This three adjective approach -- or three phrases, in some cases -- is one of my favorite templates for fundraisers. I use it for tough luck cases, dogs hit by car, abandoned, in the shelter -- anything that makes for a sad story.
This sequence of words and phrases trigger very specific biochemical responses in prospective donors. Just as an overview -- without getting into all the details -- it’s designed to trigger cortisol, which makes readers feel like they need to do something about the situation. The cortisol is triggered by one of the specific “survival chemicals” -- seratonin, oxypitocin, and dopamine (SOD for short). Acting on one of those releases endorphins and relieves the cortisol compulsion to act. How this works is covered in our Complete Template Guide (available soon!), from which these examples are taken.
Start this by thinking of three adjectives that describe the pitiful situation. Follow that by a very specific description of the dog and mention the hopelessness of the situation. Do all that in one paragraph by using this template. There are a couple of versions of it here. Note that you do not lead with the name or description. You MUST get photos right on eye level with the dog. Also take photos of Xrays or other medical tests. Note: the S, O, and D in parantheses in the first example indicates which of the SOD chemicals the words are intended to evoke.
First Paragraphs Examples:
#1 Hungry(S), alone(O), and bleeding from his right paw (D) Jonah, a four-year-old brindle boy(O), had little hope of getting out alive (D). The two broken bones in his leg ground together, the pain excruciating. In a high kill shelter, he was first on the list to be killed.
#2 His leg shattered in a car accident, a gash on his right hip, and demodex mange around his eyes and ears, the senior Airedale lived in constant pain. Abandoned in the woods and picked up by Animal Control, he was dumped in a cold concrete run and left to a bleak future.
#3 Beaten, terrified, and pregnant, the young Walker Hound sought shelter under an old wooden porch, and waited to die.
#4 Cold, wet, and hungry, the tiny pup staggered down the road, oblivious to the heavy traffic just feet away from him. No one stopped to help. Far too young to be aware from his mother, the pup faced certain death from the traffic, starvation or coyotes. He would not last long alone.
Your next paragraph goes into the solution. Don’t risk losing your audience by going on a tangent.
Second Paragraph Examples:
#1 Fred’s Animal Rescue Team is pulling Jonah from the shelter tomorrow. This poor fellow will go immediately to the vet for xrays and the basic: an exam, shots, and a heartworm test. Just judging from how his belly looks, he’s probably loaded with worms as well, and will need a round of medication for that. Getting the basics done and a better look at that broken leg will cost right at $187. But to let him continue to suffer like this with conditions that are entirely treatable just isn’t something anyone wants to live with, not when it’s so easy to fix.
#2 Despite all her injuries, Annie is a sweet, gentle soul. She deserves a family of her own, someone to love her and make sure this never happens again. She’s currently staying with Emily, one of Fred’s Animal Rescue Team’s excellent fosters, learning that not all people are cruel and that a hand aren’t always going to hit. To take the next step on her journey to her forever home, Annie needs $220 to cover her basic vetting and spay.
After your second paragraph, finish with the following paragraphs. These will be the same for every fundraiser you write.
Last paragraph example:
Can you help? Donations, even small ones, add up so quickly!
Fred’s Animal Rescue Team is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity and your donation is deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Donate using the link above or PayPal directly to the rescue at
Thank you and PLEASE SHARE this fundraiser! <the dog> is counting on YOU!