The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unique strains on animal shelters and rescues this year. While pet adoptions experienced a massive upswing in the early months of the pandemic, the economic downturn has caused many adopted pets to be returned to shelters in recent months.
As a pet care business owner or business owner with a soft spot for animals, you’re probably still eager to help your local animal shelters or rescues, but might be unsure of how to conduct virtual fundraising events in the age of a pandemic. Even if you have a great idea for a fundraiser, parsing through all the available online fundraising tools can get overwhelming.
At Revelation Pets, we understand the desire to help animals, no matter the obstacles. While we primarily work to help pet care businesses simplify their management processes with dog and cat daycare software solutions, it’s also our goal to help empower animal lovers to care for underprivileged animals anywhere.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled five tips to boost your next online animal advocacy fundraiser and engage more supporters in your mission.
Consider these five methods to help reach your fundraising goal faster:
- Incorporate your donation page into your website.
- Embrace the power of social media.
- Sell fun merch.
- Host virtual pet-themed events.
- Encourage matching gifts.
1. Incorporate your donation page into your website.
To get supporters on board with your next virtual fundraiser for an animal-focused nonprofit, you need to provide a convenient donation page where people can give to your chosen cause without hassle.
Programs like Donately offer organizations the ability to create stylish, fully-customizable donation pages to maximize their fundraising capacity. Your donation page should be:
Intuitive and fully responsive to different devices. Ensure your donation page is easy to use, with a clearly defined series of prompts for users to quickly input their information. Additionally, make sure the text and images on your page are formatted to fit desktop, tablet, and mobile screens so anyone can access and comprehend your page from any device.
Compelling. Include a personal story explaining your reason for raising money for a particular animal-related cause. Maybe you adopted your own pet from the local shelter and that’s why you want to give back through this fundraiser, or you have a personal relationship with the manager or owner of the local animal rescue. Use these intimate details to show potential donors that their gifts are supporting real people and animals within the community.
Branded to your organization. Implement your business’ colors and logo into your donation page design to capitalize on the power of your name recognition in your local area.
A launch point for further opportunities for engagement. Ask donors if they’d like to receive further communications from your business about upcoming opportunities to get involved with animal advocacy to expand your impact outside of your initial fundraising event.
Be sure to embed your donation page on your business’ website. Sending donors out to a third-party website could cause confusion or hesitation to give. Host the donation page on your own website to reassure donors that their donation is going to the right place and their information will be secure.
2. Embrace the power of social media.
As the owner of a well-established business in your community, chances are you have a strong social media presence or the potential to grow a large following. Use the power of your social media pages to promote your animal-advocacy fundraiser.
Share your beautifully-designed donation page frequently on all of your social media platforms and encourage your followers to share the page with their own friends. Create and refresh a graphic of a fundraising thermometer to provide updates as you progress toward your fundraising goal. You can also create a hashtag for your animal fundraiser to generate interest and conversation.
Social media is also a great tool to access user-generated content that can enhance the emotional appeal of your animal-advocacy fundraiser. Ask your donors to share stories about their personal experiences with their own pets and how their lives were changed by their furry friends, and how that impacted their decision to donate.
As a pet care business owner or animal lover, you certainly understand the impact of sharing adorable puppy and kitten photos online—no one can resist the cuteness. Use this to your advantage and ramp up the adorable factor of your fundraiser to gain more online supporters.
Since pandemic-related shutdowns have caused in-person interactions to be replaced primarily with virtual interactions, social media is one of your greatest assets to connect with potential supporters and spread awareness of your animal-advocacy fundraising campaign.
3. Sell fun merch.
Similar to how it’s hard for people to resist liking or sharing a photo of a precious puppy wearing a sunhat, people are drawn to merchandise with animal imagery, too.
Have your team members submit ideas for a design to go on a T-shirt, hat, mug, or facemask. Choose the one that inspires the most delight among your staff and upload it to a platform such as Bonfire, a nonprofit fundraising platform that prints and ships merch directly to your donors.
Not only will your merchandise raise money for your fundraiser, but it will spread awareness of the cause when other people see your supporters wearing your merch and get curious about its origin. When people ask, “Where’d you get that cool shirt?” your supporters can describe your fundraiser and mission, spreading the word and hopefully garnering more donations.
If you’re worried people won’t want to spend money on merchandise, keep in mind that according to this guide about pet industry trends, pet owners spent $99 billion on their pets in 2020, and that number is only expected to grow in 2021. If animal lovers are willing to spend a good chunk of change on their own pets, it’s not a stretch to say they’ll be willing to pay for a mug with a pug on it, knowing the funds will help other animals in need.
4. Host pet-themed virtual events.
Consider hosting pet-themed virtual events to offer an enjoyable experience for supporters with a small entry fee that supports your animal-welfare focused fundraiser. Supporters will appreciate the fact that they can still participate in a fun, casual event to support local animals while staying coronavirus-compliant. Here are a few ideas for fun and engaging virtual pet events:
An animal-themed trivia night. Host a trivia night for animal lovers over Zoom or a similar video chat platform. Have people “buzz in” to answer by raising their hands or sending emojis in the live chat.
A pet costume contest. Ask your social media followers to send in photos of their pets decked out in costume. Allow people to “vote” with their dollars by including a section on your donation page where people can note their favorite pet photo. Offer a prize to the owner of the winning pet photo and announce the winner in a social media post.
A virtual dog training course. Host a live-streamed dog training lesson. In exchange for a donation, participants can follow along with their own pets at home.
5. Encourage matching gifts.
Throughout the duration of your online animal-welfare fundraiser, encourage your donors to ask if their employers offer matching gifts programs. In gift matching programs, corporations pledge to match a minimum to maximum amount donation made by their employees to eligible nonprofits.
A service like Double the Donation's matching gifts software allows donors to search if their donations are match-eligible and link out to any necessary matching gifts forms. Donors can literally double the impact of their initial donations to your cause by cashing in on these programs.
Use your fundraiser as an opportunity to spread awareness about matching gifts programs because even though these programs can make a major difference for nonprofit organizations, many people are unaware of their own eligibility for a match. Donors will be inspired to know that even during the pandemic, they can make an even greater impact on animal-welfare advocacy than they initially thought.
Just as the pandemic inspired you to rethink your pet care business or other business operations to set yourself up for success moving forward, retooling your virtual fundraising efforts now will set your future animal-focused fundraisers up for success. Plus, you can set an example for other philanthropic businesses in your area to follow your lead in online fundraising. Good luck and have fun!