Sad-eyed animals staring mournfully at the camera while Sarah McLachlan croons ‘Angel’ in the background has certainly proven to be an effective marketing technique.
In fact, ‘that’ ASPCA commercial is the organization’s most effective fund-raising campaign to date, raising more than $30 million in the 18 months following its 2007 airdate.
But not every non-profit has the budget to air national television commercials. And although tugging on heartstrings is an easy way to get people to open their wallets, it doesn’t directly increase the number of animals who find their forever homes.
However, plenty of other savvy marketing techniques do. Recently, LA animal charities have been employing effective new methods designed to help the city achieve its no-kill goal within the next five years.
In 2008, Best Friends Animal Society noticed that in some parts of the country there are waiting lists for breeds that are being euthanized by the thousands in Los Angeles shelters.
The solution seemed simple: scoop up the unwanted pups from the LA shelters and transport them to places where they stand a much better chance of finding new homes.
Best Friends gave the program a catchy name, found a celebrity volunteer (Denise Richards) to help with the publicity, and voila! Pup My Ride was born. Since its inception, the scheme has saved over 6,000 lives.
Last year, Found Animals achieved an equally impressive feat through its Twelve Pets of Christmas campaign.
Capitalizing on the fact that (despite all advice to the contrary), people often give pets as Christmas gifts, the group offered discount coupons for twelve categories of animals that are frequently overlooked at shelters.
Throughout the month of December, potential adopters were incentivized to choose hard-to-place pets—senior pets, big dogs, shy or overweight pets, bonded pairs—over those that can be homed more easily.
The campaign found homes for more than 3,000 dogs and cats, far exceeding the organizers’ expectations.
And in May of last year, Much Love ran its ‘Perfect Match’ event at the West LA Animal Shelter, pairing up potential adopters with their perfect pets and sponsoring the first 20 dog and cat adoptions.
The highly successful event generated a lot of publicity for the shelter and also for Much Love, which exceeded its 2012 target of 200 adoptions.
In addition to clever marketing campaigns, playing an active role on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is a vital (and cost-effective) way of getting the message across to millions of potential adopters.
You can help your favorite local charity reach its 2013 goals by liking it on Facebook, following it on Twitter, and spreading the word about its animals and adoption events.