Explore these top pet business fundraising ideas to support causes in your area.

Using Your Pet Business to Fundraise: 9 Ideas to Give Back 

As the owner of a pet care business, whether that be a grooming or boarding service, you and your employees likely have a passion for the health and safety of animals. However, providing top-quality care to your customers’ pets is just a small piece of the broader animal welfare puzzle.

While some 4.1 million shelter animals are adopted annually, more than 6 million animals enter these shelters each year. These organizations, and the dogs and cats they are committed to protecting, are in constant need of supplies, funding, and volunteers.

Your business is in the perfect position to support shelters and rescues by implementing internal CSR programs, engaging the community, and spreading awareness of organizations in need. In this guide, we’ll cover some ideas that can help you get started.

1. Start a crowdfunding campaign.

A crowdfunding campaign involves collecting small donations from a wide audience, generally through social media or other online platforms. While nonprofits can organize these campaigns on their own, it’s common for individuals and organizations to crowdfund on behalf of a specific cause.

To get started, choose a nonprofit to support, create a donation page on a crowdfunding website, and share the campaign with your followers. Make sure to include information about the nonprofit, its mission, and a link to its website on your donation page.

Reach out to the nonprofit to see if there is a specific need or initiative that they need funding for. Then, highlight the specific reason you are fundraising on your donation page. For example, these scenarios might warrant a crowdfunding campaign:

  • A nearby animal shelter needs to build an additional wing to accommodate rising numbers of shelter animals.
  • A rescue group needs funding to pay for vaccinations, food, formula, and spay/neuter procedures during kitten season.
  • One of your customers can’t afford an expensive surgery procedure for their beloved pet.

You can also encourage your followers to make in-kind donations so organizations don’t have to take the time to go shopping. Create or share an online wishlist of the supplies the nonprofit needs and urge your followers to buy a blanket, bag of food, or toy for an animal in need.

2. Launch a #GivingTuesday fundraiser.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that occurs each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It’s a recognized, highly-anticipated, and successful annual event that capitalizes on the year-end giving spirit.

If you (like most business owners) are new to nonprofit fundraising, Giving Tuesday can be a good way to dip your toes into the water since there’s already a general structure in place. Giving Tuesday campaigns allow passionate supporters to serve as ambassadors. Reach out to the nonprofit you want to support and ask them to help you create a page in support of their organization. Add a picture of your logo as the profile picture, make a donation yourself, add a brief story about why you support the cause, and share the campaign!

If you aren’t ready to create your own Giving Tuesday campaign, you can create a small marketing campaign to boost local nonprofits’ campaigns. This extra publicity will help expand the campaign’s reach and can make a big difference in revenue.

3. Start a matching gift program.

A matching gift program is typically part of a business’s larger corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. With these programs, businesses match the contributions that their employees make to eligible organizations. Often, businesses have minimum and maximum gift size requirements and may place restrictions on the kinds of organizations they donate to.

In addition to supplying organizations with double the funding they would ordinarily receive, Re:Charity’s guide to corporate philanthropy outlines these key benefits for corporations:

  • A positive reputation in the community
  • Increased employee engagement
  • A stronger sense of community

To ensure that employees take advantage of your matching gift program, spread awareness for it. For instance, you might share a step-by-step guide for submitting a matching gift request with employees and include it in your onboarding materials, office handbook, and any communications requesting donations to a fundraiser.

4. Organize a dog walk fundraiser.

Dog walks are similar to traditional walk-a-thon fundraisers in which participants walk a certain distance for a good cause. During a dog walk, you get the furry friends involved!

To fundraise, simply charge a registration fee to participants or follow a pledge fundraising model in which participants collect pledge donations from their friends and family. You’ll need to plan a route for the dog walk, complete with starting and finish lines. Make sure to have a team of volunteers to assist you with set up and tear down as well as manning water stations (for both humans and dogs!).

To maximize revenue, you’ll need to leverage your business’s contacts, share about the event through your marketing channels, and get the community involved. Don’t forget that your customer base is a great place to start—after all, they are pet owners who would probably love to support an animal welfare organization. Using pet business software like Gingr, you can reach out to customers in your database by leveraging built-in marketing tools.

