Incentives for monthly donation subscriptions?
May 17, 2017 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I work with a local foster based dog rescue in my hometown. We are always in need of funds for vet bills and the like, and while we hold regular fundraisers, we could use some consistent funds to count on. I had an idea for a monthly subscription style system of donations what donors can have drafted monthly, but what can I offer them in return to really bring in the donors?

I have had this idea for a while, but have been stewing on what we can offer and, if we need to offer a reward on a monthly basis, or as an incentive or as an annual thing when you re-up your subscription or increase it (almost like a drive...NPR style). If we did a drive style fundraiser for monthly donations with incentives, I imagine that we wouldn't have a hard time coming up with prizes (koozies/t-shirts etc), but if it were monthly, I am having more of an issue.

I figured I could offer a piece of "art work" from one of our dogs (cute little pawprints with a little extra help from volunteers) as one of the prizes. Maybe photos of the dogs you are helping etc? But it is hard to think of something that wouldn't be repetitive every month. I can't imagine wanting 12 doggie art pieces. I want this to be a success and give us some regular income to count on, but I also want people to feel like they are getting something somewhat valuable in return.

Any fun ideas hive mind?
posted by Quincy to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hiya! I work on fundraising for my local rescue too. You don't actually need to offer anything; people will signup for regular monthly donations without incentives (we don't offer incentives.) However, I consult and setup fundraising for another dog charity, and they do a donor-only newsletter. It goes out monthly via Mail Chimp and it follows a dog through a few months and includes intake pics and just... more of the standard dog rescue communications stuff, just exclusive to these donors.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:09 PM on May 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

I've been a regular monthly donor for a charity for years, and I was only given an incentive the first time I signed up. If I were getting a monthly incentive, I would feel that they were wasting time and money that would be better going to their mission, especially considering things like administrative and mailing costs.
posted by FencingGal at 12:14 PM on May 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Working off what FencingGal said, we did do a PDF recipe book for dog treats for a one-off donation drive. If you would like a copy made up for your org, I'd be happy to do that.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:17 PM on May 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Seconding the newsletter, because cute pictures of the dogs you're helping is free/cheap and inspiring. It's really more about acknowledgement than making it worth their while.
posted by gideonfrog at 12:21 PM on May 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Monthly (or weekly) cute dog gifs from your cuties.

Get twelve good ones and you can make a calendar to offer for sale at the end of the year, as well.
posted by Mchelly at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Can people virtually adopt a dog? I'm thinking of being allowed to name the dog and then get regular updates on the dog's progress.
posted by Threeve at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

The most important incentive you could offer me in exchange for monthly donations is a promise not to solicit further donations (except maybe once a year during your biggest fundraising event). That's what our local NPR station does, and it's what sold me on monthly contributions.
posted by spamloaf at 12:42 PM on May 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Instead of 12 doggie art pieces, how about a doggie art calendar? Or a professionally photographed dog portrait calendar? A single reward when signing up initially is pretty normal for the monthly subscriptions I support, though none of them are related to dog rescue. (And please do give people the option of declining.)

Tickets to a subscriber's new year gala or other annual insider event works well if there are enough members and most people are local. If you're lucky, the donation box at the event will allow it to at least pay for itself, and you might be able to convince reasonably good entertainers to perform as a donation. But it's a lot of extra work for the staff.

Still, if you ask me, a single greeting card with a paw-print and maybe a snapshot of one of your dogs when subscribers first sign up would be more than your donors expect.
posted by eotvos at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Maybe the dogs are your best incentive? I'd pay a monthly fee for the opportunity to come play with a dog or walk a dog for a couple hours once a month. Sort of like a rental car, but with a dog. I like dogs, but I don't really want to keep one, but I'd pay to have some dog time.
posted by Rob Rockets at 1:11 PM on May 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

All of my recurring donations (including metafilter) are things I've been spurred to start because of reading something compelling someone wrote about how having a consistent source of income allows them to better meet their mission. While I intellectually know that all the causes I also believe in but don't support on a monthly basis (specific disease research, for example) would also benefit from recurring donations, it's always that explanation that breaks any inertia I have about it.

