Howard elaborates that Grizzard encourages its clients to advertise some of their special events, such as telethons or walks, with the dog and cat. “We try to spice them up because return envelopes are usually just a thank-you and a return address,” she adds.
The BRE isn’t the only area where The Humane Society of Fairfax County uses appealing imagery. In fact, the entire package contains vivid photos, from the outer envelope to the letter to the BRE. Mailed in an 8? x 4? white envelope, the outer jumps out at donors with a photograph of Hunter, a dog, with the phrase “Take me home” under the shot to tug at donors’ heartstrings (Archive code #610-716801-0809).
“Most people who are donating on a consistent basis to any Humane Society … we know that about 70 percent of households have animals currently, but probably at one point everyone has had an animal in their home, and they can just see and feel based on the emotion of ‘pick me,’ ‘take me home,’ and how hard it is walking through a shelter knowing that [the animals] are going to either be there a week or a month,” describes Howard.
And that helps get donors inside. Once they’re there, they find a two-page letter that again has the photo from the OE along with another Polaroid of a cat with the caption “Pick me!” underneath and yet another cat photograph on the second page of the letter. The Humane Society doesn’t just use any old photos here either. Howard says Grizzard is very selective with the photos, making sure the animals are looking at the donors to make more of a connection. After all, who can resist puppy dog eyes?
The letter starts by stating, “There’s nothing more heartbreaking than visiting an animal shelter.” And it emphasizes that the Humane Society needs “your support more than ever.” It then goes on to describe the story of Hunter—or Biscuit or Rover, depending on the Humane Society—and then goes on to detail Angel, the cat, on the reverse. These stories hit the animal lovers hard, but Howard says the organization makes it a point to tell donors exactly how their contributions will help. “We know in animal welfare we can get away with the emotions more, but we always do try to have as much information in the packages as possible like ‘your gift will help shelter, foster, spay and neuter,’” she highlights.