How the Toronto Humane Society turned the dog days of summer into fundraising success!

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As Canadians head out to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, charities across the country face the same recurring challenge every year; as temperatures rise, donations dip and leave charities in the lurch when trying to continue their important work straight through the dog days of summer. It’s a problem facing numerous charities like the Toronto Humane Society, who have leveraged the Great Canadian Giving Challenge to solve some of their summer fundraising woes.

Celebrating its fourth year, the Great Canadian Giving Challenge gives all registered Canadian charities the chance to win $10,000 for their charity. Starting on June 1st through June 30th, every $1 donated on and is an automatic entry to win.

The annual campaign is now a fundamental fundraising program for many charities like the Toronto Humane Society. Why? Because it provides donors with the added incentive to give to their favourite cause to enter them for a chance to win, while also supporting their charitable mission.

In 2017, the Great Canadian Giving Challenge co-hosted by CanadaHelps and GIV3 saw an 83 percent increase in donations when compared to the first year of the contest in 2014. More than 77,700 donors gave to over 10,000 qualifying charities that were entered to win, raising more than $9.9 million.

As for the Toronto Humane Society, last year they raised $11,100 in donations while leveraging the challenge, and this year, they are aiming to do it again with a fundraising goal of $10,000 that will help care for hundreds of animals in need.

“[The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is] a very important aspect to our summer fundraising program as we do see a dip in donations around this time of year,” said Rosie, Integrated Direct Marketing Manager at the Toronto Humane Society. “We don’t get many matched funding opportunities so this is one of the only times we can offer donors the possibility of making their donation go even further.”

So, how did the Toronto Humane Society use the Great Canadian Giving Challenge to give their summer fundraising a boost? Rosie shared with us their recipe for success:


Put your best foot forward with your website. Starting June 1st through June 30th, the Toronto Humane Society updated the banner on the homepage of their website to promote the contest to site visitors which featured a direct link for donors to give. “We also had a button at the top of the website in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge colours, which said ‘Help us win $10,000!’,” said Rosie. “This linked to information about the challenge on our website.”


Get ready to get social! The Toronto Humane Society posted frequently on their social media channels to remind their supporters to enter them to win. “In the last week of the challenge there was one post on the penultimate day and two posts (morning and evening) on the final day of the challenge,” said Rosie who used both images and video to promote the contest to their followers. “We also did a few boosted Facebook posts so the posts would get more reach to our followers; these were the posts at the end of the challenge as they had more urgency.”


Shout from the rooftops with an email campaign. Email reminders played a huge part in the Toronto Humane Society’s Great Canadian Giving Challenge campaign. Starting on June 1st, emails were sent to subscribers asking for their support. Another campaign was sent 10 days before the challenge ended, and two emails were sent on the last day of the contest in the morning and in the evening appealing for last minute support. According to Rosie, “the ask amounts in the e-blast were tailored to the donor’s giving history (so low value donors were given $5 = 5 entries, $10 = 10 entries etc., while higher value donors had higher prompts such as $50 = 50 entries).”

Remember to say thank you. “Even if you don’t win the $10,000, let your supporters know their donation still made a huge difference to your cause,“ said Rosie. Send thank you letters, give donors a call, or post your fundraising total for the month on your website or social media—there are so many ways to give thanks.

As for grand plans for this year, Rosie and the rest of the team at the Toronto Humane Society are ready to participate again in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge this June.

“We will probably stick to a similar formula regarding the amount of times promoting the challenge on each channel,” said Rosie. “One thing I would like to do differently is earmark a particular fundraising need for the challenge – so for example, a piece of equipment needed in our veterinary hospital or the start of a new animal welfare program.”

Is your charity ready to join the challenge this June? Learn how your charity can participate in this year’s Great Canadian Giving Challenge by

This post was also published on Hilborn by CanadaHelps


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