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4 strategies animal welfare orgs can use to reach new major donor audiences

Our recent Q1 animal welfare benchmarks revealed that organizations are continuing to see revenue growth, driven by donor value, in 2023 after moderate growth during the pandemic. 

To continue to capitalize off this growth, we shared a few areas animal welfare causes needed to focus on in the second half of the year. Included in that list was the development of a stronger pipeline for major giving. 

In this blog, I'm sharing a few strategies and tactics animal welfare organizations can use to identify and reach new major donor audiences to build their pipeline. 

1. Use data to inform your strategy 

Animal welfare organizations have a treasure trove of data at their fingertips, but unfortunately, oftentimes it goes unused. 

The easiest way to stay ahead of your competitors is to take the time to dig into your donor data. Using a mixture of both advanced modeling and RFM, animal welfare organizations can understand which donors have the capacity, affluence and, most of all, the potential to give major gifts to your cause so that you don’t waste valuable resources speaking to the wrong people. 

2. Lean on leadership for influence 

You likely have a board and C-suite full of influential leaders—don't be afraid to partner with them! Take a look at the list of people closest to your organization and use those with the highest level of influence in your community as spokespeople. 

Not only can they help multiply the efforts of your major gift officers, but you also never know what other influential people they have relationships with—people who are searching for the right cause to donate to.  

3. Strategically invest in corporate partnerships 

I see corporate partnerships as an untapped opportunity for many animal welfare organizations. There are more corporations looking to partner with nonprofits like yours than you might expect.  

Corporations are full of animal lovers just like you and are looking for ways to engage their employees in the community and social responsibility efforts.  Plus, through a strategic corporate partnership, you’ll gain an entirely new audience of donors and volunteers you may not have reached before. 

4. Don’t neglect stewardship and cultivation efforts 

It’s no secret: Animal welfare donors are some of the most passionate givers—especially major donors. This passion is your superpower, and so it can’t be taken for granted. 

Animal welfare organizations must have a strategic cadence of communication planned to continue to steward and cultivate major donors after they’ve made a gift. It’s about letting them see the impact they’ve made with their donation, sharing the strategies you have in place to help animals in your community and casting a vision for how their continued support will help achieve that goal. 

At the end of the day, you and your major donors share the same purpose: helping care for animals and providing them with loving homes. Use the passion you share along with the strategies mentioned above to build deeper relationships with your donor base. 

Karla Baldelli

Karla is an elite nonprofit fundraising executive with a 25-year career in mid-level and distinguished donor fundraising, engagement and stewardship for major nonprofits. Her experience includes transformational roles with JDRF, Coast Guard Foundation, American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, The Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. While at the American Heart Association, Karla built the first-ever mega-donor event, Honored Guest Day.  She designed the campaign architecture for the $100 million Mission Lifeline Campaign and conceived the AHA’s National Giving Society, Cor Vitae.

Karla brings strong leadership and strategic counsel for thoughtful, year-round donor experience strategies integrated throughout campaigns and giving channels. Her expertise is changing the culture of major donor programs, including educating staff with her proprietary training, the Power of the Donor Experience.  Since coming to RKD, she has implemented a holistic program - leading with data insights and centered on the donor experience and organizational execution - that results in more inspired giving and increased revenue.   

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