Columbus Humane

26% Increase in Net Revenue

50% Increase in New Donor Retention

66% Increased in Sustaining 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 generate more revenue than the previous year and allow them to significantly reduce the budget spent on acquisition.


One of the methods we used to achieve this was to employ behavioral science to develop a program that influenced donors to give using the one of the six principles of persuasion in each appeal. 

Because we would be making repeated appeals to many of the same donors, every appeal needed to be different and fresh, with a new reason for the donor to engage. With this in mind, we implemented a different approach to each appeal:

  • A free gift in one appeal employed the “reciprocity” principle.
  • An urgent deadline to give utilizing the “scarcity” principle.
  • In the membership appeal, we employ the “consensus” and “consistency” principles to encourage donors to become members of Columbus Humane.

The combination of our individualized messaging for each audience segment, based on data insights, and this behavioral science tactic allowed us to speak personally to each donor with messaging designed to create a strong emotional connection.



As we come to the end of our first year of work with Columbus Humane, the results of our efforts have been significant:

  • Net Revenue increased 26% year-over-year with some campaigns generating increases as high as 35%.
  • Increased the number of sustaining donors 66%
  • Increased average gift 29%
  • Increased Major donor average gift by 20%
  • Increase new donor retention to 30.3% (20.2% is the national average)

"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