April 2020 was a scary time. The world was reeling from COVID-19, and there was an overwhelming urge to crawl under the covers, snuggle a kitten or puppy, and emerge again when it was safe. Of course, retreating was never an option for the nonprofit sector and especially not for the Humane Society of Sarasota County. We could not give up on the animals in our care, nor could we close ourselves off from the public when they still needed services for their pets. We simply had to keep going as safely as possible. So we did.
The Giving Challenge had always been akin to Christmas: a day of generosity and excitement. How, we wondered, would it be in this new 2020 reality? Would anyone want to donate? Was it insensitive to even ask for donations at a time like this?
We did not have the answers, but the public's response to our earlier efforts to clear our shelter prior to the stay-at-home order and the outpouring of foster applications had shown us that people still cared. So we decided to infuse our campaign with light-hearted, feel-good messaging and a nod to the overwhelming craziness of the moment. Thus, "Be the One to Donate and Chill" was born. Our Netflix-inspired campaign drew inspiration from our HSSC original programming---the success stories and happy tails that result from our work. We had great fun coming up with televison puns for our programs: "Barks and Recreation" for our obedience courses; "Dinners, Drive-ups, and Donations" for our pet food pantry; and "Touched by an Animal" for our pet therapy program, among others. We took a creative deep dive, and it paid off. We secured a generous matching donor and a business partnership, and we planned a fun synchoronized streaming movie night on social media. On the big day, we watched our donations grow and our name move up the leaderboard---shocked, amazed, grateful. More than 807 individual supporters contributed to HSSC---more than any previous Giving Challenge---by a long shot. When all was said and done, we raised $133,054 and tied for best overall campaign.
April 2020 was a scary time, but for 24 hours on April 28-29, we were joyful. And that joy and the money raised made all the difference that season for the animals, the staff, and all who benefit from the Humane Society of Sarasota County.
The Giving Challenge gave us purpose.
The GIving Challenge gave us funding.
The Giving Challenge gave us hope.
For more about the Humane Society of Sarasota County, visit hssc.org/give/giving-challenge