Animal shelters are very important because they care for abandoned or neglected animals. They also provide temporary homes for animals on the street. Animal shelters are invaluable to communities around the world. They work for a noble cause, helping those who have no voice.
Sadly, nowadays doing good doesn’t guarantee funding. Having good intentions and working hard doesn’t necessarily mean that your animal shelter will meet its fundraising goals.
Another thing to remember is that fundraising is not an outcome, it’s a process. There’s no one-shot solution! What’s needed is a combination of a sound fundraising strategy, creative fundraising ideas, and passionate staff.
This article covers 18 effective animal shelter fundraising ideas that can help propel your shelter’s fundraising to new heights.
Dog walks or runs are the simplest animal shelter fundraising idea to start with. There are several ways to go about organizing a dog walk or a dog run.
You can mobilize your own staff or volunteers from your local community and have them walk the local dogs in exchange for donations.
You can also organize a morning run with the dogs. Design a running route that makes sense in your local community, and then have participants pay to enter the run. Pooches come along, of course!
Finally, you can opt for an ever so popular walk-a-thon. Walk-a-thon would take a bit more time and preparation than a morning run.
Example: Dogs Run Certified, an initiative dedicated to dog seatbelt safety, has set up a walk-a-thon to raise funds for their education programs. This campaign includes the story behind their cause, a simple yet suggestive donation form, and a goal meter to create urgency. They have concisely informed their donors why they need funds and how they’d be spending them. The donor wall on this page is what we call the cherry on the cake!
Fundraising by using crowdfunding is a great way for organizations to grow their online audience and address their fundraising needs, and this is especially true for smaller organizations.
Crowdfunding refers to the collection of many small donations by a large number of people. In return, donors may receive token rewards or acknowledgments for their donations.
The process is fast and simple, and it works well for animal shelters and animal rescue organizations since crowdfunding pages include photographs and videos of animals in need, and these create an emotional connection.
To collect one-time and recurring donations on your website, use a Crowdfunding platform like Donorbox.
Example: Tequila Blues Rock organized a music award and performance show to support abandoned and homeless street animals. To raise some extra funds apart from the event profits, they set up a crowdfunding page with Donorbox. Their timely updates and donor appreciation wall make the donation process trustworthy for potential donors and fans.
A dog washing event is a fun and engaging animal shelter fundraising idea. Best organized in summer, it’s a great activity for the entire family.
To organize dog washing, source a suitable location, and get your local pet stores to donate dog-washing supplies (e.g. pet shampoo or brushes).
Similarly to a car washing fundraising event, owners can bring their pets over for a quick cleaning in exchange for a small donation.
Set up a station with drinks, tables, and chairs, so families and friends can relax and spend time together while their pups are getting washed.
This is a cheap, quick, and convenient option for washing pets – which is always desirable for pet owners. In addition to that, they get to spend time outside and support a great cause!
For a twist on this idea, offer a full pet salon experience (not just a wash). Offer grooming, paw massage, cutting nails. Naturally, for a full-on pet grooming process, you’ll need a professional’s help.
People love their pets. And everyone thinks their pet is the cutest.
To organize this “aww-filled” event, recruit one (or a couple of) professional photographers – depending on the scale of your event. Alternatively, recruit an amateur photographer. Perhaps a staff member or a volunteer has a secret photography hobby!
Source a location and start promoting the event. Post the event on Facebook, outlining all the details, and include a registration link. Owners pay upon booking.
You can charge the owner as high as $100 for 5 unique digital photographs of their pet.
Identify pet stores and vet clinics in your area and ask them to set up a donation station in their space for your animal shelter.
The donation stations can range from simply setting up the basket(s) at every location, in which visitors and shoppers can donate in-kind supplies.
Donation stations can be set up in other places too – a small office, local school, or church.
To raise money, work with the above-mentioned partners, especially pet shops, for shoppers to donate a small amount at their check out.
Finally, you could ask your partners (vet clinics, pet shops, businesses) to highlight your animal shelter as “the cause they support” and have the “donate” buttons on their websites.
If there aren’t that many parks in your area if it’s rainy and cold, or you just want to switch it up a bit, get in touch with a local coffee shop. When selecting the coffee shop in which you’ll organize the event, make sure it’s spacious enough for pets and humans (ideally with an outside space).
