“I gave birth in a filthy stall. I loved my babies so much, but the man would take each baby from me to kill. I would hear each one scream out for me…the worst sound a mother can possibly hear.” –Audrey sheep
With powerful words like these, emotions run high when Farm Sanctuary (FS) staff rush to save farm animals in need. The on-the-ground narrative + actual life and death situations = a quick and generous outpouring of support from FS donors. But the organization can’t rely on unpredictable rescue-driven fundraising alone. They also need donors to support FS’s ongoing work to help ease farm animal suffering.
Additionally, FS had struggled to find topics that resonated with supporters during lighter fundraising months in early fall. To fill this void and replicate the success of urgent rescue campaigns, we created an Annual Giving Day campaign.
Since 2017, this online campaign has raised funds to provide a certain number of meals for FS’s animal residents in time for World Farm Animals Day on October 2. We design symbolic ask amounts (e.g., $55 = a month’s food for 2 cows), set an urgent deadline, and offer a special matching gift. And each year performance improves.
But the real “X factor” in this campaign is the stories – and the accompanying photos – of the rescued animals who have gotten a second chance at life with Farm Sanctuary. We want donors to understand how much their love and support helps. A note from Pippi cow (signed with her hoof print) reads: “I am so grateful for every meal, every hug, every breath of fresh air, and every day in the sunshine you have provided for me here at Farm Sanctuary.” And who can imagine living without those?
And this Giving Day keeps on giving! Because FS prioritized email deliverability and cut disengaged supporters from the most recent campaign the quantity was smaller, but the universe was much more productive! From 2017-2019, the Giving Day campaign has grossed more than double the revenue. Average gifts increased nearly 50% and response rates have increased by 40%! Email open rates improved by 52% and click-through rates have nearly doubled.
The Annual Giving Day campaign has become a pillar of Farm Sanctuary’s digital fundraising efforts and continues to be one of the highest-grossing multi-channel series each year. And, most important, hundreds of rescued animals at Farm Sanctuary have become the happy, free creatures they were born to be!