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How Motley Zoo Has Cultivated Donor Loyalty in all the “Wrong” Ways

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

We at Motley Zoo believe that animals are worth more than the value at the bottom of a vet bill- and that it is our role to do everything we can to ensure that those animals have a second chance at life, regardless of the price tag. We believe animals make our live richer, despite the costs- and that we’re not just finding homes for animals, we’re creating life-long matches with family.

Because of this belief- and our willingness to share the transparent truth- we have cultivated a very strong and loyal following since our founding in 2009. A “crew” comprised of hundreds of direct volunteers and fosters; thousands in terms of adopters- and multiple thousands in terms of donors.

Donors who many times, have never met us or our animals- but who receive and believe in, our message and mission as wholeheartedly as we do.

We have been able to build this crew this because we are straight with our constituents. We share the trials and tribulations  we face, as well as the successes. We ask for what we need to do our job saving lives- which includes reminding (or rather trying to inspire) our crew to remember that without people to do the job, all the money in the world is ineffective. We need people to join us in any way they can- and not to underestimate the value of volunteer time.

From the beginning we did things in the way we believed we should do them- however discovered that this was also considered somewhat unconventional. In the end, what was initially gauged as quirkiness turned out to fall in line with many “best practices” and new innovations in nonprofit management- especially in regard to donor loyalty.

We found that our greatest successes were because we were often “unprofessional” in the traditional sense…and thankfully, we didn’t worry about tradition.

We found that the people who support us, wanted something new, fresh and unusual. It’s not just our rock and roll theme or the fun we have with it- it’s the way we talk to the people that support us; the culture we’ve helped create. It’s what we tolerate- and what we don’t- and how we make no apologies when it comes to either…because no matter what people may think or say from time to time, we never forget the animals need us to remain steadfast and determined…and that nothing- not even our donors potential judgments- are more important than that. We’re not afraid to do what we believe is right- even at risk of criticism…though we find we’re rarely criticized for this as a result; rather, people trust us more.

We are so grateful that we can just be ourselves, as brutally honest as we feel we should be- both as individuals and as an organization- and this is why we have been successful, not controversial. We don’t preach or sell what we do- yet our crew believes in us near implicitly, because we share that unabashedly with them. Our supporters are not just people who provide us funds, they are people who feel us- and as a result, give willingly and often.

We have created donor loyalty by doing everything backwards and without any evidence at the time that this was right- we just did what our hearts believed…and we’re glad we did.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of Motley Zoo and our amazing success as an organization- but more so for each and every precious soul we believed was valuable and worth saving. You believed it too- and that is what has made Motley Zoo successful at rockin’ rescue…and for that, we salute you!

Related posts: What Donors Want From Nonprofits Before They Write Their Checks, as featured on


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