After the Webinar: Yes, You Can Fundraise! Q&A with Julie Bank

Webinar presenter Julie Bank answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Yes, You Can Fundraise! Fundraising for Animal Welfare Government Agencies. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: You talked about asking, but sometimes our community members, don’t necessarily have money to give. Is it still considered a success if we get people to volunteer their time? 

Julie Bank: Well, absolutely. I mean, again, people want to support in ways that they could support. So, if somebody doesn’t financially give or can’t financially give. Then having them become a volunteer is a perfect way for them to get involved in the organization. However, even people who you think can’t give can possibly give. So, just asking a question at the counter such as, “Would you like to give an additional donation today?” Somebody gives you $5. That makes them feel really good about being part of the organization. It doesn’t have to be a $5 million gift. A $5 gift is just as important for that person to feel invested. So, don’t make judgments on who you think can give or can’t give. You should always ask. But, of course, you should always be encouraging people to not only be volunteers but to consider being foster parents or maybe consider others in the community to give if they can’t give. So, there are many ways you should create opportunities for people to get involved.


Audience Question: How would you recommend handling the argument that it’s a conflict of interest to fundraise? 

Julie Bank: So, you will hear from members of the public that you should not, that governmental entities should not fundraise because there may be taking money away from another non-profit, or because of a conflict of interest. The government allows you to fundraise. So that’s the first thing, is to think about is that you are able to fundraise. Second of all people want to give to your organization. They want you to do a better job. And sometimes the only way that you could do a better job is to fundraise. So, it’s all about how you market the communication, and you market the efforts. But for those people who don’t want to give, they’re not going to give. But you will find that the majority of the people will want to give and will want to support.


Audience Question: How do we actually convince our bosses or other government administrators that we can fundraise especially when those same administrators have been told so often in the past that they can’t fundraise? Can you walk us through that argument? 

Julie Bank: Sure. Well, first of all, you’ll want to do your research to see within the organization that you work for, and the government that you work for. Has there been any precedent? And I will promise you that there’s precedent if you look. If they have a medical department or if they have a public health department. The police departments often get donations in a variety of ways. So, if there are precedents, you’re going to want to gather that. Second of all, you’re going to create a plan to show them not only the legal statutes on why you are allowed to fundraise. But you’re going to also create the plan, as we discussed, on how you’re going to accept the funds, where the funds are going to go, how are you going to show the data about the funds that you got, and how you’re going to communicate with your donors so that the leadership understands your entire plan of action as part of this process. So, you check the precedents. You create a written plan. You talk to all the different people that you needed to talk to, including the attorneys and the budget office, finance, and council people, and you bring it all together. And when they say, No, you don’t take no. You can continue to talk about it and continue to dialog about it. And if you can’t, whatsoever, then the next step would be to consider the 501c-3 route.


Audience Question: What you just said there in that question. So then, should we reach out to those law enforcement agencies that have that donation arm or those other government agencies that have those donation arms, and even ask them just directly, how did you do it? 

Julie Bank: Yeah, absolutely. If, once you’ve done your research and you found those arms that did, you want to connect with them and learn from them and see how they did it and see if you could structure it in a similar way, so that when you go back to your leadership, your leadership sees, oh, okay, we have these precedents because the fire department is taking donations. And they’re doing it in this way, and you’re setting it up in the same way. That makes it very easy because there should be no reason for them to say no, at that point.


Audience Question: How long does it take to set up the infrastructure, particularly creating that 501c-3? Is this weeks, months, or years?

Julie Bank: And you’ll want to find yourself an attorney who can actually help you draw up the bylaws and draw up the MOU and draw up the infrastructure pieces that you need to fill out to get a 501c-3. You’ll want to check with your attorney general or your Secretary of State in your place to find out what their process is and how long it generally takes. But I’ve seen 501c-3s set up in two months, and in some other cases, it takes six months. It just kind of depends on your particular state and how fast they move.


Audience Question: Can fundraising be as simple as an Amazon wish list, or a GoFundMe page? 

Julie Bank: It can be as simple as that you don’t need to get complicated in your fundraising. But just remember, before you even start that, you do need to have your infrastructure in place. So, you do need to have your data capturing and how the money’s coming in, where it’s going, and who’s taking it, and how you’re keeping track of it. It has to be in place before you ever throw up a GoFundMe page or an Amazon wish list. Because if you’re going to get, for example, the Amazon wish list and all these donations come in, how are you going to thank those donors? Where is the actual item going? Who’s going to be responsible for logging it in? How is it being used, How are you making sure nobody’s stealing it? All of these things need to be thought about before you even start.


Audience Question: You talked about a veterinarian who comes in and donates some of their services. When that happens, should we be calculating the value of that service, and if so, how? Do we just ask them directly? How much they would normally charge for their spay and neutering services? What’s your approach? 

Julie Bank: Yeah, it is ultimately up to the person giving the donation to value their own services. So, if you want to ask them what they normally charge for it, let’s just say I’m lowballing, but let’s just say $50 an hour, you’ll put it down as $50 an hour. If they say $5 million an hour, you’ll put it down as $5 million an hour. It’s what they value the service because ultimately, it’s them who’s going to have the ability to take the right that off on their taxes as a charitable gift. On your end, you’re just going to show that as the value of how many donations you brought in throughout the year.


Audience Question: Some Attorneys opined that in California, Health and Safety Code Section 121690, prohibits the use of owner information obtained through animal licensing for any other purpose. Does that prohibit solicitations for donations in licensing renewals, or using that database as a potential donor database? 

Julie Bank: So, the way you describe it, I would read that as… What I’m suggesting is that you put a request for a donation on the actual license application, not necessarily use that as a donor database. So, it will be up to them whether they actually want to donate or not, but you’re not going to use those names for any other purpose other than licensing e-mails. But every community is different, so you’ll want to check your community. If that’s it in California, then you’re going to want to check what it is in your community.

Host: So, it’s like here in Washington state where when you go through and you fill out your DMV, a car licensing paperwork and such as a little tick box:  “would you like to make a donation to the State Parks Association” or whatever? And you either tick the box, yes, or tick the box. It’s really just that simple.

Julie Bank: Right. You do need to opt-in. Basically, so using those names to send donation requests does not really give consent. But asking that question on your licensing application is open for anybody to say yes or no.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Yes, You Can Fundraise! Fundraising for Animal Welfare Government Agencies.


Additional Resources
1 year ago
Look for the Open Gate: Providing ‘In the Moment’ Animal Education for Your Community
The majority of American households have pets, and pets are seen as an integral part of the human fa […]
1 year ago
Social Listening for Social Content for Animal Shelters
Animal welfare organizations and the communities they serve have a symbiotic relationship. The commu […]
2 years ago
Social Media and Disaster Related Events for Animal Shelters
Coordinating efforts amidst disasters and critical events means unexpected turns of events and other […]
3 years ago
Animals in Disasters: How to Help Your Community
Probably one of the best developments that we’ve seen in the last few years related to critical ev […]