For animal rescues and shelters, fundraising is an integral part of running an animal welfare organization. Some people thrive on fundraising, while others abhor it and view 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 to attract attention.
What was missing? There was no emotional connection; no explanation as to why my donation would make any measurable impact, and certainly no way for me to see the change that my donation would make if I donated on an ongoing basis.
Get Creative with Your Fundraising Ideas!
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 this article from Maddie’s Fund. They interviewed Julie Barger, the Director of Development at Lynchburg Humane Society, and got some great fundraising ideas, as well as tips that you can apply when brainstorming and planning your next fundraiser.
All of those great ideas are focused around the same thing—engaging your animal rescue donors and connecting them with your organization, which is a huge 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 build an emotional connection and ignite some spark within them that might inspire them to become a new volunteer or supporter.
We’ve also discussed the goal of turning people into recurring subscribers as opposed to one-time donors. So regardless of the type of event that you’re doing, what are the keys to maximizing the amount of funds 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?
But 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. You’ll need to 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.