Muttville Saves Monthly Donor Program Using RaiseDonors 

A conversation with Erick Smith, Development Operations Manager for Muttville.

For animal shelter volunteer Sherri Franklin, it was frustrating to see older dogs always getting passed up for adoption.

They had great personalities. They were potty-trained. They were great with kids.

But the longer a dog stayed in the shelter, the more likely it was that they wouldn’t get adopted.

There was a stigma associated with senior dogs that made it hard to find homes for them. Sherri decided that someone needed to do something for these beautiful senior dogs.

In 2007, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue was born in her house in San Francisco. Within that same year, Muttville saved 27 senior dogs from being euthanized.

Today, they save approximately 1,100 dogs per year. Earlier in 2020, they celebrated saving their 8,000th senior dog.

Limited User Seats, Limited Results

Starting out in 2007, Muttville relied on the checks of Sherri’s close friends, who believed in her and the work that she did.

There was no online fundraising or even a fundraising program to speak of. As Sherri and her team of volunteers grew, so did their fundraising program.

As with all scrappy nonprofit startups, no one was thinking of how to organize the various fundraising tools to be more efficient.

They just did whatever they needed to do with the staff and resources they had to save one more dog.

Eventually, they began taking online donations through Sherri’s personal PayPal account, which soon became their nonprofit corporate PayPal account.

Their CRM was limited in features—but even worse, they had to pay per seat license.

With their tight budget, they could only afford two seat licenses. As a result, only two people could be logged into the system at a time—and no one ever knew if the other seat was occupied at the time.

This meant that every time someone in the field or at home logged in to the CRM, someone else would get kicked off before they finished their work!

Monthly Program Attrition

Although Muttville is a relatively small organization, they have a lively monthly donor program.

In fact, their monthly donors are the heart and soul of their fundraising strategy. Everything builds on this monthly revenue program.

Unfortunately, every month, Muttville saw more and more recurring donors disappear.

The monthly attrition rate was a real problem as it ate away at the organization’s financial lifeblood.

Worse yet, the attrition wasn’t due to anything that Muttville could control.

Recurring donors were disappearing due to changes in their credit or debit cards.

Even if a donor’s credit card number remained the same, if their card expired, the donation would no longer go through.

At first, attrition was small—but soon, they were seeing up to 100 cancellations per month.

At the time, the only way to resolve the problem was to track down each recurring donor who had dropped off, call them, and try to get them to renew their gift with their new credit card information over the phone.

Muttville is a lean organization with limited staff and an even more limited budget. This meant that quite often, a volunteer would have to call at least 100 donors to manually renew their recurring gift.

This laborious process kept Muttville’s volunteers on the phone for approximately 30 hours every month—and some donors would not renew.

But there was no way out of it. The monthly donor program was too important to let go!

That’s when Muttville’s Development Operations Manager Erick Smith began to look for a new solution.

Erick wanted to find new fundraising tools that would not only save their monthly donor program from credit card attrition but also improve their overall fundraising strategy.

While it meant investing hours of time in research and purchasing new tools, Erick knew that there had to be a better way of doing things.

A better way would save Muttville both time and money, allowing them to prevent more senior dogs from being “put down.”

Finding RaiseDonors

Muttville began a discovery process to find the tools they needed to save precious volunteer staff time, open up their CRM for everyone to use, and integrate their digital tools for greater efficiency.

They researched all the major players in the nonprofit CRM space before eventually discovering Virtuous CRM.

Virtuous CRM allowed Muttville to scale their use of their nonprofit CRM while keeping everything incredibly easy to use.

With Virtuous, they didn’t have to worry about seat licenses or getting kicked off because someone else logged in!

Now, their grant manager, development staff, CEO, and even board members could all log in and work within the CRM at the same time without a problem.

Soon, they discovered RaiseDonors’ direct integration with Virtuous.

RaiseDonors’ full integration with Virtuous CRM meant that Muttville could take online donations through RaiseDonors and see all of the gift and donor information immediately in their CRM.

No delay. No user error in data entry. No more misspelled names!

All the data was there in the right fields just as soon as the gift was made.

The best part was how little training was required to use RaiseDonors.

RaiseDonors is very easy to look at. It’s intuitive and very user-friendly. There’s no huge ramp-up time for training purposes. Even if you’re not an expert on it, you can get through pretty far without an extensive deep dive in training and onboarding. – Erick Smith, Muttville

Finding RaiseDonors couldn’t have come sooner for Muttville.

Since implementing the RaiseDonors solution, online gift volume has increased by 280% year over year.

While the lion’s share of Muttville donors give by check still, more and more are going online to give in response to Muttville’s quarterly direct mail appeals.

There is a definite trend among Muttville donors as they become more confident in the security and convenience of online giving.

And RaiseDonors is a big part of making this trend happen.

When donors who are used to writing come to the online giving environment, it can be a jarring experience.

Donation pages built on complicated and inflexible platforms create uncertainty in donors who can’t figure out intuitively how it all works.

Complexity provokes anxiety in the donor and suppresses online giving.

But the ease of using a RaiseDonors donation page gives them the confidence they need to give online.

RaiseDonors exudes a level of professionalism, but also a level of intimacy and familiarity. They see you as a buttoned-up organization. You look like you know what you’re doing – you’re professional! You’re going to be a good steward of their gift and be responsible with how that money is being applied to your mission. 

When donors have more hoops to jump through to give, they’re more likely to give up on making the gift.

While ease of use and peace of mind for donors were big wins for Muttville, sorting out the monthly donor program was still the biggest priority.

Fortunately, RaiseDonors helped there, too, in a big way.

Donor Attrition is a Thing of the Past

The problem with expiring credit cards for recurring gifts isn’t going away anytime soon – but the hassle and high attrition rate did!

Instead of calling each donor one by one, RaiseDonors finds donor’s new credit card information through their bank records and updates the gift so the monthly payment is still withdrawn from the donor’s card without missing a single gift.

The hours saved in phone calls meant that Muttville volunteers could do more of what they originally signed up for – saving senior dogs.

It also meant lower attrition rates as donors don’t have to reconsider their monthly gift.

That means a solid monthly giving program for years to come!

A Joy to Work With

For Erick, though, one of the best things about the RaiseDonors solution is working with the RaiseDonors staff.

I was pleasantly surprised in the sales process – how nice and accommodating they were. And having done sales before, I know that sometimes that’s just the front end and it doesn’t always stay that way. But it hasn’t changed! It’s a real refreshing experience. Fundraising, development – none of this stuff has to be stodgy, traditional, and boring. The people at RaiseDonors are dynamic and responsive. And that’s what is refreshing about this relationship.

RaiseDonors is committed to helping nonprofits further their missions by raising more donors for their cause—and it’s been a joy seeing that happen for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue!

Muttville has been able to raise 280% more online donors year over year, plus they’ve slashed their monthly donor attrition rate using RaiseDonors online giving solutions.

And as a result, more senior dogs are going to find the loving homes they deserve.