Founded in 1996, Assistance Dogs Australia is a national charity which trains Labradors and Golden Retrievers to help people with disabilities, providing them with greater freedom and independence. Recipients include those born with developmental disabilities like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, those who acquire debilitating illnesses like multiple sclerosis and those who have been in accidents and will never walk again.
Each Assistance Dog takes two years to train and requires an investment of over $27,000 – this covers all training, food, veterinary treatment, kennelling costs, placement and follow up care. However, Assistance Dogs Australia receives no government funding and relies solely on the generosity and philanthropy of individuals and organisations. In 2011, Assistance Dogs Australia made a commitment to a new fundraising programme with the hiring of its first dedicated fundraiser. The aim of the programme was to increase both fundraising income and the number of people and/or organisations who supported Assistance Dogs financially.
The first action of the fundraiser was to perform a review of existing fundraising to look at what was in place already and what worked and what didn’t. This review formed the basis of a five-year fundraising plan, which outlined a plan for the fundraising programme and the steps that would be taken implement and extending the programme.
The donation programme took a two pronged approach working with both direct mail and telemarketing, which was used in conjunction with initiatives such as grants programmes and a corporate relationships program. This process included regular performance reviews to track progress and identify points for improvement.
The programme has seen a 10-fold increase in supporters within databases, from 6,000 to 60,000 and an increase in income from $1.5 million in 2010 to $5.4 million in 2015. The result has been a significant increase in those provided with service dogs and an expansion of services to those with Autism, Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) and Dementia.