A humane society is a group that aims to stop human or animal suffering. Usually, the term is used mostly for organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals. In the United Kingdom, it may also be a society that provides a waterways rescue, prevention, and recovery service, or that gives awards for the saving of human life. In the United States, Humane Society targets five main issues: factory farming, animal fighting, the fur trade, puppy mills, and wildlife abuse.
Animal shelters and animal rescue groups do amazing things for animals and our communities. They take pets and other animals in when they are left or abandoned by previous owners. They do their best to care for sick and injured animals and find homes for the animals they have helped.
For everything that they do, they often do it on a very low budget. Because Humane Society and other similar organizations are usually not for profit, it’s very hard for them to fund their cause and all the costs that go into it: food, bedding, veterinary care, medicine, and more.
Humane Society Fundraising Ideas
To help offset their costs, animal shelters, and rescue groups fundraise.
Here are 12 popular and easy fundraising ideas for animal rescues, animal shelters, and Humane Society chapters.
Crowdfunding is one of the most efficient ways to raise money for your nonprofit organization. It helps you collect smaller amounts of donations from a crowd of huge number of people. It is particularly great if your research says you have quite a few number of non-major donors. You can create a crowdfunding page online and reach out to these people to help you meet a specific fundraising goal.
Donorbox lets you create highly optimized and effective crowdfunding pages that have great potential for online shareability as well as posting updates. You can also add a “Subscribe” button to your page for potential donors who would like to first check out the progress and then give to your organization. Your page will also come with a fundraising thermometer and a donor wall to help you inspire donors to make more donations.
2. Pet Photo Shoot
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.
If you struggle to find a professional photographer who would photograph for free, try splitting the profit 50-50.
3. Honor Your Pet
Losing a pet can be very difficult. The death of a pet can be a truly traumatic experience and create a large void in our hearts and lives—comparable to losing a close family member or friend. Pets become a part of our families and daily life.
It can be difficult to move on.
Fundraising on behalf and in honor of their furry friends has helped many people deal with their grief. Helping create a better future for animals like your pet can help create some sense and meaning.
Start a memorial campaign today and tell the story of the special person or animal in your life.
4. Pet Sitting
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.
The owners will feel good knowing their money will be helping other animals like theirs! Make sure to promote the service on social media and by handing out flyers.
5. Cutest Pet Contest
The “Cutest Pet Contest” can be run in multiple ways. You can run the contest as part of an event, as an event in its own right, or on social media.
If you’re running the event physically, each participant can post a photo of their pet on a corkboard along with an envelope. Votes are cast with $1 bills. Whichever pet’s photo has the most money wins!
Proceeds go toward your fundraising efforts.
If you’re running the contest online, you can ask participants to submit the photos of their pets via a message or via an online form. Whichever pet gets most likes wins. You can partner with a corporate who would match the likes with dollars (1 like = 1 dollar), or you can ask your audience to vote by donating online. A participant can mention the name or the number of the pet they’re voting for, and every dollar they give can count as a separate vote. This can encourage larger donations.
6. Sponsor a Pet
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.
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.
7. Cat Café
While opening a full-blown cat café isn’t what we’re suggesting, organizing a day or two of “cat café” in a local coffee shop is a great humane society fundraising idea.
Cat cafes are an immensely popular concept that originated in Japan. In the years following the opening of the first cat café, hundreds of cafes popped up around the world. The idea is that you visit a café, as per usual, except the café is “inhabited” with cat toys and cats.
Rules depend on the café. In some, you are allowed to pet the cats, in some you are only allowed to do so if the cats come to you. In some, the cats are adoptable, and in some, they’re not. Some cat cafes allow drop-ins, some require bookings.
To take this humane society fundraising idea forward, contact local coffee shops and get one to agree to donate their space for a day (or more). In partnership with the Humane Society or another animal shelter, have 5-10 cats come for the duration of your project.
Charge entering fees to all visitors.
8. Dog Washing
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.
9. Yoga with Pets
This humane society fundraising idea is very easy to organize and has enormous potential to bring funds.
Find a suitable venue (a gym, a local yoga studio, or a large room), and get a yoga teacher to volunteer 2 hours of their time.
Have the participants get their om on and at the same time support animals. You can organize yoga with cats or dogs, and there has recently been even a yoga with goats!
Create a registration form on your website and create an event on Facebook to promote the fundraiser. Limit the class and have participants pay in advance to join the class (and give donations).
To maximize the fundraising potential, organize a raffle. Put together a yoga-themed raffle basket (get local studios or Etsy vendors to donate some items). Start the raffle tickets at $5 each, and make them available the day of the event!
10. Pet Calendar
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:
- Contact a variety of businesses and see who would allow you to take images at their locations and who would like to sponsor the project.
- Use your Facebook page to ask who would be interested in having their pet in the calendar.
- Run a “photo contest” on Facebook for anyone interested in having their pet in the calendar – the 13 photos with the most votes win the opportunity to have a photo session and be in the calendar.
- Schedule all the photo shoots, take the photos, and edit them.
- Print the calendars and sell them online.
If you’re passionate about wildlife and/or would like to organize an event that doesn’t necessarily involve pets, try organizing a bird-a-thon.
Bird-a-thons are competitive and educational events for any level of birdwatchers where participants collect pledges for finding and counting bird species. Each counter collects pledges from friends, relatives, neighbors, businesses, and/or corporations for either a per-bird-species pledge or a one-time donation for all the birds that they count in that one 24-hour period.
Organize a guided trip or allow participants to count independently. Get a local birding expert to lead a trip. Participants will have fun, make new friends, connect with other bird lovers, and fundraise – all at the same time!
This humane society fundraising idea has a lot of potential. For example, since Bird-a-thon began in 1983, thousands of supporters have raised over $3 million for Mass Audubon, its sanctuaries, and its programs across the state.
12. Relax and Destress with Puppies and Kittens
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 which 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.
Of course, make sure vets give the green light, and that you don’t overwhelm the animals.
To hit two birds with one stone, you could try and make sure all puppies and kittens are adaptable. Maybe someone falls in love with one and you find them a happy home!
Fundraising for animals, whether they’re pets, wildlife, or shelter animals, is a worthwhile and noble cause.
Luckily, there are plenty of fundraising ideas out there that can inspire you to start your own fundraiser to help the Humane Society.
We hope we’ve encouraged you to find what works best for you.
For more fundraising tips, check out our blog.