With the holiday season approaching and donations dwindling to most shelters, use this checklist to remind donors to give and make it easy for them to do so. Many people are already making their holiday lists and are cutting back on gifts for friends and family. However, some families are giving more to causes that need help. Do what you can right now to get on those lists!
Make sure your site can be found on search engines.
While doing research for Animal Shelter Tips, I frequently notice that many shelters don’t have the name of the shelter on each web page title or they list “Second Chance” etc. Specifically, be sure your city and state and the words “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” are stated along with “Second Chance.”
For each page of your website, look at the page title on the top line of your web browser to check this. If someone tries to find your site using a search engine they will most likely use the city and state in the search and may not know the specific name of the shelter.
Try searching for your own website using your city and state and the phrase “animal shelter” and see if it comes up in search engine results on the first page.
(A future newsletter will cover in greater detail some pointers on improving your search engine rankings).
Have gift cards available for donors to give as gifts, “in honor of” or “in memory of.”
Set up a sponsorship program so specific pets can be sponsored.
See an example of a sponsorship program at Best Friends. This animal sanctuary offers pet sponsorship as a web-only service. They email a photo of the pet as well as its description. Sending a sponsorship of a specific pet as a gift may have more meaning for some than a cash donation.
Set up funds for specific purposes, such as surgical services and supplies, spay/neuter clinics, etc., and allow donors to specify these programs when they donate.
Tell the stories of specific animals on your website.
Show several photos and/or a video and share their progress. Photos are much more powerful than the written word! You could ask for a donation on behalf of pets needing veterinary services or special care.
Be able to accept donations online and by mail.
Have a PDF form donors can download and complete for mail-in. Most people have Acrobat Reader on their computers but have a link to the latest version of Acrobat Reader. Be sure you have a secure online payment procedure in place on your website.
Publish your wish list on your website.
Also link to a wish list such as those available on amazon.com so donors can link to that list from your site and order online. See an example of this at Operation Kindness in Carrollton TX. This makes it easy for people to contribute from their home computers.
Wrap presents for homeless pets
If you have volunteers who can wrap gifts, partner with a mall, big-box retailer, etc. to wrap presents for holiday shoppers with the proceeds going to the shelter. Ask local retailers to donate wrapping papers and ribbons.
Ask your local newspaper to run an ad asking for holiday donations
They may do this at little or no cost. Be sure to have a photo of at least one of your pets with a clever copy, such as “Help my Christmas be merry. Don’t forget me and all my friends at the XYZ Animal Shelter this holiday season. Please donate so we can ring in 2009.”
Or, have an ad reminding readers to donate money to cover new dog beds, renovation of your chat room, new software, etc. Or, ask for donors to buy specific types of pet food and deliver it to your shelter.
Get publicity from your local newspaper, radio station, TV station, and any other media in your community.
Call your local newspaper, radio station, TV station, and any other media in your community and ask that they do a story on your shelter. Do this soon so your group could be on the holiday list of possible donors! Have a “hook” that will entice them to do a story. If your donations are way down, explain by how much and the impact it will have. Or, describe how many animals have been surrendered due to the foreclosure crisis. Perhaps you’ve taken in some animals with serious medical problems and you need money to pay their bills.
Ask the paper or TV station to visit your shelter and take photos. Ask them to post the story on their website at least till the end of the year.
The no-kill Dallas County Humane Society on November 6, 2008, didn’t have enough money to pay for food and expenses through the end of November. A local TV station ran the story several times and the Dallas Morning News ran a print article. Within 24 hours they had $15,000 in donations.
For more holiday ideas: