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Picture this: You enter your animal shelter where hopeful eyes greet you and furry friends eagerly await their chance at a forever home. Despite this heartwarming scene, you know that there’s hard work to be done behind the scenes to ensure that every tail is wagging, every belly is full, and every paw is cared for.

Running an animal shelter can be overwhelming, especially when you have limited time and resources. Thankfully, a well-executed fundraising campaign can help.

In this guide, we’ll explore four strategies for hosting an unforgettable fundraising campaign that provides you with the financial support you need to continue your life-changing work.

1. Set SMART Fundraising Goals

Goal setting should be the first step of any fundraising campaign, as it provides your team with a sense of direction.

A SMART fundraising goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When applied to fundraising, it ensures that your fundraising efforts are well-defined and realistic. Let’s break down what each element of a SMART fundraising goal means in the context of animal shelter fundraising:

  • Specific: Answer the who, what, where, and why of your campaign. For example, instead of a vague goal like “raise money for the animals,” a specific goal would be “raise $10,000 to provide a litter of puppies with life-saving medical treatment.”
  • Measurable: Include specific metrics that allow you to track your progress and determine when the goal has been achieved. In the example above, the fundraising amount of $10,000 is a measurable metric.
  • Achievable: Be realistic based on the resources, time, and capabilities available to you. Set a goal that challenges you but is not so ambitious that it becomes unattainable.
  • Relevant: Ensure that your fundraising efforts contribute to the larger mission you’re trying to achieve.
  • Time-bound: Set a specific deadline by which you plan to achieve the goal to add a sense of urgency and track progress. For instance, you may aim to raise the $10,000 within the next three months.

Regularly evaluate and adjust these goals as necessary throughout the campaign.

2. Diversifying Your Giving Options

Based on your objectives, you may choose to pursue crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, or a major campaign. Regardless, relying on monetary donations alone can be restrictive.

People have diverse giving preferences, so make the most of what your community has to offer, whether that be:

  • Monetary donations: Accept cash and checks at your facility in addition to offering online donation options through your website, social media channels, and email campaigns. 360MatchPro recommends promoting matching gifts through these online channels, so you can double your donations.
  • In-kind donations: Animal shelters have big supply needs, and donations of food, bedding, cleaning supplies, and toys can be just as good as the cash used to buy them. Publicize a detailed list of acceptable goods with collection details to ensure the in-kind donations meet your needs.
  • Volunteer time: People who aren’t able to contribute financially may be willing to contribute their time and skills to support your day-to-day needs. Create a volunteer sign-up system on your website, clearly outline the tasks and roles available, and provide training to ensure that volunteers can effectively contribute to your mission.

For the best results, use your database to segment donors based on their giving preferences and send targeted appeals that promote monetary giving, in-kind donations, or volunteering.

3. Partner with Local Businesses

Your animal shelter doesn’t have to fundraise alone. Serving alongside a for-profit business in what is known as a cross-sector partnership can provide your shelter with the resources and reach you need to achieve your fundraising goals.

To ensure a successful partnership, take the following steps:

  • Align values: Choose local businesses that share your animal shelter’s mission and values to create a genuine partnership. For example, a partnership between an animal shelter and a pet boarding business would be ideal because they share similar target audiences.
  • Provide mutual benefits: Offer incentives like increased brand visibility in return for their monetary or in-kind support, ensuring a win-win collaboration.
  • Ensure a creative collaboration: Brainstorm unique fundraising ideas that leverage the strengths of both your animal shelter and the local business.

Let’s say a dog grooming professional agrees to host a joint fundraising event with your shelter. The business offers its facility as the venue, providing ample space for your organization to showcase adoptable animals in a comfortable and welcoming environment. You, in turn, promote the event through social media and encourage your supporters to attend.

During the event, the business offers discounted services to attendees who adopt animals from the shelter. The incentive to adopt animals benefits your shelter, while the grooming business gains exposure among potential new customers.

4. Host Pet-Friendly Events

Attaching a compelling event to your fundraising campaign can boost your results. Here are a few examples of pet-friendly events that are sure to stand out to your supporters:

  • Adoption events with a twist: Organize adoption events where potential pet adopters can interact with the animals. Alongside the adoption process, incorporate fundraising elements such as donation stations, merchandise sales, or even sponsorship opportunities for specific animals.
  • Pet-focused walkathons or fun runs: Host a pet-friendly walkathon or fun run event where participants can bring their dogs for a community-oriented gathering. Charge an entry fee for participants and their pets and provide them with branded merchandise or certificates upon completion.
  • Pet-related expos and fairs: Host an exposition where pet industry professionals can gather to showcase new products, innovations, and trends. For instance, a dog daycare might host a seminar on how to use Gingr’s robust software to streamline operations. Charge an entrance fee and set up your own booth to showcase your rescue efforts, adoptable pets, and campaign information.

As you plan your event, ensure that it is in compliance with local regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of both the animals and attendees. This includes following guidelines for proper sanitation, vaccination requirements, leash laws, noise ordinances, and any other laws related to public safety.

Remember, fundraising isn’t just about collecting funds. It’s about building lasting connections and advocating for your cause. With dedication and a strategic approach, your fundraising campaign will make a profound impact on the lives of the animals you serve.

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