11160-C1 South Lakes, # 720
Reston, VA 20191
Annual operating budget: $25,000
GoodDogz.org is a Reston, Va.-based nonprofit that informs people about dog selection and care, and assists canine rescue groups with a variety of responsibilities. Founded in 2003 by Beth Jackson, GoodDogz is — for now, at least — 100 percent volunteer-based. Jackson, who has spent many years working at animal sheters, believes public education is crucial to establishing solid and humane relationships between people and their dogs — and to making sure dogs remain in good homes instead of going to shelters. Here, Jackson talks with FundRaising Success about development victories and difficulties her organization has faced so far, and outlines its plans for growth going forward.
FundRaising Success: How do you fund your mission?
Beth Jackson: We primarily hold fundraising events such as dog walks, pet photos with Santa and an annual gala. We also accept cash donations — on- or offline — and vehicle donations. We are also in the process of approval for the Combined Federal Campaign. [CFC is a workplace charity program that promotes philanthropy among federal employees.]
FS: What are some of your fundraising strengths?
BJ: GoodDogz.org has been able to establish a solid foothold in the metro D.C. area by offering consistent, effective animal welfare programs and events. By differentiating ourselves from traditional animal welfare groups, we still have that “new and interesting” appeal that is especially helpful.
FS: Can you think of any fundraising weaknesses?
BJ: Our fundraising efforts are primarily event-driven, which is resource-intensive. We hope to expand our reach through other avenues such as social networking, traditional giving, planned giving, etc.
FS: What are some new ways in which you plan to attract new donors and other supporters in the near future?
BJ: We are currently developing a campaign that will allow us to utilize social media as an effective way to reach potential donors and supporters. We plan to roll out this program in early 2008. We are also assembling a group of influential members of the DC/MD/VA (and potentially national) community to assist us in taking our fundraising to a new target audience.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
BJ: We truly believe that the “proof is in the puddin.” By offering effective, consistent programs and events that help rescue groups put dogs in loving, forever homes, we’ve done our job. When the public sees how well these programs work, they want to get involved. It’s such an easy formula, but execution is key.
FS: How do you reach out to supporters and potential supporters in ways other than purely fundraising?
BJ: Funny you should ask! We are currently in the process of restructuring/redesigning our Web site to truly take advantage of the variety of social-media tools available to nonprofits. The new campaign will include blogs, a MySpace network, flickr groups, etc. We hope that by taking advantage of these free tools, we can widen our support network from primarily regional to a national reach. We believe that social networking is a huge opportunity for nonprofits to expand their reach in a very affordable, effective fashion.
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks you’ve faced along the way? Things you would do differently with your fundraising?
BJ: Each year we host an annual gala. It is our primary fundraiser of the year. Although it is quite popular, planning and holding an event of this magnitude is quite an undertaking. It requires a lot of resources and planning. Our upcoming event on Feb. 16 will be our fourth gala, and over the years we have learned what it takes to make it successful. But had we known how involved an event like this can be, we may have taken a different route. So the moral is: Do your homework when planning a large-scale event or campaign, and make the best decision for your organization.
FS: What other route might you have gone?
BJ: We have discussed several options including smaller themed events like a barbecue or a beach-blanket bingo party. Events like these are a little less resource-intensive and offer less cost per head for attendees, but may draw a larger, more diverse crowd and achieve the same results.
FS: What advice would you give to nonprofits similar to yours in size and annual operating budget?
BJ: You can do an incredible amount of good in your community with very little resources by making smart decisions and successfully executing your programs — big or small. Learn to truly harness the diverse strengths of everyone in your organization. Most of all, be patient — small organizations can make a huge impact with the right vision and goals. FS