5. Create a “sponsor a pet” program for a local shelter.

In a “sponsor a pet” program, your business will encourage supporters to make a recurring monthly donation to a local shelter. This donation is meant to fill the needs of a single pet by providing food, shelter, medical procedures, and vaccinations.

First, you’ll need to work with a local shelter to secure names and pictures of animals at their shelter. For example, maybe they have a black cat named Wanda who is the mother of a litter of kittens. A donor might choose to sponsor Wanda with a monthly donation of $50, paying for her food, blankets, litter, vaccines, and medication for an eye infection. Over the months, the shelter sends updates about how Wanda is doing and eventually lets the donor know she’s been adopted.

Choosing fundraising ideas that directly benefit your local community can be highly effective. Donors will see the positive impact they are making on local organizations firsthand—and who knows, they may even be inspired to adopt!

6. Make in-kind donations to local organizations.

As we mentioned earlier, many organizations need supplies in addition to funding. Consider donating high-demand pet care items to shelters and rescues, such as:

  • Dog and cat food for a variety of ages and needs (e.g., wet food for puppies or hairball control food for cats)
  • Blankets and towels
  • Pet beds
  • Food and water bowls
  • Grooming equipment
  • Leashes and collars
  • Litter boxes, litter, and scoops
  • Toys
  • Offering free services
  • The opportunity to use your facilities for an event (e.g., holding a charity dog wash at your grooming facility)

To collect these items, consider purchasing them in bulk from a wholesale company to stretch your buying power further. If you have extra, unused items, like grooming products or equipment, consider donating these as well. To get your customers and employees involved, set up a donation box at your facility and encourage them to bring in the items local organizations need most.

7. Ask your employees for ideas.

Asking employees for fundraising ideas is an effective way to engage them in opportunities that help them feel more fulfilled and connected to the local community.

Consider using tools like employee engagement software to create surveys that ask questions like:

  • What nonprofit organizations and causes are you most passionate about?
  • What types of fundraisers would you like to see our business participate in?
  • What are some effective fundraising campaigns you’ve seen that convinced you to donate?
  • What level of involvement would you like to have in our fundraising initiatives (e.g., volunteering at events, donating, no involvement, etc.)?

When you launch fundraisers that employees are excited about, they’ll be much more likely to get involved and drive your initiatives toward success. By engaging employees directly in your charitable efforts, they’ll know that you value their input and interests.

8. Run a pet calendar sale.

When it comes to calendars, pets are one of the most popular themes. Who wouldn’t want to see an adorable animal each month?

Gather some photos of pets in your area to build a pet calendar. The pets can either be your business’s clients or adoptable animals from a local animal shelter. For example, your dog daycare might snap photos of its regulars or puppies on their first visit. To connect those who purchase the calendar with the pet, consider adding the dog’s name, their favorite treats and toys, and a short description of their background.

Print and sell your calendars online or on location at your business. Make it clear that sales will benefit a specific nonprofit organization and provide some information about the organization’s mission.

9. Donate a percentage of sales.

During a percentage fundraiser, your business pledges to donate a percentage of all sales made within a specified timeframe to a nonprofit. For example, you might donate 5% of all sales made during a three-day weekend event to a cat rescue in your town.

This is a simple way to incorporate fundraising into your business’s regular activities. Promote your percentage fundraiser ahead of time to boost foot traffic by encouraging charitably-minded customers to visit your store during the campaign.

Just because your pet business is a for-profit company doesn’t mean that you can’t invest in the community. Corporate social responsibility is on the rise, and consumers care now more than ever before that businesses commit to social good. With these fundraising ideas, build a strong reputation for your business and support animals in need at the same time.

Learn how direct mail and crowdfunding can work well together.

3 Ways Direct Mail Can Support Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is a transformative strategy that can be used to harness the power of a large network or group and garner support. 