Ask them if they would be open to hosting an animal shelter fundraising event. Make the event relaxed and casual, perhaps by having a board game competition or a trivia quiz.
Offer some snacks and drinks included in the price of the ticket.
Dog fashion shows make for a great fundraising idea. Owners would love the idea of walking their furry babies down the ramp in cute, fancy clothing. It can be a fun and enthusiastic program for pets, too.
There are a few things to consider to turn a dog fashion show into a great fundraiser.
As mentioned in Idea 2 (Crowdfunding), people respond better to appeals targeting one animal than more.
To capitalize on this, start a “Sponsor a Pet” program. The “Sponsor A Pet” program is a way for people to help pets in need even if they can’t adopt them.
By giving a recurring monetary donation, pet sponsors will be working with your shelter to provide the best care to the pets while they’re waiting for their forever home. A recurring donation means the pet is safe and taken care of (usually for a full year unless the donor decides to renew).
Make sure the payments are made on your website in a secure way. For example, Donorbox is a powerful donation software that attracts recurring donors and processes payments in a safe way.
Send your pet sponsors (at least) quarterly updates on how the pet is doing, what their personality is like, and offer a chance to visit.
You can also offer the opportunity for your pet sponsors to name the pet if they commit to a longer sponsorship.
Example: PittieLove Rescue has an online sponsorship campaign for the Pitbull-type dogs living in their shelter. The cost of each dog’s care (vaccination, neutering, food, medicine, treatment, etc.) needs constant assistance from donors or sponsors. Their simple donation form makes it very easy for people to choose the dog and make one-time/recurring donations. The donation FAQ on their page as well as the tax information add to the nonprofit’s transparency.
Organize a pet raffle either online or during an event. This can be your great add-on for holiday campaigns like thanksgiving, Christmas, and year-end campaigns as well.
Sell raffle tickets for $1-$5 (e.g. $1 buys you one ticket/entry, $5 buys you three tickets).
Prior to advertising the raffle, secure rewards. These can range from pet-specific gift baskets (e.g. a cat basket or a dog basket) to a cat tree or a dog bed, to a yearly supply of pet food at a specific pet store, to financial gifts and trips for the whole family.
Promote the raffle extensively and enjoy the donations pouring in!
Organize a festival in your community gathering pets, pet owners, and animal lovers.
Contact local art supplies shops and ask them to donate art supplies. If you can, have an artist come volunteer for the event and hold an art workshop for pet owners. Organize and promote the festival.
Have pets make art with their paws. Pets can “print” on paper, mugs, or another medium you can get a hold of. Pet owners can also write a little biography about their pets.
You can also have the pet owners submit these to an online gallery created specifically for this purpose. Use the gallery to show off, ask for donations, and increase the proceeds! You can also have pet owners pay to join the art workshop.
Given how much people love their pets, it should be no surprise how wildly popular pet calendars are. It should also be no surprise that calendar fundraising is an extremely popular and effective tool for animal welfare organizations.
Wall or desk calendars are easy to create and sell.
Start creating the calendar well in advance. You should start selling them in December already.
You can choose to either photograph animals in your shelter and add facts and quotes that help educate (and then sell them), or you can run a contest for pet owners to submit an entry in order for their pet to be featured (and charge for the submission).
Here are some general guidelines on how to create pet calendars:
This animal shelter fundraising idea requires more planning and investment in time from your animal shelter, but it might have some of the greatest return on the investment.
Partner with local elementary schools – having each classroom partnered with one pet at your shelter.
Kids can raise donations of pet supplies and spare change for “their” pet. This not only contributes to your fundraising goals, but it also makes a great case for PR and teaches students important lessons about animal care and responsibility.
Sure to attract a crowd, this animal shelter fundraising idea combines education with fundraising.
To execute it, have your staff or local vets offer community classes for pet owners or animal lovers on topics of interest. For example, “Basic Cat Care,” and “Pet First Aid and CPR.”
Keep the price quite accessible, around $10 for an hour or two. Make sure to promote the event on social media and drop off flyers to local pet stores, other shelters and sanctuaries, and vet clinics.
Everyone loves treats, and everyone loves bake sales and bake-offs! So why not combine them with adorable four-legged pets?
