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Morris Animal Foundation Ties Colorado Gives Day into National Campaign

By Angela Bevacqua, Senior Communications Specialist, Community First Foundation, and featuring Jackie Poliseo, Donor Relations Specialist, Morris Animal Foundation

Q: Jackie, what does Morris Animal Foundation do?
A: We are one of the only foundations that funds animal health research. We fund scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife globally, but primarily in the United States. We fund a lot of research at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and are headquartered in Denver.

Q: Tell me about your donor base.
A: It’s mostly individuals, including pet owners and animal lovers; but sometimes researchers who are applying for research grants. A lot of veterinarian clinics the memorial program on our website where the veterinarian or client can donate to us in memory of a pet and choose one of our memorial cards. Our donors are nationwide, not just in Colorado.

Q: How do you fundraise?
A: We have two major campaigns per year, with one at the end of year (November and December). They are primarily direct mail, emails and social media, and we usually have our own match. We also have a strong event program, planned giving and giving teams.

Q: As an organization with a national presence, tell me how you incorporate Colorado Gives Day into your fundraising.
A:  Colorado Gives Day is part of our larger end-of-year “Season of Hope” campaign. Because we have national donors, we segment our mailing list to target Colorado donors when we promote Colorado Gives Day through direct mail and email. Segmenting is vital, but we also have a Colorado Gives Day slider on our webpage and do some social media so that all of our supporters are aware of our participation. With social media it’s a little tricky because of our national audience. So our social media presence focuses more on staff participation than use of our organizational sites.

Q: Do you segment your donor base in other ways?
A: Yes, we also segment it according to donor interests. For example, we want to remind golden retriever lovers that they can support the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study on Colorado Gives Day by selecting the “Program” option when they donate on We also segment donors who gave on that day last year and send them personal emails thanking them for their previous support and encouraging them to give again on Colorado Gives Day.

Q: How do you combine more than one message?
A: On our postcard to Coloradans, we highlight Colorado Gives Day on the front; on the back we promote it with “Don’t Forget” copy about our Season of Hope campaign. The Colorado Gives Day $1 Million Incentive Fund is highlighted in a shaded box.

Q: Do you also participate in #GivingTuesday?
A: Yes, our national donor base enjoys the opportunity to support Morris Animal Foundation on #GivingTuesday. This year we will able to integrate the message provided by Community First Foundation in the Nonprofit Toolkit for our Colorado donors that says “In Colorado, the way we participate in #GivingTuesday is by scheduling our Colorado Gives Day donations.”

Q: Tell us a little about your Colorado Gives Day results.
A: The amount raised has steadily increased from year to year. We had a bump in 2014 when we put more effort into it. We’re also seeing new donors. That shows us how passionate Coloradans are about Colorado Gives Day! It’s definitely worth putting effort into it.

Q: How do you steward Colorado Gives Day donors?
A: No matter the size of their donation, each one gets a handwritten thank you. Since Colorado Gives Day is around the holidays, we often write a note in our holiday card to thank them. These donors then become part of our active donor base.

Q: Anything new planned for this year?
A: Well, we plan to repeat what has been successful in the past, but like the idea of getting kids involved, too.


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