A crowdfunding campaign is typically hosted when an individual or group needs to raise money for an important cause in a limited time span. Some common examples of causes include medical expenses, nonprofit funds, political campaigns, and even animal welfare missions. 

Once you’ve solidified your cause, you’ll want to select a platform that best meets your fundraising needs. Then, you’ll begin raising awareness and promoting your fundraiser. There are quite a few channels you can use to market your campaign. The most generic route is to utilize digital marketing, but sometimes choosing other channels, like direct mail, can provide for a pleasant and powerful alternative. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can utilize direct mail as a marketing tool to spread the word about your crowdfunding campaign. Here are three specific ways that direct mail can support your virtual efforts:

  1. Get the word out about your campaign.
  2. Break through the digital clutter.
  3. Build long-term donor relationships.

Leveraging the power of direct mail is a unique way to promote your campaign, which can lead to increased awareness and immense engagement. But first, let’s answer a common question nonprofits have about direct mail: is direct still a viable marketing method and can it benefit their outreach strategy?

Is direct mail worthwhile for nonprofits?

Before launching a direct mail campaign, nonprofits need to determine if traditional mail will be worth the return on the investment. Compared to email and social media, direct mail can get expensive with built-in costs for printing and postage. 

However, direct mail is far from dead as reports from nonprofit research show:

The graphic shows five statistics related to direct mail, written out below.

Of course, whether direct mail benefits your crowdfunding campaign depends on how your nonprofit approaches this marketing channel. Personalize your content, make sure your letters seem trustworthy, and have your online donation page ready to go after mailing out your fundraising appeals. 

1. Get the word out about your campaign

Your direct mail should bring awareness to your virtual campaign and encourage donors to get involved. If you implement this correctly, not only will it create another channel of communication between your organization and your supporters, but it will also raise engagement due to the multi-faceted marketing approach. 

The first step in using direct mail to support your campaign is to leverage your existing donors. If you have carried out direct mail campaigns (or just about any other fundraiser) in the past, you should have donor profiles from existing supporters who already give to your organization. These individuals should be targets for your campaign, making sure they’re aware of your ongoing virtual efforts as well. 

After talking to existing supporters, make sure that your direct mail is also used as a way to follow up and thank top donors for their contributions to your campaign. If you include personal touches like their name and donation amount, it may even encourage them to donate again!

If you implement direct mail to complement your existing marketing efforts, your donors will become more engaged with your overall campaign. This shouldn’t be different than any other marketing campaign for your organization. After all, you already know that direct mail is still one of the most effective marketing channels for nonprofit organizations, so you’d be remiss to leave it out of your crowdfunding strategy.

2. Break through the digital clutter

One of the most sought-after commodities is your supporters’ engagement and attention. They are pulled left and right by competitors and other distractions—especially when it comes to online engagement. So how can you avoid this? Well, the easiest answer is by engaging with them from outside the digital realm by implementing direct mail in your marketing efforts.

This may seem counterintuitive because crowdfunding is a largely virtual phenomenon, so why would you want to pull your donors away from the computer? The answer lies in grabbing their attention. This is where you have to get creative to implement powerful engagement techniques such as personalized letters and calls to action for your donor. 

If you execute a successful direct mail campaign and nail your fundraising ask, you are likely going to rekindle a sense of engagement with your donor. They will not look at your campaign as “another digital ad” but instead a personalized call to action, asking them to contribute to your campaign. This will not only lead to higher engagement but may also lead to increased generosity and a long term relationship with your donor. 

3. Build long-term donor relationships

Speaking of long-term supporter relationships, a direct mailing is more personal than a social media share, and donors will feel more inclined to get involved with your organization in the long run when you put extra effort in. 

