A guide for animal rescue groups and individuals who want to use crowdfunding to raise funds to pay vet bills or help care for animals in need.
Donation-based crowdfunding is a way to source money for a project by asking a large number of contributors to donate a small amount, and asking a small number of contributors to donate a large amount. In return, backers may receive token rewards or acknowledgements for donations.
Crowdfunding is a great way for small organisations to grow their online following and address both short- and long-term fundraising needs. Larger established organisations can also benefit from this new and exciting way to engage existing supporters while reaching new audiences.
All you need is a clear idea of what you’re raising funds for and a good understanding of what crowdfunding is and how it works. There’s no ‘One size fits all’ in Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding for Animals can take many shapes and forms, including (but not limited to):
The following examples will give you a better idea of the variety of Animal Cause campaigns on Chuffed.org:
This guide is designed for small animal rescue shelters or other animal welfare organisation who want to understand how to use crowdfunding to fundraise for their animals and causes. It’s based on our experience with hundreds of shelters but uses specific examples from two shelters based in Australia – Forever Friends Animal Rescue and Maneki Neko Cat Rescue.
Forever Friends Animal Rescue is the largest animal rescue in Victoria, Australia and have over 600 pets in their care at any given time. That’s more than the RSPCA head office branch in their area. Completely run by volunteers, they have no paid staff. Despite this, they’ve managed to raise over $90,000 through crowdfunding on Chuffed.org in the past year alone.
Maneki Neko Cat Rescue have 180 active foster carers and volunteers and have anywhere between 300-400 cats in care at any one time. In 2016, they rehomed 830 cats, and in 2017, they’re on target for over 1000. They have grown exponentially over past 3 years: in 2014, they only rehomed 180 cats. Then in 2015, that jumped to 360. By 2016, they were at 830 cats rehomed. So far, Maneki Neko Cat Rescue has raised $29,150 on Chuffed.org.
This guide focuses on raising funds for a single animal. Larger projects (with 5- or 6-figure targets) require a slightly different approach, and it may be best to get in touch with us to discuss your project in more detail. You’ll also find examples and case studies at the end of this guide.
So, whether you’re a small rescue group with a small online following and just starting out, or an established organisation looking to reach new audiences, this guide will help you on your way!
We’d of course recommend using Chuffed.org, for three reasons:
Rather than fundraising to help ’10 kittens’, or ‘help save the lives of the animals in our care’, we found that choosing one specific animal to fundraise for works best. Most animal rescue groups care for several animals at any given time, and there’s always more than one animal in need. We recommend raising funds for 1 animal at the time and choosing an animal that:
The photo that you use as the header image for your campaign is critical to your success. It’s the first thing that potential supporters see and it’s what gets shared on social media. You want it to be high quality, inspiring and engaging.
Before you launch your campaign:
After the campaign ends:
Your title is the second thing potential donors see after the photo. Make sure it’s short (4-5 words) and easy for people to understand what difference they’re going to make. You can add an exclamation mark to add a sense of urgency. For example, if an animal needs surgery that will help them on their feet again, call your campaign something like: Help Nala Walk Again!
As a bonus, you can try alliteration: “Help Red Run Again”, “Save Eddie's Sight”, “Help Wobbles Walk” all worked well for Forever Friends Animal Rescue.
The Pitch text
Once you’ve piqued a potential donor’s interest with a strong photo and title, you need to give them the quick pitch. This is a very brief explanation of what your campaign is about. It’s what donors read to decide whether to read your full campaign page.
All your pitch should do is explain clearly what you’re fundraising for and have a clear call to action.
Here’s a good example:
“Nugget is a sweet two-year-old Staffy mix and he's been diagnosed with a luxating patella on both hind legs. Help us help him live a pain-free life so he can run and play like a young dog should!”
Now it’s time to give potential donors the full story.
Typically, project descriptions are 300-450 words. Their aim is to both explain and inspire. Both Maneki Neko Cat Rescue and Forever Friends Animal Rescue use a simple formula for this: explain what’s happened to the animal, then what you want to do and what you’re going to spend the money on.
Remember to write in plain, clear language. While it’s tempting to explain the details of the surgery, a lot of times the animals need complex surgery and explaining the details of the surgery is not going to help inspire people to give – it may just confuse them.
To improve your campaign page even further, you can add additional pictures or videos. Photos from the animal’s rescue or in surgery work well.
Also, if you’ve already spent the money for the surgery, you can still fundraise to pay it off – just be sure to be clear about this to your donors. They won’t mind, they just want to know where the funds are going.
Here’s a great example of a simple but good campaign description:
"The owners of sweet 4-year-old Narla took her to the vet due to her limping. They were told Narla needed surgery on both her back legs to live a normal, pain-free life. Narla's owners put her back in the car, drove straight to the pound and left her there. She's been there a month and has run out of time.
Forever Friends doesn't think Narla deserves to die. We're ready and willing to take Narla into foster care and look after her during her recovery and find her a forever home, but we need to raise the money to fund the surgery that Narla needs.
Peninsula Vet Care is generously willing to perform Narla's cruciate ligament surgery on both her back legs for around half the normal cost - $3500 – and we have a foster home waiting. The only thing that is missing is financial support.
Can you make a tax-deductible donation to help us save Narla? This sweet girl deserves a second chance.”
