Raising money for an animal shelter seems like a sure bet. After all, who doesn’t want to help out adorable puppies and kittens? But if you work for an animal shelter or animal welfare charity, you know that it’s easier said than done. There’s a lot of overhead involved with running a shelter, and there are just as many challenges looking after homeless animals as there are with any other nonprofit.

That said, there are plenty of things you can do to raise more money for your animal charity, and many of them involve leaning on your best asset: the furry friends you’re helping! Let’s take a look at 3 tips for animal shelter fundraising:

Focus on your storytelling

One of the key components to being a successful charity is being able to connect with people on an emotion level. You want to position your organization as not just some faceless corporation, but as a company that works to do good in the world. That’s why it’s so important to demonstrate your animal shelter or charity’s mission – and you can do that with great storytelling, by outlining a need, a solution, and the successful result.

Focus on what you’re looking to achieve with your animal shelter’s story. Are you raising awareness about #adoptdontshop? Do you need to raise money to build a new wing of your shelter? Are you putting out a call for a new bunch of dedicated volunteers? Whatever it is you’re looking for, it’s a smart move to build a story around your shelter’s particular campaign, or general core mission.

Also, you might look to change up your main campaign story depending on the time of year – a focus on kitten adoption during kitten season, for example, or a spotlight on senior dogs, or less common pets like lizards or birds. Don’t forget that specific holidays are great to build a story around as well, particularly if it’s something like “home for the holidays” at Christmastime or Thanksgiving!

The idea of telling “success stories” specifically works wonderfully here, too – everyone likes seeing a heartwarming story of a rescued animal recovering in a happy home. Think about an abused dog learning to come out of its shell, or a litter of kittens rescued from a harsh outdoor environment. These stories really show how donations make a big impact for your organization, and they can position supporters as being the hero of the narrative.

Use multimedia

Having a website or social media presence that’s text-heavy is dry and unengaging. What’s going to really capture peoples’ eyes – and imaginations – is good use of multimedia, like quality photos and videos. If someone can’t make it in to the shelter, for example, they should be able to browse up-to-date photos of pets you have available for adoption. You could even have “photo journeys” on your website or blog detailing a particular animal that’s on its way through recovery to finding its forever home! (Psst – Instagram is a great addition to your social networks of choice! There are a ton of hashtags and communities on Instagram built around animal welfare, and it only takes some engaging photos to get involved.)

As for video, it can be an underlooked medium for getting attention, but it’s valuable when it comes to creativity and the potential to go viral – just think of how many people already watch cat videos every day! We’ll always love this “low-budget masterpiece” from Atlanta’s Furkids Animal Rescue & Shelter

Don’t look past the power of writing, either – sometimes a cleverly-written bio for an animal in need or a fun description for a shelter is just the thing to get prime attention. Be sure to use as much detail as you can, and don’t let your tone get too dull or detached.

Ask for what you need

It goes without saying that the public is generally eager to help animal shelters when it comes to fundraising or providing supplies. But, as with many charities, sometimes you end up more with things you don’t need instead of what you do need. That’s why it’s vital to be very specific when it comes to your public ask. Not only does this direct your supporters in the correct way, but it also cuts down on wasted time and energy from your staff.

Does your shelter need extra rags or used blankets for its cages? Put out a call for those. Do you need more food supplies in a particular brand for special-needs animals? See if you can solicit those from the community. If you’ve built up a network of supporters, it’s worth directing them and their collective efforts towards your immediate, urgent needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask for very specific things, either, whether you’re looking to raise a certain dollar amount or trying to find basics like laundry detergent (all those blankets won’t wash themselves) or toys. You may be surprised at how eager people will be to help, particularly when animals are involved!

Animal shelters and animal welfare charities have many challenges, but they’ve also got a secret weapon in its cause marketing: pets looking for their forever homes. By tugging on the heartstrings with good stories, colorful multimedia, and specific asks, your efforts can go a long way towards building great word-of-mouth for your organization. (And if you’re looking for a place to start, our Giving Days ebook is just the ticket!)

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