Oregon Humane Society (OHS) is the largest humane society in the Northwest, and adopts more animals from its Portland shelter than any other single-facility shelter on the west coast. Each year they help more than 11,000 homeless, injured, and abused animals find new loving homes. OHS never puts time limits on how long pets remain available for adoption and never euthanize pets for space reasons.
Fundraising is crucial for OHS, comprising 44% of annual revenue. A successful fundraising year ensures their ability to deliver life-saving and life-changing care. To fuel donations, OHS hosts more than 100 events annually, including Doggie Dash, their largest annual fundraiser. Doggie Dash is a peer-to-peer fundraising event centered around a walk/run and pet festival that gathers more than 6,000 participants, half of whom fundraise for OHS.
A New Multichannel Communication Strategy
In 2018, OHS decided to eliminate the registration fee for Doggie Dash, turning to fundraising to fill the gap. For their new strategy to succeed, OHS needed to increase participant engagement and individual fundraising performance. With these goals in mind, Kelsey O’Lea, Digital Marketing Manager, and Ed Pashkin, former Salesforce Administrator, turned to Twilio for Salesforce as part of its updated marketing strategy.
“We send a lot of emails over the four months Doggie Dash is active, so we wanted another channel to reach our fundraisers,” says O’Lea. “Sending periodic SMS ‘flash fundraising challenges’ offered an opportunity to reinvigorate our Dashers through a multichannel approach.”
This multichannel approach is central to O’Lea’s engagement strategy. “To us, donor engagement is a dialogue. We strive to always keep our donors informed and engaged across every channel, and create a better experience through every donor’s interaction with our organization.”
The decision to use text message was an easy one for OHS — 96% of text messages are read within 3 minutes. But equally important, Twilio for Salesforce could be implemented with limited resources, an important consideration for the small team.
After the final canine crossed the finish line, it was clear that OHS’s bet on attendee engagement paid off. “We saw an 84% increase in the number of participants, a 24% increase in the number of donations, and a 6.6% increase in the total amount raised,” says O’Lea.
SMS and email incentives helped energize dozens of new teams to fundraise. One of their top fundraising teams, Dashing Doggie Doctors, a vet group from At Home Veterinary Services raised $13,800 for the event.
OHS is now looking to Twilio to increase their capacity to connect with the public where and when it matters most: time-sensitive crisis response efforts to rescue animals in need. “Since we have more than 130 certified disaster responders, in addition to a commissioned animal cruelty investigations team, we also plan on deploying SMS for our rescue and relief efforts,” says O’Lea.
What is O’Lea’s advice for teams looking to add text messaging to their communications mix? “Start simple. Find ways to integrate SMS into your existing communication plan. Twilio for Salesforce helped us to seamlessly incorporate bulk SMS into our Doggie Dash messaging using the Salesforce campaigns.”
Visit Oregon Humane Society to learn more and contribute to their work.