Once you’ve got your photo, pitch and campaign description, head to chuffed.org/start and start drafting your campaign. Just follow the steps, put the photo, pitch and description into the campaign editor:
Next, submit your campaign for approval, so we can review your page, and give feedback where needed*.
You don’t need to get it perfect immediately, because you can continue to edit your page, add details or pictures during the pre-launch phase and even after you’ve launched, so you are in full control. Also, once your first campaign is approved, you’ll be able to launch future campaigns without the need for further approval. This is an example of what a campaign page looks like:
The best campaigns on Chuffed.org do a lot of promotion, and so do Forever Friends Animal Rescue and Maneki Neko Cat Rescue. They both discovered that promotion activities are critical, but they don’t need to be complicated.
The crucial touch-points for promoting your campaign include:
The 3 main channels we recommend using are:
Where to post:
What to post:
Although Facebook allows you to reach new audiences, don’t forget about email. Not all your supporters will be on Facebook or check Facebook regularly, so reaching out via email will make sure you reach everyone. We even have had successful campaigns just use email only!
Think about it as using email to activate and engage your existing supporters, to help you reach new audiences through Facebook and Social Media. Get them involved so they share it with their networks.
3. Messages and Campaign Updates
When you create a page on Chuffed.org and you start collecting the funds, you will also be able to send campaign updates and messages to supporters through our website, even when the campaign is finished. Whether your supporters found out about your campaign on Facebook or via email, you’ll be able to reach out to all of them with a single click on a button. You can also download your supporter data from the website.
When you create your Chuffed.org page, you can choose to collect the funds either by adding your banking details via Stripe Connect (recommended) or via a PayPal account. Stripe Connect is a secure online payment platform that enables payments into a bank account of your choice. You can start receiving funds from the day you launch your campaign and (when using Stripe) you can choose how frequently you want the funds to be paid into your account. This means you don’t have to wait until the campaign is finished to collect your funds and you are in full control.
Most importantly after you complete a Chuffed.org campaign, is to let supporters know what happened. When you have an update about the animal that you saved, whether it’s 1 week or 3 months later, let them know. Supporters love getting updates on the animals they helped, and it makes them much more likely to donate to your next campaign. You can also use the Chuffed.org message function to contact and send updates supporters.
How much does it cost to run a campaign on Chuffed.org?
Nothing! Raising funds on Chuffed.org is completely free. Unlike most other platforms, we don't charge any fees to our campaigners so that projects receive 100% of the funds. Instead, we've put our trust in the supporters who at the point of donation, will pay the online payment processing fee and can include an optional donation to support our platform. Lucky for us, it turns out they do! So, if you raise $5,000 on Chuffed.org, you get the full $5,000 straight on your account.
How is this different from a standard fundraising appeal?
Although crowdfunding campaigns and fundraising appeals have the same ideals – that is, to get support (financially or otherwise) for projects that certain individuals or groups believe in – there are a few differences that make it worthwhile to add crowdfunding to your fundraising mix:
Raising funds for a bigger project?
If you have any questions about Chuffed.org or crowdfunding in general, or are looking to crowdfund a bigger project, please get in touch with [email protected] to schedule a free 30-minute mentoring session. We are happy to answer any questions and provide free advice on how to develop a tailored campaign and promotion strategy for bigger projects.
All the best of luck with your first Chuffed.org Campaign!
A huge thank you to Samantha from Maneki Neko Cat Rescue and Saskia from Forever Friends Animal Rescue for sharing your crowdfunding know-how and tips with us which will help to save more animals across the world.
You can find out more about these two amazing causes in the links below. If you found this crowdfunding guide helpful, consider making a small donation to one of their Chuffed.org campaigns:
Forever Friends Animal Rescue
“To be honest, it's the easiest fundraising we've ever done. When I think back of the times where we just did Trivia Nights, Bake Sales or Raffles, there's so much background work and so much admin and people involved. With crowdfunding, there's only 3 of us setting this up, especially with the design templates we've got, its quick and easy. It doesn't take long to create the Chuffed link in terms of effort and volunteer hours, and it's literally just getting it up on Facebook and in our Newsletter and sit back and watch the dollars come in - it's a dream”
- Saskia from Forever Friends Animal Rescue
Maneki Neko Cat Rescue
“What we found with Crowdfunding is that it brings people out that want to feel like they contributed to something specific, eg. helping Fluffy who needs surgery. They really want that connection with the animal. We find that as soon as we put up a new Chuffed.org page for an animal that needs surgery, many of the same people donate. We'd love them to do a regular monthly donation instead, but they prefer to donate this way, where they have a clear understanding of how the funds will be spent. We use Chuffed wherever we have a situation that provides us the opportunity to tell a great story and get people along for the journey”
- Samantha from Maneki Neko Cat Rescue
We’d also like to thank K9Kate Pet Photography (www.k9kate.nl) as well as The Animal Protection Society of Western Australia and CJ Animal Rescue for providing us with the amazing pictures used in on the front page of this document and to Hunter Animal Rescue for the banner image.
Marlies Kimpe is Chuffed.org’s growth manager and cares a huge deal about animals. She used to work for PetRescue in Australia before moving to the UK where she is currently a volunteer foster carer at Cats Protection. If you have any feedback or suggestions to make this guide even better, please contact her at [email protected].