Animal Shelter Fundraising Ideas

Animal Services

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Your animal shelter is doing awesome things for animals and people in need of companionship. To make fundraising to support your efforts easier, we’ve put together our best animal shelter fundraising ideas. Ideas range from year-round fundraising tips to event and campaign-specific ideas that you can use when you need them.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Tip: Share Amazing Pictures

Any animal shelter that raises money online is sharing images anywhere and everywhere they can. There are a few reasons for this:

  • People love animal pictures. Seriously. Look at the Internet. Half of it is cat memes or dog pictures.
  • Appeals are more effective when the donor feels emotionally connected to a cause. And, honestly, they’re much more likely to donate kitten formula if you show them the tiny kittens that need that food.
  • Animal pictures are endlessly shareable, and more eyes on an appeal equals more potential donors.

These photos are shared everywhere – social media channels, donation forms, website homepages, newsletters, and more.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Tip: Share Amazing Pictures

Look at this dog. We will give this dog anything he wants.

Fundraising for your animal shelter will be more successful if you can make your donors connect emotionally with your work – and your work happens to involve lots of adorable animals. You’ve got photo opportunities everywhere you look. Make the most of them! Photos of the critters in your care are popular, emotionally compelling, and shareable.

Not sure your photos are up to snuff? Check out this article on how to use powerful images to boost your online fundraising to learn how to maximize the impact of your images.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Idea: Make Specific Asks

Animal shelters regularly need a variety of items to take care of all of the animals at the shelter properly. Let your supporters know what you need and host a supply drive or virtual supply drive with the funds raised earmarked for supply items you need.

People want to help their animal shelters – they often just need to be asked. Almost no one looks at a pile of old towels or newspapers and thinks, “OH! I can take these to the shelter!” But they’re more than willing to donate them if they’re asked.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Tip: Make Specific Asks

“We are in desperate need of feathers, hair ties, and pieces of string.”

If you need something for your shelter, just ask! Your supporters are open to adding an extra bag of dog food to their cart the next time they’re shopping, and they’d probably rather donate towels or newspapers to you than throw them away. If you need bigger-ticket items – maybe kennels, medical equipment, or other items your donors don’t just have lying around the house – consider creating a special appeal for them. That appeal can take the form of a virtual supply drive to show your supporters what you’re raising funds for.

We’ve created a handy letter template for animal shelters to request donations. Use its language and structure as a guide as your team reaches out to the community for support.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Idea: Share Success Stories

If you follow an animal shelter on social media, you’ve almost certainly seen pictures of animals with their new forever homes. They’re the ultimate success story – an abandoned animal is united with someone who will love them and care for them. You may also have seen other success stories – neglected dogs who recover from terrible circumstances, cats who were abused and abandoned that find wonderful homes, or animals with behavior problems that are successfully trained. They’re all popular stories.

There are several reasons animal shelters’ success stories are wildly popular online and in real life. First of all, they’re adorable so people love sharing them. They also show donors that their gifts make a real-life difference in the lives of animals that find themselves at a shelter. And success stories are a bright spot in a tough sector. Seeing a smiling human with their happy adopted dog is a powerful contrast to pictures and appeals that focus on animals’ suffering.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Tip: Share Success Stories!

This is so much nicer than those TV commercials that make you cry.

It’s tempting to focus on animals’ suffering or bad circumstances to inspire people to give – after all, it’s hard to imagine someone seeing a picture of a neglected dog and not responding to appeals for support. But too many negative images will drive away audiences: nobody wants constant negativity on their Facebook timeline or in their inboxes. Focusing on success stories is much more effective!

It’s important to share your stories from start to finish. Yes, you can illustrate the need of an abandoned or abused animal, but when that story comes to its conclusion, share the happy ending! Your ability to tell a story and tell it well will inspire your donors to give. Luckily, your shelter can share a great success story every time you process a new adoption.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Idea: Share On Social Media

If your animal shelter hasn’t opened a social media account to communicate with your supporters, now’s the time. You’re missing out on a no-cost way to share important animal shelter announcements, success stories, photos of adoptable pets, and links to fundraising campaigns.

Your supporters will value the ability to engage with your content, talk with you, and support your campaigns from your timelines. Better yet, you can run successful fundraisers on your organization’s Facebook page or Instagram account and pin urgent appeals to the top of your page. Social media platforms make sharing content easy and that content can reach new donors, adopters, fosters, and volunteers in seconds. Many animal shelters are great at using social media to fundraise and meet the needs of the adoptable animals in their care. 

