Meet our guest: Sue Ann Werling
SueAnn is the President of Brown County Humane Society. We met her a couple of years ago when producing a video for them as part of a $3.2 million campaign to build a new facility (view that video here!). They recently reached that goal, and we couldn’t be more impressed and thrilled for them!
Brown County Humane Society is a private, volunteer-supported nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Brown County’s dogs and cats. They are the only animal shelter in Brown County, and accept all of the county’s homeless cats and dogs regardless of health, temperament, or perceived adoptability. They have achieved and maintained an amazing Save Rate of over 95%, compared to the national average of 60%. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram, and check out their campaign website here.
Changing the Original Fundraising Plan
The campaign committee at BCHS originally planned to have several gatherings of 40-60 people where they would share their story and the need for donations. The first of these events had about 35 people in attendance, so they decided to poll their donors to find out how they would like to learn about the project. Were these gatherings actually the best plan, or was there another approach that would be more appealing to their donors? They found that many of their donors struggled to make time for such events, and it became difficult to schedule the gatherings accordingly.
In response, BCHS decided to shift their strategy by focusing on one-on-one meetings with their donors (and prospective donors). While they did employ some other strategies as well, this was the main way they raised their funds. A major benefit was that it allowed them to have more meaningful conversations with their donors and further build relationships.
Creating Marketing Materials that Work
The BCHS team created a brochure that they used in all of their meetings, which allowed them to easily walk through the facility plans. They identified 3 groups that would benefit from the new building — animals, employees and volunteers, and the community. Their material outlined how each of these groups would be impacted and showed the corresponding areas of the shelter that would function for each group. This visual and informative tool made it easy for donors to see exactly what their dollars would do with this project.
Keeping Donors informed
BCHS highly values their relationship with their donors and are striving to keep them informed throughout each stage of this project. Not too long ago, they were able to break ground on their new facility and, unfortunately, were unable to make it a celebratory in-person event (due to COVID). Instead, they have used videos to help keep their donors in the loop.
- Be flexible! Don’t be afraid to try something different. If it doesn’t work, move on to the next plan! That’s how you learn and grow.
- Be sensitive to the needs and desires of your donors. Listen to them…they are the ones who are supporting your mission.
- If you can secure matching funds, do it! People love to know that their dollars are being stretched — it encourages them to give.