Animals Australia Gift Certificates

How a small change to a donation form has created a seasonal fundraising boon.

A project that has helped Animals Australia supporters to share their kindness and spread the cause further.

Animals Australia’s mission is to create a kinder world for all living beings. Those who donate are not just animal lovers; they’re altruists. They give in the spirit of compassion and with the intention of making the world a better place. But, like supporters of any cause, they’re not immune to donor fatigue.

That phenomenon can be brought about by different factors, and one of the main ones is a sense of bombardment. It's the feeling of being asked to give so often, or in so many different ways, that it becomes off-putting.

As Animals Australia considered ways of increasing their donation revenue, they remained keenly aware of the donor fatigue effect. Their solution: a change that would offer a different way to donate—a fresh option, not a new request.

Here's the story of how one small change to a digital donation form made a major difference to when and how supporters fund this world-changing cause.


  • Australia-wide

The problem

The Animals Australia fundraising team is always looking for new ways to facilitate and encourage giving. But change isn’t simple. If it’s made without care and consideration, donations can begin to seem like cold commercial transactions. Or worse, tiresome obligations.

The approach

How could Animals Australia increase their donation revenue and spread the call for kindness further—all without putting an extra burden on their generous donors? They opted for simplicity and convenience: an understated change to their existing digital donation form, offering the opportunity to turn a donation into a customisable gift certificate.

The end-game

The gift certificate concept has led to a desirable chain reaction. Through gifted donations, the Animals Australia message resonates through a donor’s network of friends and family, many of whom find out about the organisation and its work for the first time.

Creating a kindness chain reaction

Animals Australia asks people to choose kindness. And generous supporters do that every day, donating via the organisation’s online donation form.

By introducing the option of turning a donation into a gift certificate, the organisation’s fundraising team not only avoid perceived new ‘obligations’ on donors, but they also create the conditions for a happy chain reaction. Studies suggest that altruism spreads with surprising ease. The research proposes  ‘each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom [they do] not know and [have] not met.’

That spread is all the more advantageous when you consider that many donors buy gift certificates as a present for loved ones who discover Animals Australia’s crucial mission for the very first time.

Why is simplicity important?

Embedding gifting within the form without radically changing the donation experience.

The Animals Australia fundraising team understood from the start that this project was about making their donors’ altruistic impulse as easy to exercise as it had ever been. But they knew that the project would only succeed if, instead of being ‘just another’ request for money, it introduced a new way to spread kindness—expanding the scope of the donation process, while retaining its ease. What could be simpler than a single checkbox within a form many donors are already familiar with?

And while convenience and straightforwardness were the bedrock of the project, the fundraising team knew they had to strike a careful balance. There’s a fine line between uncomplicated and uninteresting.

With that in mind, they determined that the donation form change should be minimalist, but the opportunity it created should be delightful—both for donors and eventual recipients. They paid careful attention to the option to turn a donation into a gift, but also to the gift certificates themselves.

The donation form changed, but Animals Australia’s respect for and gratitude to its supporters remains as high as it has ever been.

The whole gifting process puts power in the hands of the donors, letting them style and present the certificates in just the way that feels right for their friend or relative. More than that, it underscores the trustworthiness of the Animals Australia brand; this is an organisation that shows you exactly what you’re sending before you hit the confirmation button. Nothing is hidden or assumed.

A donation gift for every occasion

Creating beautiful, flexible certificate themes to support future campaigns.

Animals Australia’s fundraising leaders know that most donors are more likely to tick the gift certificate box if their donation coincides with an occasion that has special meaning to a loved one. Because of this, they put time and effort into creating multiple design and style options suited to birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and more.

And they encourage donors to choose the occasion (or the more general ‘with thanks’ option) directly from the donation form. Every certificate is visually styled to reflect the occasion the donor chooses, and, of course, they all celebrate animals in different ways.

While a donation might be prompted by a news item, a campaign, or even made on a whim, a gift can be prompted by any number of events, milestones, or reasons to celebrate—most of them annual. By linking the certificates with occasions, Animals Australia creates a powerful fundraising tool that’s compelling all year round. And that will remain so into the future.

The impact

An immediate boost in donation revenue.

By building a fast, simple and flexible donation-gifting process, Animals Australia’s fundraising team boosted revenue straight away. In fact, the number of donations in the two months after the launch of the project jumped dramatically, when compared year-on-year. The total donation amount also increased significantly.

As the results made clear, many donors were using the gift certificate function in addition to—not instead of—a traditional donation.

“This donation type gives on a multitude of levels.

It enables the giver to support their favourite charity, show their loved one they are thinking of them, and also serve an advocacy purpose by igniting an altruistic spark within recipients who may not be familiar with our organisation’s work.

August approached the project brief enthusiastically and openly and delivered what we set out to achieve. The results are exceeding expectations and assisting us in carrying out our vision to protect animals and create a kinder world for every living being.”

— Megan Corlass, Donor Development Manager, Animals Australia

Generosity encourages generosity

Small donations spread far and wide through community networks.

The gift certificates have made a big difference, but not necessarily by encouraging donors to increase the size of individual donations—in the month after launch the average amount per gifted donation was about $60.

What has changed is that donors are using the gifting option to make multiple relatively small contributions. As they do, they bring the Animals Australia cause to those in their family and social networks, a proportion of which had never been exposed to it before. And some of those people go on to donate themselves, ensuring that the chain reaction continues to stretch out through communities.