Jacksonville Humane Society Doubles Online Fundraiser

Spurred on by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s free training for nonprofits, the Jacksonville Humane Society has doubled donor performance from its digital fundraiser in two years.

Increasing online donations from $ 62,000 in 2019 to $ 125,000 in 2021 has helped support many people and animals, including dogs Rocky and Zeus and their owner, who was homeless and asked for help. for his pets earlier this year.

“Her priority was to make sure the dogs were healthy,” Lindsay Layendecker, director of community programs, said of the owner. “He was concerned that we would judge him for his situation, but it was clear to everyone that these dogs were loved and well cared for.”

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The association gave Rocky and Zeus wellness exams, updated vaccines and municipal licenses, which meant their owner could stay in pet-friendly shelters and help them find future housing. .

“He was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he made a small donation himself to pass it on to the next person,” Layendecker said. “There are many families like this who have been deeply affected by the pandemic and need our support. Keeping Rocky and Zeus with their father means two [society] the kennels were left open for two dogs without owners. “

Learn to thrive in the digital world

Digital fundraising is one of a host of free training courses the Jacksonville-based duPont fund offers to its approximately 300 nonprofit grant recipients across the country. The online course began in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw nonprofits’ revenue drop as they were forced to cancel in-person fundraisers, Mari Kuraishi said. , president of the fund.

“As part of a broad campaign to help nonprofits meet the challenge of the pandemic, the fund has designed a program to help beneficiaries make the transition to the digital environment,” she said. . “We thought, pandemic or no pandemic, nonprofits need to learn to operate in a digital environment, and online fundraising is one of the most important skills to learn.”

The 2020 pilot program was a “crash course in digital fundraising,” she said. That year there were 90 participants, “ranging from large national and regional nonprofits with professional development staff to small lay-run churches and volunteer-run cultural institutions,” said Kuraishi.

The fund has partnered with Lightful, which has developed a technology training program focused on webinars, idea sharing between nonprofits and one-on-one coaching, she said.

“A digital fundraising campaign requires careful planning and solid execution, and a critical component is a thoughtful social media strategy,” Kuraishi said. “Most importantly, nonprofits find their voice and focus on effective storytelling: why is their work really important right now?

These 90 nonprofits collectively raised around $ 3.1 million last year, focused on the national Giving Tuesday movement in November. The fund provided an additional $ 2 million in return. About 75% of newly formed nonprofits achieved higher Giving Tuesday results in 2020 than in 2019.

In 2021, 82 associations participated in the training, some new, some returning from the 2020 sessions. They raised around $ 4 million, according to preliminary data, with a few weeks remaining in their year-end donation campaigns, and are on track for the highest match to date.

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The Humane Society, which raised $ 62,000 digitally in 2019, raised $ 107,000 during the 2020 Giving Tuesday campaign and received $ 50,000 in matching duPont for a total of $ 157,000. He raised $ 125,000 in 2021 and added matching $ 75,000 from duPont and two donors, for a total of $ 200,000.

“They already had a sophisticated fundraising operation but had yet to fully harness the power of meeting their donors online,” Kuraishi said. The organization also didn’t hesitate to ask for donations, as many other aid companies shut down fundraising during the pandemic because it didn’t seem like the right time to ask for donations for adoption. pets and other animal related services.

“The program taught them to be explicit with donation requests to convert their wider interested audience into online donors,” she said. “Their results showed that their donors are actually looking to engage more deeply with them online, especially when JHS has put together such a thoughtful and heartfelt campaign. “

“Let love rule”

This achievement stems from many other success stories, such as Rocky and Zeus, which the company has shared with donors and the public on social media, on its website and through other platforms.

The need for funding was clear, Layendecker said.

“2020 has been a very difficult year for nonprofits… in terms of fundraising, losing face-to-face events,” she said. The company had had a “good” digital presence but wanted to improve it, “to turn it from good to great,” she said.

To do this, the training recommended narrowing down the animal welfare mission: sharing stories about people and pets who have had happy endings.

“There was a lot of commotion [in the country] in 2020 a lot of negativity, ”Layendecker said.

So the “Let Love Lead” campaign was born for Giving Tuesday that year, with touching photos and stories of pets and their owners. The theme was: “When you let love rule, anything is possible”.

A call spoke of a local family with three young girls who came to the company for a kitten.

“They saw Barbacoa, a little gray kitten with a visual impairment… One of their young daughters also has vision problems which force her to wear glasses and an eye patch,” according to the campaign’s promotion. “When the two met it was love at first sight. Love led Barbacoa to her best friend and she is now where she needs to be. Your loving gifts make times like this possible.”

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The company was “overwhelmed” by the response, Layendecker said.

“We didn’t know what the financial situation of people would be,” she said.

The company now uses the training to help with fundraising throughout the year. A campaign in June allowed donors to nominate kittens, and the goal of one in July was to raise $ 24,000 in 24 hours on the 24th of the month.

A particularly helpful recommendation from the training was to take the big picture and avoid focusing on a single sentence or photo, she said. “It’s easy to get heavy on little things,” she says.

Layendecker said she finds joy in “becoming the storyteller” and showing donors what is really going on at the shelter, what the specific needs are, the challenges the staff help the animals to overcome.

“They help pay for things like this. It is thanks to them that such things are possible,” she said. “It’s a chance to tell stories about the great things that are happening. There is still such a stigma about animal shelters that they are these big, scary places.”

Reality, at least in society, is one of the “happy stories,” she said.

[email protected], (904) 359-4109


The company’s shelter is located at 8464 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32216. To adopt, host, donate, volunteer, or get more information, call (904) 725-8766 or visit jaxhumane.org. the

The annual Silent Night program, which provides temporary homes for shelter animals during the holidays, begins Monday at the company. Pet pickups are from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Animals must be returned December 26-28 unless adopted. For more information, call (904) 725-8766 or visit jaxhumane.org/events/silent-night-in-jacksonville. City-run animal care and protection services are also involved in Silent Night: for details, email [email protected] or visit the shelter at 2020 Forest St., Jacksonville, FL 32204.

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Jennifer R. Strohm