Animal Shelter Fundraising Idea: Participate In Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a giving campaign taking place the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This global generosity movement asks people to participate by doing good. This can mean volunteering their time to supporting a cause or donating to a nonprofit organization.

Many nonprofits, including animal shelters, set up Giving Tuesday fundraising campaigns and encourage their supporters to give. Giving Tuesday campaigns typically are shared on social media and are highly visible. Encourage your supporters to share your campaign after making a gift to expand your reach. Set a fundraising goal for the day based on your specific needs and provide updates throughout the day. Tell compelling stories and share photos of the animals impacted by your supporters’ donations.

This animal shelter sent out several great appeals for 2020’s #GivingTuesdayNow and sailed past their original fundraising goal!

If you’ve never participated in Giving Tuesday before, use Qgiv’s #GivingTuesday Ultimate Guide for resources and tips to get the most of this fundraising event.

Animal Shelter Fundraising Idea: Host Fundraising Events

Animal shelters are lucky. You’ve got a great group of supporters who care about the animals in your care. They want to see all your adoptable pets get adopted. Engage your supporters in fundraising events and show them how their participation makes this goal possible.

The possibilities for fundraising event ideas are limitless. Use your creativity to come up with events that match your brand and inspire your supporters. Encourage your donors to give by attending your event or ask them to fundraise on your behalf with a peer-to-peer fundraiser.

You can even invite your supporters to bring their furry friends along for the fun!

Peer-to-peer events that culminate in a pet-friendly walk is a fun way to get your supporters involved in fundraising!

Animal Shelter Fundraising Idea: Use Tech Tools To Enhance Your Fundraising

Using software that makes crafting beautiful appeals, communicating with donors, running events, and accepting donations online is crucial to maximizing your fundraising efforts.

Simple image and video editing software

The right software can make developing eye-catching content simple. Want to make a personalized video thank you message or ask? BombBomb makes it easy to record simple videos and send them via email!

Need to make a graphic or add text to one of your images? Canva is an inexpensive way to create custom content. There’s both a free version and an upgrade for premium content.

Tools to make communicating with supporters simple

There are a number of tools that make managing social media easier. You can create and schedule posts across platforms with tools like Sprout Social or Buffer. For a solution that also includes the ability to manage your marketing projects, there are project management tools like CoSchedule.

You can send stunning email appeals to your supporters using platforms like Constant Contact or Mailchimp. The best part? You can build your list of donors to send appeals to with an integration between Qgiv and your email service provider. 

Event management tools

When it comes to hosting fundraising events or accepting online donations, Qgiv offers solutions for both. With Qgiv’s peer-to-peer platform, your supporters can register, create fundraising pages, and raise funds on behalf of your organization. You can also use the peer-to-peer tools to create an event store, track event fundraising with goal thermometers, integrate participant fundraising pages with a Facebook fundraiser, and more! Having an auction at your event? Qgiv can help there, too!

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The storefront tool in our peer-to-peer platform gives you an outlet to sell all kinds of stuff!

Want to poll your participants about your events? Survey tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform are a great way to get your guests’ opinions.

Online fundraising tools

You can also use Qgiv to raise funds year-round with online donation forms. These forms are customizable to match your organization, campaign, or event branding; are mobile optimized for a great experience regardless of device; and integrate with matching gift service providers like Double the Donation and HEPdata. 

Thanks to these forms’ high level of customizability, you can include images of your animals and provide an impact statement for each donation amount. Your donors will see the images and connect that with the impact they’ll have, which makes them feel good about supporting the animals in your care. 

When it comes to your fundraising efforts, it’s important to take stock of your organization’s online reputation. Maintain accurate listings on both Charity Navigator and GuideStar. Ensure you’re transparent about your spending. Monitor your ratings regularly to make sure they reflect an ethical and stable nonprofit.

Other fundraising resources

If your animal shelter seeks grant funding to meet some if its needs, there are a variety of resources that make researching grants easier. GrantStation, Foundation Directory Online, GrantAdvisor, and several other grant research solutions exist to take a lot of the guesswork out of whether a particular grantmaker is a good fit for your funding needs.

Unique In-Person Animal Shelter Fundraising Events 

Here are some great event ideas you can put into practice at your animal shelter:  

1. A Wags to Riches casino night featuring table games with an adoptable pet theme

This first idea isn’t pet friendly, but it can be a lot of fun for your supporters anyway. Set up table games like roulette, blackjack, and poker and encourage people to try to win the most chips by offering a fantastic prize for the luckiest gambler at your event. You can use this type of event to raise funds for adoption fees, fund food for adoptable shelter animals, and more. 

