Proven Strategies

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Animal Shelter Fundraising: Turning Ideas into Action

The following workbook and presentations from the fundraising team at Best Friends Animal Society provide an in-depth look at:

  1. Building a fundraising plan
  2. Increasing your donor base
  3. How to write a successful fundraising appeal
  4. Direct mail basics
  5. Segmentation 101
  6. Direct mail acquisition
  7. Planned gifts

This toolkit is designed for your organization to delve more deeply into the areas of fundraising you’re focusing on now. If you’re new to fundraising, we highly recommend the following resource, which provides an overview to get started in fundraising for your organization:

Building a fundraising plan

The first step is to develop a fundraising plan. This workbook includes pro forma templates that allow you to play with various scenarios as you build your fundraising plan. You should balance your resources appropriately to optimize revenue and organizational stability. Each sheet represents a way that you can build your donor base and continue to solicit funds from several constituent audiences using:

  • Direct mail acquisition
  • Direct mail appeals
  • Email appeals
  • Major donors
  • Grants
  • Special events
  • Monthly giving
  • Planned giving

For the email pro forma sheet, the 2016 M+R Benchmark Report provides detailed information that may help set your email goals.


NOTE: Gray cells automatically calculate and should not be adjusted. Blue cells are variable information that you may input and change to adjust scenarios.

Increase your donor base: New ideas for building your base of support

After establishing a fundraising plan, it’s time to build your donor base. Knowing how to leverage traditional and new media methods to connect with your supporters can make your job much easier and more successful. The question to ask is this: “How can I engage with someone at a level where I can get enough information to start a relationship?” “Increase Your Donor Base” covers what data to collect, how to (and not to) collect information and where to gather information.


How to write a fundraising appeal

Once you have a solid fundraising plan and donor base, it’s time to start asking people to donate. Not sure how to go about that first request? This quick seven-minute video covers what to include in a basic fundraising appeal, the types of “asks,” story ideas to capture donors and more tips for writing a successful fundraising appeal.

Direct mail basics

Direct mail is a type of direct response marketing that provides an opportunity to drive donations in multiple ways. In fact, most donors begin their relationship with Best Friends through the mail. This first presentation on direct mail explains what a multichannel approach is, what to include in your direct mail program and how to structure your campaign.


Segmentation 101

Not all donors are the same, which is where segmentation comes in to ensure you can achieve the highest results in direct mail campaigns. Segmentation is the process of taking a group of constituents and breaking it into “parts” for the purpose of message customization and analysis. Highlighted briefly in “Direct Mail Basics,” this presentation covers why segmentation is important, what types of segmentation there are and how the fundraising team at Best Friends uses it in our campaigns.


Direct mail acquisition

In “Increase Your Donor Base,” we covered where to find donors in traditional and new media. A healthy acquisition program is essential for a successful and growing nonprofit organization. Despite the increasing popularity of digital fundraising channels, direct mail acquisition is still the main driver of new donor acquisition at most organizations. Find out the benefits of direct mail acquisition, an overview of acquisition packages and the importance of that first year after a donor joins.


Planned gifts (gifts from a will, trust or other financial instrument)

Planned gifts, also referred to as bequests, are another area of fundraising that should be a focus for your organization. Not only are these typically major gifts, but every donor is a potential bequest prospect. Check out this presentation for suggestions on how to start the conversation, your role in the process and stewardship, plus creative marketing ideas.