How PetRescue can solve all of its rescue and fundraising issues overnight, with one small coding change.

June 29, 2017

A PetRescue supporter who seems confused as to their role in rescuing pets

PetRescue has a strong message for anyone who asserts that rescue's donations are ending up in their bank account. Simply, that it doesn’t happen.

"We do not believe that people who have actually donated to PetRescue aren't confused about where the donation goes or what it is used for.

... Yes over the years I have seen these rescue groups claim (this), and I have asked each group to let me know who these donors are or ask the donor to get in contact directly with us so we can refund their money, but no one has.

I’d like to strongly reiterate the same message to you and your group. If you know of any XX Rescue supporters who have made a donation to PetRescue believing they were actually making a donation to you, please ask them to contact us and I will happily and immediately refund their donation."
PetRescue Facebook

But of course, this is a very oversimplified response to a genuine problem. 

Simply saying - no one has come forward to rectify a donation - does not mean people aren’t giving in error. Either deliberately in error - as in they think their donation is going to the rescue that they donated from, OR, a more general error that they think donations end up helping pets in rescue directly.

Most lost donations are never going to show up in a way that registers with a rescue group. How could they? Unless the donor for some reason goes back to the group to clarify some detail, or asks for acknowledgment. In fact, you could easily donate to PetRescue, thinking you were donating to a rescue group for YEARS without it ever coming up.

And to expect the solution to be - rescue groups chase down people and ask if they’ve donated to PetRescue - seems deliberately obstructive and totally impractical.

Also, even if people do find out they’d donated to the wrong place - people who are kind enough to give to rescue, probably aren’t going to start chasing an animal charity for a refund. What kind of jerk do we think these people are?

But there IS a solution

The new Matchmakers Program is designed to improve the flow of information between PetRescue and its end users (adopters). It is sold as a way to improve the response rate to applicants by rescue groups, and will require that all communications with adopters are done via the website. But largely this is a way for PetRescue to capture the details of people who don’t just apply, but go on to ADOPT pets.

The flow will become something resembling this;

Person applies for a pet <PetRescue captures contact information>
Person is approved for a pet <PetRescue captures this action>
<PetRescue asks person if they’re happy>
(If no) refer person back to rescue group
(If yes) <PetRescue solicits for a donation>

PetRescue fundraising communications will be automated, brand-building, and created by a paid team using a sophisticated fundraising strategy. No community foster care or rescue’s own fundraising effort could be expected to compete.

So here is where PetRescue could show some goodwill to the rescue groups who support them.

Currently, there is no way on PetRescue’s system for them to track whether a donation is coming from someone who already has a relationship with a rescue group. However when the new Matchmakers system is implemented, this information is being deliberately harvested.

The solution is obvious. If a person who is already an adopter signs in to make a donation, then that rescue group is alerted.

Surely the contact details of an adopter-donor belong more to rescue groups than to PetRescue - and PetRescue should not want to keep a donation intended for rescue - so there should be no issue with PetRescue handing this information over.

From there, groups can contact the person to see if they meant to donate to PetRescue, or in fact, the rescue group who saved, transported, treated, cared for, fed, vet worked, vaccinated, microchipped, trained, and eventually adopted that pet.

To withhold this information once PetRescue is collecting it, really does seem like deliberately stealing adopter donations from rescue groups and misleading the public as to where their donation is going.

An even more proactive solution?

... and the one which would really show just how much PetRescue values the groups it claims to support - would be for someone known to the system as having an existing relationship with a rescue, to be OFFERED for their donation to go to the group either entirely, or with a percentage still going to PetRescue.

It really is a win-win situation for PetRescue. They can fundraise to their heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that doing so isn’t damaging the fundraising base of rescue groups.

While rescue groups get someone with the knowledge and employee and marketing resources of PetRescue, fundraising on their behalf, making the relationship much healthier and less parasitic.

NOW is the time for rescue groups to lobby for these changes. If you're a group who feels like they're losing donors to PetRescue, now is the time to act.

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