Yesterday I read a story in the Daily Mail UK about a dog named Lana that was so depressed over being returned to Mighty Mutts, a Toronto animal shelter, that she refused to go on walks. Of course, after you read the actual article, you see that behavior lasted for all of one day.
Compare that to the latest mailer I received from Best Friends– a no-kill sanctuary out of Utah and California, and soon to open a shelter in NYC. Best Friends sent me their holiday catalog with different “gifts” I could purchase that would help the animals Best Friends cares for.
For instance, for only $50 I can buy a Welcome Gift Basket for an animal because, “After a long journey, it’s nice to have a few creature comforts waiting at your destination….. With a welcome package, you’ll make sure these things are on hand to greet new arrivals the moment they walk through the door.”
The Daily Mail story riled me up. I could feel the adrenaline rush as my anger rose. The Best Friends catalog, however, made me feel happy and useful- “look what I can do for an animal in need!”
Now do I think Best Friends actually has on hand welcome baskets for cute little kittens like the one pictured above? No. And where will my money go when I donate to Best Friends? Almost 18% of it will go to fundraising costs. Another 8% will go to administrative costs. And 74% will go toward actual animal care. (Source: CharityNavigator.org)
The stark reality is this: Anger at atrocities committed against animals riles up folks like nothing else. Some of my highest traffic days were days I ranted about some sort of animal cruelty.
But the posts that have garnered me the most consistent support are those that answer questions or make people feel good. A post from 2012 that addressed why dogs like fans still gets steady traffic.
Folks were incensed about Cecil the Lion having been killed, but the tide has waned and his murderer is back at work while other animals are being killed every day by big game hunters both at home and abroad.
So what’s the takeaway from all this? Two things.
ONE: Anger riles up the masses in the short-term, but it doesn’t keep them riled up or interested. If non-profits want to develop a long-term strategy for consistent community participation, consider leaving the tear-jerking and move toward more sleek,feel-good promotions.
TWO: Folks like to give away money during the holiday season, and there are plenty of organizations out there with sleek campaigns designed to make you feel good when you hand them your hard-earned money. Make sure the organization getting your donation today is one you’ll still feel good about 6 months from now. Before you click send, check out that organization first.