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2023 Animal Welfare Benchmarks: A shift in mindset

RKD just released our 2023 Animal Welfare Benchmark Report. Each year, this report examines data from our animal welfare partners across the U.S. to better understand the trends impacting our sector.  

I won’t go into all the details here, but if you haven’t had a chance to read the report, I encourage you to give it a read now—it’s full of information that will impact how you fundraise. 

In the meantime, I’ll highlight a few key points that stood out to me:  

  • We know human service organizations saw exponential growth throughout the pandemic, but animal welfare organizations are stronger post-COVID too. Revenue levels were 31% higher in 2022 than they were in 2018. 
  • Revenue growth is being driven by increases in the size of donor files, frequency of giving and average donor value (up 18% over 2018).  
  • Core and transition donor retention levels remain stable, but reactivated donors softened to their lowest point since 2018. 

Now, let’s chat about how we’re aligning our animal welfare strategies based on these insights: 

1. Increase digital investment. 

It’s no secret that digital has accelerated rapidly for animal welfare organizations over the last few years. With more donors acquired digitally, animal welfare organizations will need to continue to scale their digital programs to meet these donors where they are.  

Throughout 2023, we’re helping our animal welfare clients optimize their online strategies to provide better donor experiences, more personalized content and continue to stay top of mind among their donors and prospects.  

2. Test community-based program language across channels.  

There’s been a shift happening in the animal welfare industry over the last few years. During the pandemic, millions of Americans adopted pets. Today, more pet owners than ever need help keeping their pets at home.  

To address this shift in mindset, we’re testing new messaging to help encourage animal lovers to give to the programs that keep pets in the homes of animal-loving people. 

3. Lean into retention efforts. 

Deeply lapsed and transition donor retention continued to soften in 2022. As a result, a big focus for our animal welfare partners will be on sharpening their retention and stewardship efforts across lifecycles. 

For our clients, we’re incorporating things like postcards, special packages, peer-to-peer efforts and digital messaging to keep these donors on file. 

4. Build a pipeline for major giving. 

Major donor pipeline development is one of the most important fundraising trends for animal welfare organizations. Not only are major donors some of your most supportive constituents, they also have the power to help you along the path to transformative growth. 

We’re helping our clients identify major donors through modeling—then we use stewardship, personalized engagement tactics and high-touch packages to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with them.  

Animal welfare organizations are in a great position heading into 2023. In order to continue the growth, our plans and strategies should prioritize digital investment, acquisition, monthly asks, major donor growth, retention and stewardship efforts and adapting language to meet community need.  

David Miller

As Senior Vice President at RKD Group, David brings more than two decades of animal welfare experience to help organizations craft their fundraising strategies for success. Prior to joining RKD in 2011, David spent 14 years working at animal welfare organizations, including a stint as CEO at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.

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