Now that we know why we need to use direct mail to support our crowdfunding campaign, the next step is to garner retention with your donors to keep them coming back time and time again. There are three main strategies to begin to build long term relationships and improve donor retention:

  • Relate the donation to the mission. When writing your direct mail appeals, make sure to include a clear and compelling mission statement. If your mission is clear, it provides your donor with a tangible idea of where their money is going. Plus, it allows your donors to feel a deeper connection to the overall mission and vision of your organization. 
  • Attach each donation with its direct impact. Going a few steps further, you can even communicate the exact dollar amount of a donation with its tangible aspect. Supporting impoverished children is great, but supplying a student with nutritious lunches for a week with a $15 gift is better. In clearly describing their impact, you share the success of their donation with them. This creates a sense of connection between you and your donor and encourages supporters to continue giving to make a difference.
  • Express gratitude. Thanking donors should be as important as asking for gifts. After all, showing appreciation is one of the easiest ways to keep them engaged with your organization. It’s also an opportunity to provide an update or remind them of the impact their donation made. This way, they remember the donation and may consider making another one because you made them feel appreciated and a part of your mission. 

Direct mail can immensely improve your donor relationships and bring awareness to your crowdfunding campaign due to its personal touch and ease in building long term relationships. Just remember to continue updating your CRM and thanking your donors throughout the continued donor lifecycle. 

All in all, direct mail is an immensely important tool that can be used to support your crowdfunding campaigns in powerful ways. When you implement direct mail effectively, you get to see the benefits of a successful crowdfunding campaign and the impact it brings to your mission. 

Remember to use direct mail to spread the word about your campaign, use it to break the digital barrier, and increase your donor retention overall. If you use direct mail and implement these three tips, your campaign should see much more success and engagement overall. Good luck!

This was a guest post contributed by Grant Cobb of GivingMail.

Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.

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Learn how to maximize the success of your virtual event donation page with this guide.

Maximizing the Success of Your Virtual Event Donation Page

It’s no surprise that in 2020 alone, the number of organizations hosting virtual events has doubled. With a global pandemic on our hands, nonprofit organizations needed to find a way to step up and get donors to show up— all in a virtual world. 

Based on the Virtual Events Research Report, creating a donation page is one of the most effective donation tactics you can use at a virtual event. Sounds easy enough, right? Shockingly, only 25% of those surveyed were actually following through and creating a page. And even more, only 8% of respondents were using peer-to-peer fundraising or crowdfunding efforts to gain additional revenue. 

This begs the question: Why are so many organizations leaving money on the table? 

But your organization is different, because you’re here and you know what to do for your virtual event’s donation page. At least, you will after you check out these seven best practices for creating a donation page so good it will help your organization raise as much money as possible during your next virtual event. Here’s to 2020 showing us just how adaptable and agile nonprofiteers like you can be. 

Best Practice #1: Tie Your Donation Page to the Event.

You already know that people respond well to content that’s catered to them. This is the reason targeted advertising exists, or email marketing campaigns with your name in the subject line. When it comes to your virtual event, the donations you receive related to your event are no different. They’re special and you should call that out.

You’ll want to create a special event page that ties in donations raised specifically from the virtual event. Take this page as an example from the Teen Kitchen Project. Notice that the page calls out how many donations have been given as a result of this campaign, how far the organization still has to go to reach their goal, and more information about the organization and the fundraiser itself. 

Here's an example of a virtual event donation page.

In addition, remember to create a sense of urgency. A great way to do this includes adding pop-ups like the one seen below. This tactic ensures the donate button is front and center multiple times throughout the potential donor’s journey to explore your event page. 

Here's an example of a donate button on a virtual event donation page.

Other examples to create a sense of urgency include adding a countdown showing when the virtual event ends. Tell your potential donors why it’s vital that you get the resources you need right away. Make sure to use language that evokes emotion from your donors. 

Best Practice #2: Make it Shareable.

They say sharing is caring, and your organization should definitely care about your attendees sharing! Amplifying your efforts can happen more and more if you have made it easy for virtual attendees to spread the good news.

One way to do this? Include easily clickable buttons for social sharing. If possible, pre-populate a status that your event participants can quickly edit to make their own. Making it as easy as possible to share increases the likelihood that your supporters will. 

This is also something important to work into your peer-to-peer fundraising. Encourage your participants to share, share, SHARE. There’s no such thing as oversharing here (well, as long as it’s about your organization). The key is to make it easy for your supporters to share the event. 