SO. What I'm saying is. Whether or not you offer incentives, and however you offer them, a widely distributed blog post/newsletter/letter explaining exactly how having a consistent and predictable source of income allows you to help doggos even better (eg, "right now, we fundraise in events - we have thrived on that support from our community but unfortunately that means it's hard to plan for the future...knowing that we have $ coming in allows us to confidently open our doors to more dogs who will need expensive heartworm treatment like this cutie here") would be an extremely persuasive thing if your donors are anything like I am.

Also, a counterpoint to incentives, sometimes I find myself weighing the value of a donation when reasonably valuable things are attached, like hey, $50 is so expensive for a coffee mug! Which is silly because I know it's a donation, not a purchase. But it can feel more transactional in that way when anything particularly valuable is attached.
posted by R a c h e l at 1:29 PM on May 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Monthly newsletter called the Monthly Squee, with cute dog pictures. If I've learned one thing from the internet, it's that people will do anything for cute animal pictures. Including a fascinating dog fact, a dog owner tip, and a story about a dog currently in the program. You could offer sponsorships to local businesses who donate a high amount ($100? $1000?) or fill a particular need (food, dog beds, a month's worth of vet care?). At the top of the newsletter you say, "The Monthly Squee, this month brought to you by Steve's Carpet Cleaning. When your pet enjoys the spring mud a little too much, just call Steve so you and Fido can get back to enjoying the weather. Mention this ad for $20 off and be sure to thank Steve for supporting Doggo Rescue!" (I'd go after boarding, vets, pet stores, groomers, etc., but also dry cleaners, carpet cleaners, grocery stores, fuzzy blanket sellers, furniture stores ("the best chair in the house - your dog knows"), etc., and give everything a doggie spin).

For the annual thing, can you offer a puppy party of some kind to your monthly donors? Where you rent the dog park or (this would be the best one) the local pool at the end of the season*, and provide a low key party with snacks for people and pets and pictures and dorky doggie hats and things like that. They get to socialize with other dog people, if they don't have dogs they can meet dogs (you can even show off some of the fosters), you can make a direct appeal, etc. Depending on your local community, you could probably get local clergy (priests! rabbis! Buddhist leaders!) to come and bless the animals -- blessings of the animals are among the biggest services of the year around here, and a lot of clergy would be happy to come to YOUR location (instead of having animals at their religious building), eat some cookies, and bless any dog whose owner wants a dog blessing, in the service of a good cause. (The last place I lived dog blessings would have been considered decidedly weird, even though it was a hyper-religious community, but here -- much less religious! -- they are like the social event of the year.)

*I don't know if they do this around you, but here, at the end of the swimming season, the day after they close the pool to humans, they open it to dogs for one day before they drain it for the winter. It is absurdly popular.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:26 PM on May 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing the suggestion of monthly newsletter, which could be digital or print. A few pictures of dogs you're trying to find homes for, with related info; a collection of dog facts (1-2 "basic dog training" bits, 1-2 "interesting details" bits); historical dog details ("largest poodle ever weighed X pounds;" famous celebrity dog incidents, etc.) and so on.

If you're trying to fundraise, the rewards for subscribing can't take substantially away from that. But a newsletter works as both a reward - "hey, you like dogs! Here's some dog things! That don't require serious effort or time from you!" - and continued advertisement, as they share the newsletter or just info from it with friends.

Note that someone has to put the newsletter together; you'll need a template plan up front, and it's worth putting several hours in to get that right (or hire someone to do that part), and figure out where you're going to get the pictures & other content to go in it. Actually getting the content together each month should be easy enough - takes maybe a couple of hours; borrow heavily from Wikipedia for historical and other factoid details. If you have interns working for the org, this is a terrific way for them to get some basic journalism experience. (If you don't have interns, this is a great way to offer opportunities to local colleges - "looking for newsletter manager, >5 hours/month, must love dogs and have good writing/editing skills; will train.")
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:41 PM on May 18, 2017

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