immediately direct donors to a thank you page when they make a gift. This acknowledgment goes a long way in building stronger donor relations.
Keep in mind that your fundraising page should be optimized for mobile use. Implement accessible design practices that automatically resize text, images, and donation buttons according to the size of a user’s screen. Doing so will encourage supporters to learn more about your fundraiser and get involved from wherever they are.
4. Adopt a multichannel marketing strategy.
If you want more people to know about your animal fundraiser, consider adopting a multichannel approach to marketing. Multichannel marketing uses several different communication channels to reach a wider audience and increase the chances that they’ll receive your appeal and lend their support.
To get started, leverage a combination of the following communication channels:
- Website: Your organization’s website should be central to your fundraising and outreach efforts. Drive traffic to online resources, such as your fundraising page, donation form, and event registration information, by linking to them across all of your other marketing channels.
- Direct mail: Sending physical invitations, flyers, and letters can result in high response rates. Just be sure to include QR codes on these deliverables, so recipients can access your website and social media channels with a simple scan.
- Email: Email is a simple and inexpensive way to engage with supporters. Write a compelling subject line, such as, “You can save a puppy today,” to ensure that your message doesn’t fall into the spam or trash folder.
- Social media: Social media allows you to reach and engage supporters on platforms where they spend a considerable amount of time, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Share photos and short videos of your furry friends, and include information about your fundraiser in the caption.
With multiple touchpoints, you have a better chance of reaching your target audience on their preferred platform and driving traffic to your fundraising page.
Animal fundraisers require extensive planning and close attention to detail. But, when done correctly, these campaigns can drive meaningful support for your cause and allow you to continue what you do best: improve the lives of animals.