Effective Fundraising for Animal Rescues and Shelters

Fundraising for animal rescues and shelters is an integral part of running an animal welfare organization. Some people thrive on fundraising, and others abhor it as a difficult but necessary requirement. But be that as it may, what makes some organizations more successful than others at raising funds to sustain their operations?

Many of the fundraisers for animal rescues and shelters that I have attended over the years focused solely on soliciting as many funds as possible. Their booth had a banner with the organization name, a jar for cash donations, and perhaps an animal or two there to attract attention.

But there was no emotional connection, no explanation of why my donation would make any measurable impact, and certainly no way for me to see the impact of my donation on an on-going basis.

There are a lot of great resources out there with ideas for fundraisers that have been successful for other organizations. One of my favorites is Animal Shelter Tips and they have some super creative ideas that change the status quo of animal rescue events.

All of those great ideas are focused around the same thing – engaging your animal rescue donors and connecting them with your organization is part of making your fundraising efforts more successful. That’s why we’ve talked in other articles about articulating the “Why I Rescue” when interacting with people in order to share your emotional connection and ignite some spark within them that might turn them into a new volunteer. We’ve also discussed the goal of turning people into recurring subscribers as opposed to one-time donors. So regardless of what the type of event that you’re doing, what are the keys to maximizing the amount you bring in?

  1. Focus your message – Is your fundraiser an annual event to fund the overall animal rescue or shelter, or is it for a specific purpose? As a general rule, people like to give to a specific, measurable purpose more than the general fund. This is because they want to feel a connection that the money they are donating is contributing to something that they can see. Even if your intent is to raise annual funds to run the rescue all year, there are some things you can do to connect your donors to your message. For example, if part of what you are raising funds for is to buy bags of food for the animals, bridge the connection with the prospective donor and tell them that $X will buy X bags of food that will feed X specific animals for a period of X time. This helps the donor to make an emotional connection that their specific contribution is creating a specific impact.
  2. Think perpetually – We’ve talked about it before, but getting donors to contribute on a regular schedule rather than one-time is a huge opportunity for your organization. Using our previous example, if they donate each month, they’ll feed even more animals right? How can you quantify that for them? How do you make them feel appreciated for doing this? Perhaps if they sign up for a recurring donation you have a certificate that says they saved #X animals? People love recognition. Or even a T-shirt from your organization that recognizes them as a perpetual donor. Think creatively here.
  3. Create an experience – Building on the first two suggestions, remember that overall you’re creating a donation experience for the person. You want them to walk away with a good feeling in their heart knowing that they helped in a specific and measurable way. You want them to feel special, that THEIR contribution was the one that mattered most to you.

Do you have ideas that you can share that worked? Or maybe some lessons learned on things NOT to try.

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