Then, you’ll want to continue to share your page during the event. Make sure to encourage your event participants to do the same. 

Here's an example of a share button on a virtual event donation page.

The popup that appears can encourage people to share, especially since social sharing has proven time and time again to be a valuable way to garner support. 

Best Practice #3: Make Donation Levels Clear

Sometimes, lack of instruction can lead to lost donations. If it isn’t easy and it isn’t clear, you’re bound to lose donors quickly. Since things are moving fast during a virtual event, it’s imperative that you outline donation levels and what they mean.

Remember that you’ll want to be as clear and concise as possible about what it is your organization needs and how donors can fill that need. 

Here's an example of set giving levels on a virtual event donation page.

Clearly indicating which amounts provide what on the donation page itself, like on this page, can help supporters make up their minds more quickly. As an added bonus, it may even encourage potential donors to give more when they see the needs they’re filling. So not only should you list the amount, but put it into perspective for your potential donor by outlining what that donation means.

Best Practice #4: Add Personal Touches

Don’t forget the essence of what fundraising is all about—the actual cause. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technical event planning process and forget that the most important takeaway is that you connect with potential donors on the cause. 

There are two aspects to every virtual event and the donations you receive. One is the technical aspect of pulling off a virtual event donation page. For example, how easy is it for your potential donors to get involved, donate, and share. The other is to remember that you have to pull at their heartstrings and relate with them on a personal level to connect in a way that garners their support.

Once you’ve done all of the technical aspects of getting your donation and event page ready, read through as if you’re a potential donor who has never heard of your organization. Ask yourself—would you be compelled to give? Does the message of what your organization stands for shine though? If not, it’s time to go back in and add some love to the page.

Added bonus—as you’re gearing up for your event check out these live streaming tips. Once the streaming is over, add the video to your donation page for a personal touch. Don’t let the fear of technology keep you from hosting your best event yet.

Best Practice #5: Make Donating Easy

We’re asking you to keep it simple. Your donors shouldn’t get frustrated trying to navigate donating to your organization. Sometimes, organizations can be standing in their own way. So make donating online easy. We’re talking easy to navigate, easy to fill out the form, and just plain simple all around. 

Make sure that you’re gathering the least amount of information necessary. If possible, allow payments with popular one-step apps like Paypal or others.

Best Practice #6: Update Your Donors

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it… well, you know the rest. Your donors should always be informed of the larger goal you’re trying to reach. Why? Because they’re interested, they want to help, and they will do anything to keep spreading the word. Your small reminders will help nudge them toward giving again or finding peers that will. 

If you’ve been fundraising prior to your event, keep track of how close you are to your goal. That way, during the event, you can let them know how much is left to raise and ask them to help you to hit your goal. 

You can reach out to your donors via email, social media, or by including updates on the donation page itself like this example. 

Remember that if you never try, you’ll never know the success you could see. According to our 2020 virtual events research report, only 10% of respondents who had already run virtual events said that they were unsuccessful. However, those who didn’t try to engage attendees were 150% more likely to be unsuccessful — so make sure to continue engaging your attendees! 

Here's an example of a campaign update on a virtual event donation page.

This can also help build engagement and excitement as your supporters see how they’ve contributed to getting you closer and closer to your goal. 

Best Practice #7: Provide Next Steps

So you’ve followed all of the steps and hosted a successful virtual fundraiser. Now what? It’s easy to forget about next steps with all of the excitement and anticipation surrounding the event. But as a nonprofit professional, you always have to be one step ahead.

Make sure to use your donation page to capture information so you can follow up with attendees, participants, and donors after the event. Simply use an email capture box or pop up to let them know you want to keep them involved in your organization. Somebody may be incredibly interested in your organization, but unable to donate or volunteer at this time. This allows you to cultivate the relationship over time.

You’ll want to let them know the final totals (as mentioned in best practice #6!), but also let them know about additional ways to stay updated and get involved with your organization. Don’t forget to ask all attendees for feedback on how to improve the next event. 

