How Anthem Pets Boosted Fundraising with LinkedIn

CASE STUDY: When faced with the task of gathering donations for the pet rescue group Anthem Pets, this board member found an untapped font of helpful advice in LinkedIn Answers. Here’s how she uncovered it – plus some fabulous fundraising ideas.

By Corine Cuvelier, Board Member, Anthem Pets

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Get more donations with puppies

I recently joined the board of directors for Anthem Pets, a non-profit rescue organization north of Phoenix. One of my new duties is to solicit donations for their fundraising event. Since I’m new to the area and don’t have many contacts, I decided to give social media a try.

The most successful tact was to pose the following question on LinkedIn Answers:

Doing fundraising for an animal rescue group. Any hints on how to approach local companies for donations in a down economy?

I’m on the board of a local animal rescue group and in charge of fundraising for our two main fundraising events, one of which is an auction. I’ve sent e-mail to several local businesses, and either haven’t heard back or have been rejected due to the economy. Any hints on how to approach businesses?

Within three days, I received 12 suggestions, mostly from strangers. Many of which were excellent. I’d like to share these posts; your non-profit may benefit from them as well.

Simply ask for smaller donations that they can afford…

Now this submission didn’t seem too applicable because I asked a huge liquor chain for a donation and they wouldn’t even give me a bottle of wine!

Go to their door with a puppy that needs a home and a T-Shirt. Seriously. People have a hard time saying no to an honest-to-god puppy.

I found this an excellent suggestion and I think I’ll borrow a puppy. After trading a couple of e-mails with this man, it turns out he is a former pet-store owner and has a lot of experience in the field. With LinkedIn you tap into some great experience.

Go to local businesses that would benefit from the advertising and the image boost of being involved with your organization. Be prepared to offer them something in exchange for their support (an inexpensive thank you plaque? a banner at the event? a glowing review?) and take them some statistics or other information that helps them justify giving to YOUR organization over other non-profit groups. For example, you might say that you have experienced an X% drop in funding in recent years and an X% increase in need since families cannot keep pets after foreclosure.

I think you have to go to people to “do business,” not just to walk away with something for your organization. How can you help them? How can they help you? Be flexible and get creative. If they give you $100 worth of products and you ping $1000 worth of business, they will be sure to support your next event.

Some businesses might not be able to afford to do much but they could allow you to advertise at their business for free (a poster?) or maybe they could offer services (printing of said posters) and some places might be willing to “loan” you one of their staff members for a few hours.

I also think that email is too impersonal and suggest that you call or go in person. I do a lot of fundraising for the PTA and many student organizations and this has worked in the past.

This suggestion came from a woman who is a student, but obviously has a lot of experience fundraising. Her creativeness spurs me to think of different ways to tap into my community.

I plan on putting some of these suggestions to use verbatim; however, just their creativity led me into some paradigm shifts in what I’ve asked for and received.

  • An historic painting from a now-closed downtown building.
  • An hour’s worth of space planning/design time placed into a sweet designer basket (this will also benefit the designer as free advertisement).
  • Tickets to the local Christmas pageant (free advertisement to an upcoming production in the community).

Have more ideas for how to network for fundraising ideas using social media? Leave a comment below.

About the Author

Corine Cuvelier lives in Arizona and is a volunteer and board member who has been active in many non-profits. Her professional life is in the medical industry. If you’d like to donate to Anthem Pets rescue group or adopt an animal, please post your request on the Anthem Pets Facebook page.

Non-Profit Websites, Meet the iPad

Poll: How Does Your Non-Profit Site Work on the iPad?

The most surprising thing about the iPad is how quickly and seamlessly it has nestled into the working and daily life of so many people. Gartner reported that Apple will sell 19.5 million units by the end of 2010 – way more, way faster than the iPhone.

Even if you’re not thinking about creating an iPad app for your non-profit (it’s not a bad idea, by the way), you minimally should be thinking about how your website looks on an iPad. A good chunk of your supporters may already be looking you up from their tablet, but according to the report from Gartner, the market is going to blossom with media tablets: 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181 percent from 2010. That means your constituency is likely to be moving to a handheld unit.

You should know minimally that if you’re using Flash, it’s not showing up at all on an iPad. But how about the rest of your site? How many of you have thought about how your site looks and performs on an iPad? Weigh in on our poll, and then check back in coming weeks as we report on our findings and give you tips on how to make your web project perfect on the most popular viewing devices.

Fall Web Cleanup

[This little gem is the e-mail newsletter our subscribers just received. Want a slice for yourself? Sign up now.]

After a summer of pollen and yard games, the house and yard is in much need of a fall clean-up. Fall clean-up is time to clear out the cobwebs and fix items that broke over the course of the season.

Web projects also collect clutter, whether it’s a website or online course. While you’re in a tidy mindset from keeping up your house, turn your attentions onto your website. Here are a few easy things you can do to tune up your web project for fall and not lose your mind.

1.Solicit comments.

Ask members of your organization and your constituency for ideas of what they think needs improvement. You might be surprised to hear what people from the outside think.

2.Put together a clean team.

Cleaning up is much easier if you do it with a task force to share the load. If you are an army of one, just make sure to pace yourself.

3.Dedicate 30 minutes a day.

It’s much less disruptive to pick away. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish if you do a little every day, rather than taking off two weeks for a major overhaul.

Need more tips on how to keep your web project ship shape? Look through our blog archives for hints on maintenance.

You’re Doing It All Wrong! How to Use Pictures on a Website

We see some common mistakes on our web travels at Talance. We see a lot of them that have to do with image formatting on websites and blogs. No doubt that a gripping image can compel a visitor to spend more time with you or even give you money. But you can ruin the best photo with bad habits.

Here’s what people do all wrong with pictures on websites, and how you can learn from their mistakes.

Infraction: No ALT tag

Not every web browser can see every picture. Obviously, blind people can’t see pictures, but other people have pictures turned off, and some browsers restrict certain kinds of images (hello, Gmail and Outlook). That’s what the ALT attribute is for. It’s meant to be attached to each picture so there’s a text equivalent in case the picture can’t be displayed. At least someone can read a description of what the picture should be.

How to fix it

This one is easy. Every time you add a picture to your site, fill in the ALT text box or “image description” field. Almost every web editor prompts you for this information. Here’s what it might look like:

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Where to add the ALT tag

Infraction: Huge image, small space

Many people know how to take an enormous web photo and make it look small. You can set the image to shrink it down to fit in a reasonable sized box on the page. This technique can squish the picture into a weird shape and also slow down the loading of your page.

How to fix it

What’s better is to make the picture smaller to begin with. Pick one of the hundreds of image resizing programs out there – we use Photoshop in the office – and crop it down. It will load fast and look right.

Infraction: No padding

KoalasThe eye craves white space. When text is crammed up against a picture, there’s no white space, which makes the page look junky and makes it more difficult to read.

You can see I’ve added a picture here with no padding. See how the words are all mashed up against it? Makes it difficult to see the picture and read the text surrounding it.

How to fix it

KoalasIntroduce yourself to padding. Padding puts a margin around your pictures, which helps break up text and helps the eye move more fluidly down the page. The best way to add padding is to ask whoever is in charge of building your site to add it directly to the CSS file. But you can add it manually too.

In your image tool on your web editor, look for Image Properties. Sometimes this is in the advanced settings. Look for fields called Vertical Space and Horizontal Space, and enter 10. That will give your picture a nice gutter to help it stand out. See how the same picture as above looks that much nicer just because I added a little breathing room around it? It gives a more polished look to the whole site.