We never expected a warm and fuzzy Instagram post to materialize into:
- Brio’s first client project outside our home state of Minnesota
- Marketing help for an organization that rescues and finds homes for dogs and puppies
But it did! As dog lovers and animal adoption advocates, we were thrilled when this opportunity came our way.
Today we’re sharing the full story not only because the project and results are relevant to other nonprofits facing similar challenges, but also because this project had an impact on Brio too.
For the TLDR crowd, here are the takeaways:
- Golden Bond Rescue is incredible. Go follow and support them immediately.
- Brio conducted a survey of Golden Bond Rescue’s massive social media following and email subscribers.
- Results showed a capacity for giving on social media, an interest in some potential new fundraising initiatives, and an affirmation that email subscribers truly are superfans.
- Ultimately, Brio was reluctant to provide recommendations for which fundraising initiatives to pursue … but for a good reason: an immediate need for strategy.
Here’s the backstory
Scout the Golden Retriever, one of our favorite Instagram follows, inspired us to repost a photo to encourage our followers to nominate a nonprofit for our #NonprofitShowcase.
To our delight, Scout the Golden Retriever responded by nominating Golden Bond Rescue, a golden retriever rescue based in Oregon. We fell in love with what they do and featured them a couple months later.
Golden Bond Rescue responded to the #NonprofitShowcase post to thank us, and we connected with Executive Director Jill Groves over our shared devotion to dog rescue.
During our first call with Jill, we learned that Golden Bond Rescue was facing the same challenge that all nonprofits grapple with: generating the sustaining funding support needed to further their mission.
Although Golden Bond Rescue has saved over 3,100 dogs and puppies including many from the horrific meat trade in Asia, Jill was adamant that they intend to do so much more. Their dreams are admirable and achievable with the right approach, and we wanted to help get them there.
Here’s what we did
It was hard not to notice Golden Bond Rescue’s massive social media audience: a whopping 23k+ Instagram followers and 8k+ Facebook followers! We could see why: photos and videos of rambunctious puppies, stories from happy families about successful adoptions, and welcoming and genuine messages that made their commitment to their cause crystal clear.
We wondered…how could all that virtual support be translated into fundraising support?
Then we started bouncing in our chairs cheering “TIME FOR A SURVEY” over and over again in unison while throwing confetti in the air. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it would be a lie to say we don’t get excited over surveys (we’re marketing folk after all).
But in all seriousness, this was the best way for us to help Golden Bond Rescue. Before starting any new initiatives or changing the existing donation approach, we needed to learn more about their audience. For added perspective, we decided to survey Golden Bond Rescue’s email subscriber base too, and boy did that turn out to be a good idea!
Working with Jill, we identified the Project Goals:
- Better understand the demographics, attitudes, and motivations of social media followers and email subscriber base
- Gauge follower and email subscriber interest in potential fundraising initiatives
- Identify which fundraising initiatives resonate with which audience segments
- Provide recommendations for which initiatives to actively pursue
And the Project Approach:
- Two surveys (one for social media, one for email)
- Landing page on Golden Bond Rescue website
- Social media & email campaigns to promote surveys
- Results analysis & synthesis
- Final report with key findings & implications
(Pictured: example of a Facebook post and proof that we had way too much fun designing for this project)
Here’s what we learned
Social media followers are givers.
The capacity and willingness to give is strong among Golden Bond Rescue social media followers. The majority of respondents said that they give regularly to other organizations, but many aren’t currently giving to Golden Bond Rescue. That’s what we call opportunity! Moreover, they expressed strong support for Golden Bond Rescue’s activities and mission, and showed bona fide interest in some proposed fundraising initiatives.
Email subscribers are super fans and it shows.
Those who have signed up for Golden Bond Rescue emails consider themselves to be super fans, which is reflected in their engagement (also following on social media and sky-high open and click-through rates on emails) and their donations.
Overall, we were able to provide some interesting insights for Golden Bond Rescue, but when we sat down to develop our recommendations about those fundraising initiatives we had been contemplating, we realized something important.
“What’s that, Brio?” You ask.
Here’s why making recommendations didn’t feel right
Golden Bond Rescue needs a strategy. Without an overarching marketing strategy, we had no idea where a new fundraising initiative would fit the overall goals of the organization. Our recommendations without strategic support could become “random acts of marketing” that actually hurt Golden Bond Rescue by wasting their scarce resources AND WE WOULD NEVER DO THAT.
Super important note: Golden Bond Rescue is not alone. In fact, a lack of marketing strategy is the most common problem we have encountered when talking with nonprofits and social enterprises, and the most validating reason for Brio’s recent shift in service offerings.
Golden Bond Rescue’s community of followers and superfans is ready to keep supporting their amazing work and help Jill achieve some of her big dreams. We hope to continue working with Golden Bond Rescue (paws crossed!) to build a customized, holistic marketing strategy that leverages some of the golden opportunities identified in this survey project.
And that’s as heartwarming as the pile of puppies in the Instagram post that started it all.