In the past year, the Scottish SPCA has seen security costs leap by £30,000 because of new health and safety legislation and has faced a £2 million shortfall in its pension fund. It has also struggled to cope with an 80 per cent hike in insurance costs since 2001.
The charity was then badly hit by a 36 per cent increase in water rates because of the volumes used hosing out kennels at the charity's animal rescue centres.
These spiralling costs resulted in a deficit of £3.2 million against an annual running cost of £8.9 million for 2002.
"It has got to the stage where we can not survive another deficit," said spokeswoman Mairi Ball. "It is a very serious situation."
Some cost-cutting measures, including suspension of the charity's neutering and spaying voucher scheme, have already been implemented, and the charity may yet be forced to close seven of its 13 animal welfare centres.
The charity, which helped 12,000 animals last year, hopes to offset some of the deficit by raising £1 million through the new campaign, which includes inserts, radio adverts and mailings to 30,000 existing active supporters.
The campaign, created by WWAV Rapp Collins Scotland, aims to recruit regular givers and upgrade annual and one-off donors to a direct debit scheme. It is being fronted by a Dalmatian called Puzzle.
The direct mail packs, which include a black and white spotted ribbon so that donors can show their support, are expected to raise £65,000.