Blind Low Vision NZ: Paws for Pur­pose col­lec­tion box auction

Exhibited by
Gwen Green
May 17, 2023
Medium of Communication
Digital – email, social media, press releases, online auctions, QR codes.
Target Audience
General Public
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
New Zealand
Date of first appearance
3 March 2023

SOFII’s view

Auctions have long been a popular choice for fundraisers around the world. But without the right preparation, these events aren’t always the money spinners you might hope for. However during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, social giving has increased and virtual auctions have become a tempting way to raise funds for your charity. 

This campaign is an example of a virtual auction done well. It has the recipe for success – good planning, sustainability, celebrity, partnerships, a strong ask and the pull of beautiful items that truly connected the donor to the cause. For all these reasons, Blind Low Vision NZ ensured their auction raised plenty of vital funds for their guide dog programme.

Creator / originator

Blind Low Vision NZ and 40 fabulous artists from across New Zealand.


Blind Low Vision NZ is the only organisation that trains and breeds guide dogs for New Zealanders with vision loss. We do not receive any government funding for our guide dog programme.

100 per cent of funding for this programme is raised through the generosity of the New Zealand public. This Paws for Purpose campaign aimed to raise money that could go towards funding the build of our new guide dog kennels.

Summary / objectives

Most Kiwis are familiar with the life-size dog coin collection boxes (affectionately called Trudy). With our near cashless society and with many venues preferring countertop boxes with quick response (QR) codes – sadly our charity’s Trudy Dogs had become obsolete. 

Rather than dispose of these treasures we decided, with the support of artists from across New Zealand, to upcycle and auction them off as unique pieces of Kiwiana artwork. It was our hope to raise us much as possible for our charity and guide dog programmes.

Special characteristics

When recently moving our office buildings, Blind Low Vision NZ had to make a decision on what to do with around 40 Trudy Dogs in storage. Unsurprisingly, we were incredibly reluctant to simply throw them away. Our team knew there had to be value in the history of the dogs and we were certain the New Zealand public had a lot of love for our Trudy Dogs.  

Blind Low Vision NZ firmly believed each dog could become a genuine piece of ‘Kiwiana’ (a collector’s item to be upcycled and turned into one off, unique pieces of art) – provided we could secure the support of artists from across New Zealand.

In November 2022, we put out a ‘shout out’ through our networks, asking for artists to paint the dogs. We were inundated with excited artists wanting to be part of this project! The charity had expected to be able to paint around 15 – 20 dogs, but we ended up with 40 being transformed into works of art.

Images of all the dogs were put onto a New Zealand based auction site, Chooza, that specialises in auctions to raise funds for charities. Through this site, 33 dogs were auctioned off, with a further seven ‘Pedigree Pups’ (from renowned New Zealand artists) to be auctioned at a later live event.

During the month of March, whilst the auction was live, the dogs were on display in venues around Auckland Central Business District (CBD). Each had their own QR code leading prospective donors to the auction website. In addition to bidding on the auction, the public were encouraged to follow the ‘Puppy Dog Trail’, which took them past 40 of the dogs, and share their photos on social media.


Through a combination of the online auction, sponsorship, and donations the total raised from this initiative was NZ$70,000! This was a fantastic result both for our organisation and for recycling/sustainability!

Financially the project was supported by both corporate partners and suppliers. They gave their support in cash donations, sponsorship of dogs, and gifts in kind. We would like to offer big thanks to: Resene, Hyundai, Donor Republic, 2 Degrees, The Parnell Hotel, Chooza, and Webbs.

Their support kept our costs to a minimum and helped us achieve a return on investment (ROI) of around 40:1.


This fundraiser enabled Blind Low Vision NZ to engage with artists from all walks of New Zealand life. We worked with both up and coming and well-established artists, including some renowned creatives, like Dick Frizzell and Tim Christie.

The campaign really captured the imagination of not only the New Zealand public, but a global audience. Thanks to images of the beautifully unique dogs, our social media came alive with people sharing and commenting on which dog they loved the most. For many people, it was hard to choose a favourite! This helped us create the highest social media activation Blind Low Vision NZ have ever seen across a digital campaign.

Paws for Purpose has not only raised funds. It has always raised awareness of our work and given our fundraising team the opportunity to do something unique, in terms of sustainability. Rather than our Trudy Dogs ending up in landfill, we have created something collectible and raised money for our charity too.

Other relevant information

As mentioned above, Resene kindly sponsored the paint, giving all artists a letter of support to take to their local store so they could secure the paint they needed to create their bespoke piece, for free.  

We had planned to hold an in-person live auction event of the Pedigree Pups for VIP guests, courtesy of our relationship with the Park Hyatt Auckland (they have unsuccessful Guide Dog trainee Beau as an ambassador dog, he has an amazing life living at the hotel, greeting guests and raising the profile of Blind Low Vision NZ). 

However due to the timing of Easter and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) breaks, as well as the fact that winter flu season has started abruptly and early, we didn’t feel we could get enough of the right calibre of bidders in the room. Fortunately, Webb’s Auction House stepped in and agreed to auction the Pedigree Pups as part of their May art catalogue, which gave us significantly greater reach and exposure to New Zealand art enthusiasts.

Influence / impact

Aside from the income raised, and the dogs being successfully upcycled rather than disposed of, this campaign sparked global interest and resulted in Blind Low Vision NZ’s most successful social media campaign to date, with most of the activity being organic.

Directly related to this campaign we saw a 210 per cent increase in the number of messages received compared to the previous month. Most significantly for Blind Low Vision NZ was that around 50 per cent of these messages came from Instagram, a platform we are looking to grow our presence on.

Most artists and venues hosting Trudy Dogs mentioned us in their posts/stories, as did many of our corporate supporters and members of the public. Not only has this been a successful fundraising campaign, but it has also significantly grown our awareness and brand recognition. 

We had a 159 per cent increase in our overall impressions, which measures the amount of people our content is exposed to. Notably, our content was exposed to over one million people on Facebook. This is huge for a New Zealand based organisation where the whole population of our country is just five million people!

Despite the majority of dogs having now been sold, the campaign is still generating organic reach, through those who successfully won dogs in the auction sharing their own photos with their prized pup.

We have at least a further 30 Trudy dogs in our Christchurch office, so we are going to take the learnings from this event and run a ‘South Island’ event next year. Please follow us on our social media accounts if you’d like to secure your own piece of Kiwiana and raise vital funds for guide dogs in New Zealand. 

You can find out more about Blind Low Vision NZ on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

IMAGES: All images courtesy of Blind Low Vision NZ

The campaign was a virtual auction to raise money for Blind Low Vision NZ’s guide dog programme.
View original image
Artists from around New Zealand took the old ‘Trudy Dog’ collection boxes and transformed them into collectible pieces of art.
Each dog was unique, painted in paint supplied free to each artist by sponsor Resene. This dog was named ‘Bloom’, and was won by Gwen Green.
To test the concept, the dogs pictured above were painted as a team building event for Blind Low Vision NZ staff. These dogs were not included in the auction!
Auction winners/donors proudly posed with their new dogs when they came to collect them.
Blind Low Vision also boosted their virtual auction by securing corporate partners like Hyundai.