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Article posted on April 19, 2018

Fundraising tips from a Birdies for Kids charity

In 2017, Dogs with Wings, which serves Albertans living with disabilities, raised $120,000 thanks to Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink.
In 2017, Dogs with Wings, which serves Albertans living with disabilities, raised $120,000 thanks to Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink.
Dogs with Wings volunteers and puppies-in-training made a special appearance at last year's Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary.
Dogs with Wings volunteers and puppies-in-training made a special appearance at last year's Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary.

Talk to any Calgarian and they’ll agree that this winter and spring have been some of the worst in recent memory. With piles of snow still peppering the city, summer feels completely out of reach. But in just a few short months, sports fans will migrate to Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club to watch 78 professional golfers compete for a prize at the Shaw Charity Classic.

Golf aficionados aren’t the only ones counting down to the festivities, which take place September long weekend; the clock is ticking for 180 children and youth-serving charities raising funds through Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink. Now in its fourth year with the Shaw Charity Classic, Birdies for Kids is a unique fundraising program that gives youth-serving charities in Alberta the opportunity to solicit donations and have funds matched up to 50%. The tiered matching structure is a fundraiser’s dream, and a great incentive for donors. Last year $6.9 million was raised for 159 participating charities through Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink.

While the perks of the program are undeniable, it can be difficult for newcomers to the program to grasp how to make the most of the opportunity.

Enter Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society, an Alberta’s Promise partner and second-time Birdies for Kids participant. Dogs with Wings promotes independence, safety, and integration for Albertans living with disabilities by providing them highly skilled assistance dogs and ongoing support. Last year, Dogs with Wings raised $120,000 thanks to Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink, and they are dreaming even bigger this year. We spoke with Kim Zahara, Fund Development Coordinator with Dogs with Wings, to hear how the organization navigated their first year with Birdies for Kids, and what advice they would give to first-timers. Here are her tips for a successful Birdies for Kids experience:

TIP #1: Start early.

When it comes to a one-of-a-kind fundraising opportunity like Birdies for Kids, time is precious. Agencies accepted into the Birdies for Kids program are notified very early in the year, giving them ample time to take advantage of the fundraising matching component. This year, the donation period runs February 1 to September 2. Kim’s first tip: don’t wait on getting the word out about your charity’s involvement with the program. The sooner you tell supporters, the sooner they’ll be able to help.

TIP #2: Kick off your campaign with a bang.

In 2017, Dogs with Wings started promoting their involvement with Birdies for Kids later than they would have liked – hence tip #1. But the way in which they introduced the campaign was a raving success. The organization decided to announce their involvement at their annual graduation ceremony for their service dogs – an event that is typically highly anticipated and well-attended. The event attracted their core community of supporters and donors, an audience that would be receptive and excited about Dogs with Wings’ participation in the program. The result: an enthusiastic donor contributed a whopping $100,000 donation, which – along with other donations – was stretched further thanks to the matching program. Kim’s second tip is to go big with your Birdies for Kids campaign launch. Host an in-person event with your organization’s biggest champions, and show them how their dollars can go even further thanks to the program.

TIP #3: Be clear with donors.

Kim’s third tip is all about building and maintaining trust among your community of supporters. The Birdies for Kids matching component follows a tiered structure. Make sure you and your team members fully grasp the matching percentage tiers, and communicate this as clearly as possible to potential donors. It’s important that they truly understand what happens to their donation.

TIP #4: Take advantage of the perks!

The Shaw Charity Classic offers each Birdies for Kids charity four general admission tickets that can be used in draws or giveaways as an incentive for donations. Last year, Dogs with Wings used their tickets to recognize four supporters, a gesture that helped strengthen those relationships. Participating charities also have full access to the Birdies for Kids logo, and can get special discounted tickets using the promo code BIRDIES. The bottom line (and Kim’s fourth tip): take advantage of the perks! Use complimentary tickets to enhance your fundraising strategy or thank supporters, include the Birdies for Kids logo in all of your marketing materials to raise awareness, and leverage special pricing to access even more Shaw Charity Classic tickets.

TIP #5: Make it easy for donors.

When it comes to giving, easier is better. Save supporters the step of figuring out how to give through Birdies for Kids with Kim’s fifth tip: add “Donate Now” buttons throughout your website linking directly to your charity’s Birdies for Kids online donation portal. Remember: online funds are only matched if submitted through the donation portal.

TIP #6: Keep that momentum going.

After igniting the spark with your Birdies for Kids campaign kickoff, you mustn’t forget to fan the flames. Kim’s sixth tip: ensure Birdies for Kids – and specifically the matching advantage – remains top of mind for your supporters. Promote your involvement through social media, printed materials, and e-newsletters. Include the logo and phrasing like “donations matched up to 50%” in your email signature. Continue educating the public at networking and fundraising events. These tactics will help build out a robust fundraising campaign.

TIP #7: If you can, participate in the Shaw Charity Classic!

In 2017, Dogs with Wings was thrilled to have a presence at the Shaw Charity Classic. Sharing booth space with a fellow Birdies for Kids charity and splitting the cost accordingly, the event was the perfect opportunity to showcase the organization. With the help of volunteers, Dogs with Wings brought in puppies-in-training to surprise and delight passersby. While booth space is limited and costs may vary, Kim’s seventh tip is to consider participating in the tournament itself. It’s fun for volunteers, and a great way to educate the public on what you do and why it matters.

TIP #8: Do your homework.

All Birdies for Kids charities are required to fill out a final report following the year’s campaign. Kim’s eighth and final tip is simple: be familiar with what is required for your final report. Knowing what is expected will make it easier to collect information as you go, saving you time in the end.

Want more great tips? Check out last year’s Birdies for Kids article.

Questions about Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink? Contact Lauren Calvert at

Last Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018

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