To host a “barkery”, find a pet-suitable cake recipe (a “pawcake”), and make big batches of it to sell it to pet owners.
You can make the treats specific to only one type of pet (e.g. dog) or you can make several different ones – one for every most common type of pet.
You can organize this in your local park or sell the treats online. If you have the capacity to take this idea to the next level, you can even accept custom orders for pet birthdays – and charge more for it!
It’s no coincidence that some of the most viewed content on YouTube is pet-related. YouTube is the ideal platform to create engaging content that will attract donations for animals at your shelter.
Creating a viral YouTube video is somewhat of an art, although a part of it is always up to luck. To increase your chances of creating a popular YouTube video, make it high quality, short, telling a story, and focusing on the emotional connection.
Once your video starts being viewed, use the revenue from ads as your donation money. (Make sure you are set up to collect ad revenue).
However, donating add revenue on its own is often not enough. One video with almost 500,000 views can earn you as little as $500. So, include a call to action in your video – leading viewers to a donation page where they can donate.
Giving time is oftentimes the single best way to go about fundraising. Having pets is expensive, with 86.4 million cats and 78.2 million dogs in homes around the U.S, according to the Humane Society of the United States, so any help with pet sitting or pet washing is appreciated by owners.
Recruit volunteers in your community to help with pet sitting, and charge the owners less than a professional pet sitter or a pet hotel would – with all the funds going directly to your shelter.
3 years ago, a YouTube channel called Soul Pancake posted a video called “Kitten Therapy” which got close to 10 million views. It featured a big glass box that invited people to come in, relax, and de-stress. Once the person would get inside and listen to a short message, they would then meet kittens which they then played with.
For your animal shelter, try organizing something similar – puppies or kittens de-stress morning or afternoon. Charge for “tickets”, making it very clear where the money is going to.
Of course, make sure vets give the green light, and that you don’t overwhelm the animals.
With a virtual event, you can reach a larger audience than with an in-person event. And you’ll be able to share the recording of the virtual event afterward to continue to drive donations.
Your live fundraising event should be 45 to 60 minutes long. Be sure to include time for the special appeal when you ask people to make their donations via your Donorbox campaign page and text to give. During the event, acknowledge your donors by name as they give and share your goal meter to create shared excitement with your audience as you get closer to reaching the goal.
Be sure to select an emcee who is great on camera and is passionate about your mission.
Example: The AV Department has helped produce many virtual fundraisers for pet rescue organizations across the U.S. You can watch some of these events, see what each group included, and get inspired to host your own virtual fundraising event.
This bonus resource will help you add more warmth and meaning to your animal shelter fundraising campaign.
Your animals need protection, good care, and treatment. But to be able to fund that, you need to touch the hearts of your potential donors.
A slogan is a catchy line that provokes thoughts and emotions in people. They’re used in advertising a product, service, and in your case, a cause. And sometimes that’s all you need to get kind people to give to your campaign.
Here are a few examples of animal shelter fundraising slogans to help you write yours.
Animals deserve love, not cruelty.
A simple message like this highlighted on your fundraising page and social media posts can elicit empathy from people. You may use it for your campaign for rescued animals.
We have the power to end violence against animals.
Sometimes people need to be reminded of their power of bringing about a change. And when done right, it can work wonders. Start your campaign appeal with a slogan like this.
They dream of a better world; let’s give them one.
If you’re looking to renovate your shelter, tell your donors why – to give the animals a better world of their own.
Dogs aren’t meant for racing.
Be direct with your message. Right at the beginning of your campaign copy, tell your donors what you believe in and are fighting for. Spread the message across social media.
Animal Equality does it brilliantly. Here’s an example.
Abused and abandoned, kittens like ‘Minnie’ need a home.
Every animal at your shelter has a story from its past. Pick one, and tell it on social media and your fundraising page to show the possible impact.
Fundraising for an animal shelter isn’t easy, and coming up with effective ideas to fundraise can be difficult.
While effective fundraising takes time, energy, and passion, with a little creative thinking and planning, anyone can fundraise for animals.
We hope the 18 ideas got your creative juices flowing. Also, Check out some of the top animal charities in 2021.
For more tips on fundraising, check out our blog.