It all started with $5,000 and a dream to save the precious lives of dogs in need of a second chance. In September 2011, Darren Binder, Dave Liedman, and Gina Tomaselli raised enough money to turn their dream into a reality and founded City Dogs Rescue (CDR) in Washington, D.C.
Almost five years later, the group went from setting a goal of rescuing three dogs a month to rescuing as many as 90 a month. Last year, they rescued over 700 dogs. When Binder spoke to us about his organization’s success, he highlighted the incredible dedication of so many volunteers, and the organization’s strong social media presence.
“Most aspects of our rescue, including fundraising, seeking fosters, publicizing events, and bringing exposure to dogs in urgent need, are built around our use of social media,” Binder said. “We have found Facebook, in particular, to be a highly effective mode of communication to focus attention on urgent needs, as well as day-to-day, operational matters.”
Since the establishment of CDR, its Facebook page has grown to more than 43,000 page likes. It builds a community comprised of local Washingtonians and pet lovers from all over the country and the world. CDR established an active foster and adopter Facebook group, consisting of a tight-knit community of more than 2,000 members. Here, CDR serves as a forum for fosters and adopters to post updates and seek advice. Local veterinarians also participate in various discussions. Plus, the group allows CDR to have direct, immediate contact with closely aligned supporters about volunteer opportunities, fostering needs, and fundraising efforts.
In addition to posting updates, YouCaring fundraisers, and event information to its Facebook page and to other social media sites, the CDR team invests money to boost its Facebook posts occasionally.
When explaining why Facebook advertising is vital to its success, Binder said, “Like many rescues, we receive no government support and rely completely on donations from supporters. Fundraising is critical to our operations, and without Facebook and other social media sites, it would be very difficult to support and maintain our operations. Unlike other nonprofits, we have not done any direct mail solicitations.”
Dogs in need of rescue and adoption now have a second chance, thanks to Facebook, primarily, and its ability to connect people to CDR. Because of this, Facebook posts are crucial for the organization to help rescue these dogs from being put down. However, due to changes in Facebook’s algorithm a few years ago, CDR, like many any other organizations, have seen a trend of its posts generally receiving less exposure. Therefore, when regular posts are not given sufficient exposure, CDR will pay to boost its posts as necessary.
Binder says it is very important to focus on the message when creating an ad. Quality photos are also important, but each ad should relay the appropriate sense of urgency to readers. Binder also mentioned that while CDR tells the full story on their YouCaring fundraiser pages, he typically keeps the Facebook message to a shorter length to retain the reader’s’ interest.
In addition to creating ads around their YouCaring fundraisers, CDR thinks outside of the box when it comes to attracting new Facebook audiences.
Every year, the organization hosts an online auction, where people can bid on certain items and the proceeds go to CDR. With nearly 400 items, ranging from jewelry to a three-night resort stay in Maui, Hawaii, CDR spreads the word about their event to receive the most bids possible.
For the online auction Facebook ads, Binder said they target people who are interested in Hawaii, and also newlyweds looking for the perfect honeymoon destination to find that desired audience who will spend money to help their organization.
Facebook advertising is a powerful tool that many rescue organizations have yet to use. When asked what one piece of advice Binder would give to other groups, he said, “Be aggressive in your fundraising efforts. The costs in running a quality rescue, particularly with respect to medical expenses, can be daunting. If you’re going to be concerned about too many posts, too many tags, or inviting too many people to an event, you may have a harder time raising funds to help dogs in need. Obviously, everything is a balance.”
After speaking to Binder about the success of CDR with its use of social media, we highly recommend coupling your YouCaring fundraising with social media posts and advertising as necessary. Download our free Crowdfunding Social Media Checklist today to get started with your promoting your fundraiser.