Operating across eight regions in the UK, Forever Hounds Trust is a dog-dedicated charity working towards a better future for all greyhounds and lurchers. The organisation has been rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs across the country for over 20 years, making amazing strides for animal welfare and education on greyhound, education on greyhound and lurcher needs.
Among the ways that the charity reaches out to supporters – in addition to social media and YouTube – is a newer idea which merges donor engagement and the potential for cashless fundraising. This idea manifests in the form of Dash the Donor Dog!
Dash the Donor Dog was inspired by the real rehomed dogs that accompany volunteers to events. Having rehabilitated hounds (ones comfortable around people) attend events is a great way to boost morale, take promotional photos, and create association with the charity’s logo. Forever Hounds Trust is now taking the unofficial mascot a step further. Using Good Thyngs, the charity is piloting plush toys with digitally-enabled ear tags – “Dinky Dash” if you will. With a tap or scan of a smartphone, the NFC stickers on the ear tags allow for instant donations to the charity.
Having a fundraising toy means that Forever Hounds doesn’t need to keep track of as many collection buckets, and with the Good Thyngs platform, they can change the web page connected to the toy’s tag whenever they want. This portable way of raising donations can connect with an audience, and is perfect for promotional material!
Overcoming the challenge
Volunteers have welcomed the new ideas, and the next step is encouraging people to try out these additional donation channels. “Engaging the public with a new way of giving has been a challenge,” said Jazmin Derbyshire, Fundraising Manager of Forever Hounds Trust. "In my experience the best way to receive donations is to simply ask for a donation.” According to Jazmin, reluctance to donate in new ways is not through lack of wanting to donate, and is due to lack of familiarity with the technology. Having a volunteer present to explain and demonstrate the donation process would help build supporter confidence.
Rehoming each rescue hound is a case-by case process, with steps that ensure that everything is the right fit for both the families and hounds involve. Charity donations go towards this process in addition to the food, shelter, vet care, and enrichment of the dogs being rehabilitated.
The pilot has been running for a few months and is set to continue through to the new year, with a review in February to see the results. With positive outcomes, digital donations could be expanded into the summer and utilised for warm-weather events and beyond. This is also the perfect opportunity for cash buckets to make an appearance once again.
In the future, the charity would like to also try enabling dog collars and jackets as well, something which Good Thyngs also creates.
Advice for charities
I would say to always try things. You never know if that random idea that you have might work and do really well and can build on it year on year. Don’t be scared of things failing; I think some of the best things come from when you fail. That sounds really cheesy, but it’s happened to me before. We've done certain things that haven’t quite worked as intended but actually, we've improved something else because of it. Sometimes it’s not about the thing that you’re doing, but rather the wider effect. Always try.
Jazmin Derbyshire, Fundraising Manager