Columbus Humane

Brand Building through Fundraising

29% Increase in Average Gift

66% Increase in Sustainer donors


Columbus Humane is an animal welfare organization that investigates animal abuse cases, rescues animals, accepts animals surrendered by their owners and provides medical and adoption services for pets in Columbus, OH. They came to Phoenix Innovate in search of a fundraising approach that would allow them to significantly reduce the budget spent on acquisition and increase revenue from their current donors, but also allow them to build the Columbus Humane brand and identity.


We used our analytics and research capabilities to leverage Columbus Humane’s donor data to inform better fundraising strategies. These new insights allow for marketing strategies, creative vision and implementation that generate traction in connecting with your target audience without the ups and downs of trial and error.

We identified best performing donor segments and developed an annual fundraising plan with specific strategies and messaging to meet these objectives:

  • Increase net revenue
  • Increase average gift
  • Increase the number of sustaining donors
  • Obtain a second gift from more donors in the first year of support

Next, we developed donor-centric appeals with unique visuals aligned with Columbus Humane’s brand identity and eye-catching envelopes to increase open rates. Individualized messages were crafted to each of the donor segments with emotionally-engaging stories of real animals rescued and cared for in the community, custom ask ladders that encouraged donors to increase their giving and an emphasis to give through sustained monthly giving.

We increased coordinated email appeals to reinforce the direct mail, reach donors through preferred channels and provide quick and easy ways to give. 


After only 12 months, the results of our efforts are already significant:

  • Increase new donor retention to 30.3% (20.2% is the national average)
  • Increased average gift 29%
  • Increased Major donor average gift by 20%
  • Increased the number of sustaining donors 66%
  • Drove giving online from email and direct mail efforts for 35% of the donations
Fundraising appeal letters for the Columbus Humane nonprofit organization

"One of the things that I value most about our partnership with Phoenix Innovate is their entirely custom approach. We’ve worked with a number of direct mail and digital firms in our fundraising over the years and Phoenix Innovate was the first to offer highly custom products in an affordable way. Now all of our messages showcase our unique brand fully and we’re seeing improved results."

-Rachel D.K. Finney, CAWA; CEO of Columbus Humane