Easy Ways to Increase the Size of Cash Donations

Increasing the size of your cash donations by even 10% could be the difference between life and death for some of your homeless pets. Try generating more dollars with these ideas.

Challenge grants in which a large donor agrees to match every dollar donated up to a certain amount can be extremely effective. Here in New Mexico a charitable trust and foundation agreed to match each dollar donated to the Equine Protection Fund up to $10,000. When donors understand their money may be doubled, they tend to respond. Be specific if there’s a time limit on the challenge grant and mention the foundation or trust making the offer.

Just ask for donations. This may sound like a no-brainer but many nonprofits sponsor fundraiser after fundraiser but don’t send donor request letters, cards, or emails to prior donors. This is Marketing 101. Someone who’s donated to your group or volunteered should be at the top of your list for repeat contact. I’ve donated to a thrift shop that benefits an animal group many times over the years. I’ve never received a thank you and maybe received a request for a donation twice. Yet I see this group publicizing their frequent fundraisers.

Offer “value-added” benefits by offering gifts or services based on the amount donated. For example, anyone donating over $1000 in a quarter receives a complimentary dinner at one of the finer restaurants in your area. Ask local businesses to donate gift cards. Make sure you can deliver the gift or service you promise. A museum here in Santa Fe uses this technique but frequently is unable to provide enough seating for all the members who want to attend events they schedule “for members only.”

Mention different levels of giving in your donor request letter. Base these choices on previous donations and increase the smallest amount suggested. For example, if a donor most recently donated $75, try asking for $75, $100, and $150 in the next letter. This approach will take more data manipulation using your donor software but could result in a large increase in donations based on other nonprofits’ experiences.

Ask your donors to donate on a monthly basis. You could state the cost of providing food and care for each pet on a monthly basis. “Please sponsor a large dog like Jack each month. He would love you forever and you’ll give him a chance at life.” Over a 12 month period, they will likely donate more than a donation two or three times a year.

Keep explaining to your donors in broad terms what you’ve accomplished with your funding. Explain new programs at your shelter or rescue, such as spay/neuter funding, humane education for kids, how many pets were adopted last quarter, etc. Donors want to know their money is well spent.

Tell specific stories about the pets you’ve saved. For example, include a photo of a dog as he was rescued from a puppy mill. Explain the medical services you provided for him. Then tell his happy ending of being adopted by a local family along with a photo. Stories like this are powerful in personalizing your efforts to save one pet at a time. Boilerplate letters do not have the same impact.

Say thank you for every donation.

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