When the spokesdogs for Peace & Paws share messages on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, thousands of fans engage. It’s no wonder, then, that our non-profit dog rescue organization tapped into this social media audience when we launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo at the end of 2013. With a goal to raise $70,000 to build an adoption center for dogs in need, Peace & Paws had to create a strong bridge between our marketing successes and our first major fundraising campaign. Along the way, we learned how to boost lackluster donations by $35,000 in a single weekend, how to exceed the campaign goal by more than 40 percent, and much more.
Among the many lessons to be learned at the intersection of non-profit social media marketing and fundraising, these three made the biggest difference for us:
1. Tap into your strengths. We’ve built an active, vibrant Facebook community, which tunes in to get training tips from our dogs, Giddy and Twinkle. Giddy and Twinkle share their knowledge and personalities through messages we write on white boards that we hang around their necks. We have more than 73,000 Facebook fans, and we are so grateful they engage enthusiastically with these posts.
During the campaign, we included Giddy and Twinkle, who had something to say about the Ruff House Retreat Adoption Center that we’re building, and the response was overwhelming. When we decided to put Giddy and Twinkle in the forefront of the campaign, we raised $35,000 in their first weekend.
2. Make time to show appreciation. By the time the fundraising campaign ended, we had raised $103,000 to help us build an adoption center that will assist us in rescuing more dogs. More than 1,800 people donated during the 60-day campaign, and we are so grateful to our donors. While some of those contributions were large, many were modest, and we wanted to show our thanks to everyone. The Indiegogo platform helped us accomplish that, since people received different levels of recognition gifts based on what they donated. We also found it important to acknowledge individual donors as they commented on our social media channels, so we did our best to comment as soon as possible. Sometimes, we made up short rhymes and individualized our thank you notes, but we always did whatever we could to make sure every donor felt how grateful we were.
3. Leverage social media assets like hashtags, contests, cover photos and more. With two weeks left in the campaign, we found ourselves still $40,000 away from our goal. We used social media to make it over the final hump and eventually exceeded our goal by 40 percent. We introduced contests to entice donors with instant perks, such as dedicating a kennel in their names (or their dogs’ names) in the retreat, or including their photos on the back of our Giddy and Twinkle calendars. We then had our dogs announce the winners on social media as often as we could. There was also a social media push around that time to promote “Giving Tuesday,” which was held in mid- December. We engaged in that discussion on Twitter and included the related hashtag to raise awareness for our campaign. In addition, we leveraged the visual nature of social media to help us tell the story about the Ruff House Retreat and created Facebook cover photos specifically to boost the Indiegogo effort. We shared images and video across Twitter and Pinterest as the campaign progressed.
There were certainly moments when donations started to lag, but our social media efforts perked things up repeatedly and were ultimately critical to our success. Indiegogo noticed that momentum, as well, and tweeted about our campaign and featured Peace & Paws in its email newsletter.
Today, work on the Ruff House Retreat Adoption Center is nearing completion, and we’re getting ready to house rescue dogs that are waiting for foster and forever homes. Our social media efforts were extremely effective in getting the word out about the work we want to do with these dogs. The generosity of our supporters is what has made this retreat a reality.