Since 2003, the Daniel P. Cosgrove Animal Shelter in Branford, CT has rescued countless homeless animals along the Connecticut shoreline and surrounding vicinity. The shelter’s namesake, Daniel Cosgrove (1917 – 2016) was a zealous community leader and devoted animal lover who was rarely seen without multiple dogs at his side. Inspired by his passion and kindness, staff, and volunteers, together with support from the Town of Branford, provide some of the best animal control and shelter services available in the state, offering programs that educate, inform, and inspire people to take responsible care of their pets and treat them with the kindness they deserve.
Seventeen years ago, a 2600 square foot animal shelter was a dream come true for the residents of Branford, CT. Committed to ‘Saving Lives, One Animal at a Time,’ volunteers rallied behind a unique idea at the time – a municipal animal shelter devoted to both public safety and pet adoption. Innovating a formula for success, the shelter encapsulated numerous forward-thinking concepts:
Success was sure fire. It is no surprise that today the Daniel Cosgrove Animal Shelter treats over 700 animals annually. More than 10,000 people a year visit the shelter which is five-times higher than most municipal shelters.
But with growth, comes challenges.
The current shelter with its small lobby, cramped administrative offices, and limited storage is overcrowded and constrained. The shelter’s single entrance which admits sick pets also greets school groups and visitors. Animal cruelty investigations and pet adoptions are often handled simultaneously in one 6’ x 12’ common space. Both safety and confidentiality are compromised by the small footprint. Further impacting the shelter’s progress is the inadequate parking and restricted outdoor grounds for dog walks and pet exercise.
The community yearned for an expanded shelter that is safe and supportive of both animals and people. A steering committee was created, and project costs were estimated at $3 million. Through a bequest from a one generous couple and lead donors from other towns stepping up, the vision was coming together. But fundraising $1 million, especially during a pandemic, would be a high hurdle the team would have to overcome, to transform dreams into reality.
Laura Burban, Director, Daniel Cosgrove Animal Shelter, explained, “We started our capital campaign back in 2018 where it was just organizing information. It kicked-off in 2019 and then obviously COVID happened in 2020. We had a whole bunch of things planned. We had many events that were supposed to happen person-to-person. When COVID hit, we realized we had to regroup and come up with different ideas on how to reach people and include people in the process. It was not the most comfortable thing in the world because for us, we are used to seeing people in person because they can physically touch the animals, they can understand the impact of their donation, and see progress face to face. Doing something online was different for us. We were not familiar with it and not used to it.”
The Town of Branford had a few good factors in their favor: a strong, active community and more than 25K Facebook followers. But the steering committee responsible for fundraising, recognized the need to not just connect their supporters to online giving, but activate them to fundraise within the community. The committee had very clear criteria for determining the technology that would best support their lofty goals:
The Steering Committee ultimately selected OneCause Peer-to-Peer Platform to support their six-month capital campaign.
Burban shared, “The biggest thing was OneCause seemed more helpful. The personalities that were involved were a big part of our decision. For us, it was ease of use. There were people to talk to and people who answered us.”
The Daniel Cosgrove Animal Shelter created ‘Saving Lives, One Animal at a Time,’ #cosgrovesavinglives with their peer-to-peer software. Their entire online giving environment mirrored their friendly and energetic community.
Let’s take a look at how they created a warm and welcoming online giving space.
Compelling Welcome Page
Multiple Giving Opportunities
Friendly Competition to Motivate Giving
“We wanted to make sure we were being thoughtful and hitting on every group that we could.” Burbon explained. “One of the biggest things for us is our 200 – 250 volunteers who were not permitted in the building because of COVID. High school students, who would normally be involved in an internship, wanted to help. We were able to funnel these groups to the peer-to-peer platform to create their own personal pages and become ambassadors of the mission. They leveraged the platform to educate the community about the animals and tell their personal stories. It linked it all back together. The peer-to-peer platform served as both a fundraising tool and an educational tool.”
The Daniel Cosgrove Animal Shelter leveraged the robust features offered by the OneCause Peer-to-Peer platform. The easy-to-deploy solution permitted staff and volunteers to execute creatively and meet supporters where they could best contribute. Their lively online giving portal remarkably paralleled the Town of Branford’s Top Dog community.
Burbon summed it up, “People who have never given, gave.”
The results exceeded expectations:
Through easy-to-use software, they successfully created an engaged online community, as vibrant as its roots in Branford, CT. And with their tremendous success made four-legged friends including, Freedom, Remy, Milo, Suzie, Dallas, Sophie, Lloyd, Velveteen, Mufasa, Crackers, and many others, proud.
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