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.