Officials at Milan's Duomo have devised an unusual campaign to raise funds for the cathedral's preservation: they're asking patrons to adopt the building's gargoyles.

The Gothic, pink marble-clad cathedral is one of the largest in the world and a beloved monument in the Italian city.

Due to pollution, the 14th-century building requires regular maintenance. However, recent austerity cuts to Italy's culture budget has less money for upkeep of cultural institutions, including the cathedral.

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The Duomo is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images )

To help make up funds, Duomo management launched a campaign offering its 135 gargoyles up for "adoption."

Donors who contribute €100,000 (about $128,000 Cdn) or more will have their name engraved under one of the grotesque figures perched on the cathedral's rooftop. The figures  serve as drainage pipes.

So far, eight €100,000-donations have been made since the campaign launch, along with donations of lesser amounts.

Officials are collecting donations through their campaign website. They hope to raise about €25 million (about $32 million Cdn) overall for restoration and renovation work.

The goal is "to encourage the Milanese and citizens of the world as a whole to be protagonists in the history of the cathedral... a priceless treasure that belongs to all of humanity," organizers said.

Gargoyles, stone carvings of grotesque figures projecting from a building's walls, are often employed to drain rainwater away from the building.