Short on fundraising ideas? How pets can help public broadcasters

Pet-related pledge drives can help public broadcasters improve fundraising efforts.
Date Published

When nonprofit organizations are working to identify successful fundraising strategies, there are a variety of resources that they have at their disposal. Yet, as public broadcasters think about ways to engage the communities they provide services to, there’s sometimes a tendency to limit outreach efforts to the specific media they most frequently use: the radio, television or Internet. These resources can be adjusted to boost involvement. Also, moving out into the community can help improve donor participation, and it allows public radio stations to make connections that are hard to establish while working solely in a recording studio.

One tactic a number of fundraising professionals have recognized as truly helpful to getting people involved with a nonprofit is bringing in pets. Those furry – or feathered, scaly or hairy – companions can improve turn out for both fundraising and volunteer opportunities.

Break up the pledge drive routine, an online news source for the public broadcasting community, recently looked at the way Wyoming Public Media has included pets during on-air appeals. During the middle of a pledge drive, motivating donors to give their support can become difficult. As a result, the public radio station created “Pet Wednesday,” which has helped boost participation.

Erin O’Doherty, membership director for Wyoming Public Media, explained the strategy has doubled the number of people volunteering for the pledge drive, and the donations also increased when appeals are pet-themed. Similarly, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio has worked to integrate pets into their spring pledge drive.

“[P]et pledges accounted for some 20 percent of all new memberships,” according to Janet Grojean, director of corporate relations for the public broadcaster. The station even goes as far as to give dogs or cats membership cards.

Leveraging a national trend
The trend builds off the reality that an increasing number of households own a pet. In fact, the 2013-14 survey from the American Pet Products Association stated 68 percent of households own a pet. Besides crafting existing fundraising tactics to include pet-related content, there are ways for nonprofit groups to take action in the community.

SPCA International, a nonprofit dedicated to helping animals affected by disasters and conflicts, recommended setting up an event that involves donors. For example, a pet parade can help energize people to get involved, and it helps raise awareness. By partnering with local companies or individuals, nonprofit groups can foster stronger relationships with business owners to perhaps establish an ongoing connection.

People are dedicated to helping others, as well as animals, and combining these passions can help public broadcasters reach fundraising goals.

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