Running an animal shelter is no easy task. Cleaning up cages, trying to get hurt or abused animals to trust you, handling logistics and staff, dealing with pet adoption – it can all get a little overwhelming.
And it can all become much easier if you have sufficient funds to deal with it all. But of course, brainstorming an effective marketing strategy can be difficult, especially if you’re already understaffed and/or underfunded.
This is why we’ve compiled for you a list of creative tips to help you run your fundraising campaign. These tips focus on how to create a viral campaign simply because those are the most effective. People love animals, and anything to do with animals can immediately become popular on the internet.
So let’s dive in!
1. Set up animal cams at your shelter
The more screen time your little furry friends get, the more people will find them adorable and want to help them.
Put up tiny Go-Pro cameras in your animal cages and have them run 24/7. Then live broadcast the videos on a dedicated landing page on your website. Do your live broadcasting via YouTube and then share each broadcast on your website.
You can have animal cams for all the animals at your shelter – puppy cams, cat cams, hamster cams, bunny cams, you name it. The goal is to catch the animals doing cute things (even if it’s just sleeping or enjoying a meal) that would get people to fall in love with them.
Share your animal cams on social media, and encourage people to go and watch. In each post, add donation links so people can donate on the spot. Also add the links to your video descriptions on YouTube, and on your website.
You can also get more traffic to your cams by doing a mainstream on a different topic e.g. tips on how to groom cats or a live Q&A with pet owners, and having a smaller animal cam along the side of the stream in the same video. This will give people a greater incentive to join your live streams.
2. Let people be pet owners for a day
A lot of people want to keep pets but can’t because of work or because their parents think it’s a bad idea. So let people have a small taste of what it’s like to own a pet.
Have people sign up to be pet owners for the day. They should be able to do this through your social media pages or your website.
Then assign a pet to each person, give them all the instructions they need, and let them take care of their new, temporary pet. Try this strategy on a small scale first e.g. with a few puppies or kittens to see if it’s manageable for your staff.
Encourage people to take photos and videos with their pets, post them to social media, and tag you. Share the content as widely as possible and tell your followers to do the same.
Chances are, a lot of people will end up wanting to adopt their furry friend permanently at the end of the day. And if they don’t, give them an opportunity to sponsor the pet e.g. to pay for their maintenance, food, and medical issues.
You can also accompany this strategy with less time-consuming versions of it. For example, let people sign up to catsit a kitten, or take a puppy on a dog walk.
3. Do animal takeovers on Instagram
This is a really cute way for your followers to know more about the animals you have. Let your animals do an Instagram takeover. Of course, a human will be handling the takeover since animals still don’t know how to run social media.
The way to go about this is simple. Each day, let one animal be the star on your Instagram. Let’s say that for Monday the star is Rowdy the rabbit. Use Instagram stories to show what Rowdy does throughout the day. Do a tour of his cage. Let people meet his friends and handlers. Post “selfies” that Rowdy takes of himself. Tell people about where he came from.
Introduce each new animal with a special poster, and a call for donations so people know that it needs help. You’ll find plenty of templates for fundraising posters on sites like PosterMyWall, that you can just customize for each animal and share within minutes.
Be as creative as you can but remember, the goal is to raise money. Put the donation link in your bio, and keep directing people to it periodically. And if you have more than 10,000 followers, use the “swipe-up” feature on Instagram stories to get people to swipe up on the story and donate.
Finally, encourage people to share your content so that it reaches more people and becomes popular.
4. Go viral on YouTube
YouTube is the hub for some of the cutest and funniest animal videos. These videos are also easily shareable, which is why YouTube videos are shared and talked about so much on other social media platforms as well.
Tell members of your team to record your animals doing funny things and send them in. Create a YouTube channel and post the funniest content you get on YouTube. Then share it on all your social media pages. If it’s truly funny, it won’t take long for it to rack up millions of views.
Add a donation link in your video’s description, or embed it into your video. You’ll find an option to embed links on the right-side menu when you’re uploading the video.
You can even get creative with it and add funny captions or dialogues to your animals’ silly activities.
Anything that has to do with animals will automatically become popular online. Animal content is funny and cute – what’s not to like? But you have to be smart and creative about it if you really want to stand out and get people to give you their money.
Remember that sharing your content and asking people to share it with their friends is central to a good viral marketing campaign. It would be a good idea for you to dedicate at least one staff member to ensure that you have a riveting presence online. Then, use these strategies to go viral and raise money for your little animal friends.