As nonprofit professionals agree, a donation page for your virtual event is a sure way to increase your fundraising revenue. So what’s standing in your way? Putting in the effort will take your organization further in our increasingly digital world. 

Remember that although donation pages are one of the best ways to fundraise during virtual events, they’re not the only way. For more virtual events fundraising ideas and other virtual event best practices, make sure to check out our 2020 virtual events research report. 

Best of luck with your virtual events!

This was a guest post contributed by Wild Apricot.

These are five reasons why you should incorporate direct mail in your overall strategy.

5 Reasons to Incorporate Direct Mail in Your Strategy

Direct mail is the backbone of many nonprofit fundraising strategies. Over 90% of direct response revenue to nonprofits comes from direct mail. Even if your organization is using other channels already, a multi-channel approach is the most effective way to bring in revenue for your organization and maximize your ability to do what you do best – serve your cause.

But maybe you’ve been told that direct mail is a dying strategy and you’re not sure whether you want to invest your fundraising dollars that way. If you’re looking to get started with a fundraising campaign and want to learn the best ways to ask for donations, here are four key reasons why direct mail is the answer.

1. Increasing response rates

Direct mail has the highest response rate of any fundraising channel; in fact, response rates to direct mail can be 10x higher than other channels such as email or social media ads. While direct mail also costs more to send, these higher response rates make direct mail an attractive way to keep high-value donors active with your organization and engaged with your cause.

Higher response rates also mean that more fundraising revenue is coming to your organization. More money means more capabilities for your organization and a greater reach for your cause.

2. Keeping your organization top-of-mind

Direct mail is also the most memorable channel for recipients. Even in cases where the recipient isn’t sending a donation back, keeping your organization in the mind of the donor makes them more likely to give in the future.

Sending out direct mail appeals regularly keeps your cause in the eyes, minds, and hearts of your donors. For more information, see GivingMail’s guide to direct mail for nonprofits to understand just how powerful direct mail can be.

3. Allowing for a personal touch

Direct Mail continues to feel more personal, helping it create a deeper connection between your donors and your organization. People like seeing their names referenced in communications and relate best when they are directly addressed. This gives direct mail the advantage of being the most opened, most responded to, and most relatable type of appeal you can send to your donor.

Personalization is also key to maximizing the value of direct mail appeals. Now, personalization is more a necessity than an option if you want to get the greatest connection and greatest response to your fundraising campaigns. Personalization is just one of many best practices for a fundraising letter.

4. Targeting older audiences

While direct mail remains a top-performing channel for all age groups for marketing and fundraising purposes, it’s especially useful in targeting older demographics. Older audiences have even higher affinities for direct mail, and the gap between responsiveness between channels grows with age.

Direct mail fundraising appeals that apply best practices are the single best way to drive revenue for your organization. You’ll want to make sure that your appeals are written in a way that appeals to all your demographics, or that you are segmenting your audiences and sending tailored appeals, to ensure that your results are maximized.

5. Pairing well with online campaigns

While direct mail fundraising can function as a standalone campaign, it’s important to point out that it can also work very well as an additional touchpoint for tons of other types of fundraisers.

For example, imagine you’re hosting a crowdfunding campaign. You’ve created your online campaign on a top crowdfunding website and now you’re ready to start promoting it and watch those donations pour in. You appreciate the flexibility and convenience of an online fundraiser (and a crowdfunding one in particular), but you’re looking for a way to bring your campaign even further.

That’s where direct mail comes in handy! By sending out direct mail appeals to your top supporters, you can encourage them to check out your crowdfunding campaign and make a virtual contribution.

Consider integrating your direct mail outreach with your online fundraising efforts.

To make the conversion process even easier for your direct mail recipients, be sure to include the URL for your online campaign (or perhaps even a QR code!). That way, readers will know exactly how to respond and support your fundraising efforts.

Direct mail has many purposes in a nonprofits’ strategy. If you neglect this critical fundraising channel, you never know how much potential revenue you might be giving up!

Author Bio

This guest post was contributed by GivingMail.

Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.