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Canine Companions' Record-Setting Online Campaign

Working with long-time corporate partner is a win-win


  • $134K

    Total revenue generated in just seven weeks

  • 26%

    First-time donors to Canine Companions

  • 37%

    Percentage of new email subscribers as part of voting campaign

  • 20%

    Growth in Facebook fans

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Nonprofits are always seeking new ways to diversify funding and reach new audiences. Cause marketing partnerships can help a cause stand out in a crowded marketplace, and more effectively and efficiently accomplish their missions.

We encourage our clients and their corporate partners to develop integrated cause related fundraising and marketing campaigns to raise awareness about the cause and the corporation – it’s a win-win relationship for both our clients and their partners.

Recently, Canine Companions for Independence sought Merkle’s help to develop a cause marketing campaign with their long-time corporate partner, a major dog food manufacturer. They wanted to reach new audiences and help build their donor contact list.


The campaign was centered around a tongue-in-cheek theme: An Initial Puppy Offering™ or IPO. Donors were given a chance to participate in the IPO (mirroring the Initial Public Offering process in the finance world) by buying “IPO shares” by making a donation.

The goal was to raise funds to support the development of highly-trained assistance dogs and ongoing follow up services to people with disabilities. It also aimed to build awareness for the dog food manufacturer’s brand among Canine Companions’ dog-loving audience, and reach new audiences to help Canine Companions build its email list.

Merkle developed and deployed two multi-channel campaigns incorporating Canine Companions’ and the corporate partner’s shared goals in raising healthy, active puppies to become life-changing assistance dogs.

An online vote invited supporters to name the first puppy born from the “E” litter named in recognition of the corporate partner’s long-time support. The two-week campaign was timed to coincide with the birth of the litter to drive urgency and response, and promoted by email appeals, website promotions and Facebook posts by Canine Companions and the corporate partner.

Voters were encouraged to spread the word through social media and ecards. The campaign concluded with the birth announcement and winning name of the first born pup.

The Initial Puppy Offering (IPO) fundraising campaign leveraged the corporate partner’s $100,000 annual gift to Canine Companions as an “IPO Angel Investor” and 2-for-1 match for each donated “IPO share.” Donors received a personalized “stock certificate” as a gift with their donation. The campaign was launched following the birth of the “E” litter, and promoted online and via Facebook.

In addition, the corporate partner also hosted a live feed webcam of the litter from birth to 8 weeks on their Facebook page during the IPO campaign. This was a huge hit as supporters loved watching the pups and appreciated the daily insider view of puppy raising, generating goodwill and increasing awareness about the partnership.

Discover how we did it. Contact us today.