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Tips for Planning a Fundraising Calendar for your Pet Rescue Group

Given how much Americans love their pets, it should be no surprise how wildly popular pet calendars are. People (and especially pet owners) just love to decorate their walls with photos of adorable dogs and cats!

It should also be no surprise that calendar fundraising is an extremely popular and effective tool for humane society chapters, local SPCA groups, and other pet rescue and animal welfare organizations. At Yearbox, we have found dog and cat rescue calendars are one of the largest segments of our nonprofit calendar business. Many of our best customers are animal rescue organizations. And they come back to us year after year for our pet rescue calendar printing, so we know they must be effective fundraisers.

Animal Rescue Calendar Fundraising and Pets — a Great Fit!

Of course, the cute puppy and kitty photos are one reason for the instant appeal of animal & pet rescue calendars. Another reason, however, is the fact that these calendars tell great stories. Pet rescue groups usually use photos of animals that are up for adoption or that have already been successfully placed. In both cases, there is usually a heart-tugging story to go with the photo (although often enough, the photo on its own tells all the story it needs to). It may be just a short sentence or two, but the story adds interest to the calendar, making it that much more appealing. At the same time, it reinforces the rescue organization’s message, so that anyone looking at the calendar can’t help but appreciate the group’s mission.

So many ways to raise money with a calendar!

Let’s say your costs for making the calendar are $7 per calendar (our standard wall calendars cost $6.39 each, plus shipping for 500 calendars), if you sell them for $14 each, then clearly you are making $7 per calendar in profit for your organization. Can you charge more than $14 each? Or maybe you are thinking that $10 should be the maximum price? You have to figure that one out based on how much your customers can afford and on how much they might be willing to pay a little extra for a calendar that supports a worthy cause. Remember also that the more calendars you buy, the cheaper the per-calendar price, and therefore the more profit you will have.

However, before you make all your calculations based on calendar sales, you should bear in mind that a calendar gives you other fundraising opportunities as well. Our most successful animal welfare fundraising clients have broadened their fundraising base with some or all the following:

  • Advertising — Placing ads (usually business card-sized ads) either on every month of the calendar or on the extra page at the end of the calendar is a great way to increase fundraising profits. Solicit advertising from your members and supporters first. Pet stores, pet groomers, and veterinarians are also often happy to advertise. Since ads are paid for up front, they can help to offset printing costs. Make sure that your printer does not charge extra to incorporate advertising. (We don’t!)
  • Photo Contest Entry Fee — A photo contest lets you collect great images for your calendar and also helps generate interest in your organization. With a grand prize winner for the cover and winners for each month, people will feel good about their chances of winning. An entry fee (maybe $10 per photo) encourages people to submit quality photos and enhances your fundraising potential.
  • Photo Contest Voting — You can have your contest juried by local artists or photographers and make an event of it. Alternatively, you can keep it all online and let people vote for their favorite image. The online route may tilt the results towards those who are most active online and away from the most artistic images, but this approach can yield widespread interest in your contest, especially when combined with a social marketing campaign. (Vote appeals can spread rapidly through Facebook.) Important: make sure that every vote cast is also accompanied by an appeal to purchase a calendar and/or donate directly to your organization.
  • Photo Contest Voting Fee — You can monetize the voting phase by charging a dollar per vote for online voting. Make your contestants show their love for their pets by opening their wallets. We have seen contests where individuals have bought thousands of votes to make sure that their pets were winners. Important: make sure that the voting page includes social media tools so that it is easy for contest participants to encourage their friends and family on Facebook to vote for their pet. (There are tools available online (both hosted services and DIY software) that make holding a photo contest easy. We’ll be posting again soon with information on those tools.)

Remember that advertising and photo contests are great ways to increase the fundraising potential for your calendar. But they are also important because they give more people a vested interest in your calendar project. And the more people are interested, the more successful it will be for you.

Have you held a pet rescue calendar fundraiser? If so, how does your experience compare? Do you have any other ideas? Please share!

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