2. Pet fashion shows featuring adopted animals in costumes 

This pet-friendly fashion show is a pawsitively fantastic way to get supporters and their pets involved in your cause. Get supporters to dress their dogs and cats in their best costumes and strut their stuff on the catwalk. Charge an entry fee to walk and award prizes for best costumes in each category.

3. A dog washing event in which owners can pay to have their dogs bathed by volunteers 

Another great way to get supporters and their pets to give to your shelter is to charge a small fee to have their pets washed by volunteers from your shelter. If you don’t have a pet that loves water, bathing them can really be a chore. This event is designed to make bathing your pet easier on the owner while raising crucial funds for your shelter.

4. Pet photo shoot event where donors pay to have their pets immortalized on a greeting card or put into a calendar

This next fundraising idea immortalizes supporters’ pets with a professional photo shoot. Offer supporters pet portraits for a fee. You can offer prints of the portrait or even turn the photo into a greeting card. To add to the fun, you can produce and sell a calendar featuring the best pet portraits from the photo shoots. This is a great way to raise extra funds from your community, especially if you start selling them around the new year.  

5. Host a bark in the park pet-friendly social gathering at a dog-friendly park

A bark in the park social event can be a great way for your animal shelter to meet new supporters and get the word out about the needs that you’re currently facing. This pet-friendly event offers a great opportunity for pet owners to socialize at a dog-friendly park. You can charge for drinks and food at the event to raise funds for your cause and can even set up an informational booth where supporters can come and learn about your cause and maybe even meet an adoptable shelter animal.   

6. A pins for pups bowling tournament event  

This last in-person event isn’t pet friendly, but does offer a fun way to support shelter animals in need. A bowling tournament is a great opportunity to get people of all ages and skill levels together to enjoy a day of bowling for a good cause. Try to partner with the bowling alley to earn a percentage of sales on food and drinks and charge to take part in the bowling tournament itself.  

Virtual fundraising ideas for animal shelters

Looking for a way to connect with supporters virtually? Give these ideas a try! 

1. A virtual supply drive

Chances are, there are supplies your animal shelter needs. In-kind gifts are great, but what if there was a way to get the supplies you needed delivered to your door? That’s where a virtual supply drive comes in. Create a donation form with a variety of donation amounts. Make sure each one corresponds with supplies that you need. When users donate you can purchase the supplies you need with their donated funds.  

2. Animal trivia virtual trivia events

Want a fun way to connect with supporters virtually? Try an animal trivia night! Put together your best questions about animals and charge a fee to take part in the event. Offer an exclusive prize to the individual or team that earns the most points. This can be special branded merchandise, waived pet adoption fees, or another prize your supporters are sure to love. 

3. Virtual dog treat baking class

Another great way to connect with supporters virtually is through an online class. Your shelter could probably offer a variety of classes on training and caring for pets, but one of the most fun ways supporters can engage with you is through a cook-along class where they make treats for their furry friends. Charge a small fee to take part and then send a livestream link to those who signed up. They can watch and follow along to prepare pet-friendly treats for their dog or cat.  

4. Livestream a day in the life of a shelter volunteer 

This next idea gives supporters a behind-the-scenes look at shelter operations. They can see what volunteers at your shelter do and you can even highlight adoptable pets during the livestream. Set up a donation form for the livestream or even use text fundraising and ask supporters to text their donations to your organization while they watch. This is a great way to show others how you do things at your animal shelter while earning valuable donations from those watching you live. 

5. Host a virtual gala event

A great way to connect with supporters is with a gala event, but in-person galas can be expensive. Instead, consider hosting a virtual gala! For a virtual gala you need to livestream your emcee and entertainment, but you avoid table seating troubles and can save a ton on decor, furniture rental, and catering that would otherwise be part of your gala budget. Your gala should be more than an opportunity to ask for donations though. Be sure to provide entertainment to those tuning in. Include a meet and greet of adoptable pets, live music, or even a virtual silent auction to keep supporters engaged and giving during your virtual gala. 

Animal shelter donation ideas

Looking for fundraising ideas that don’t require an event? We’ve got you covered. 

1. Sponsor-a-pet fundraiser

Do you have dogs or cats that have been in the shelter longer than others? Do you have adoptable pets with medical issues or special needs that require additional funding? If so, you probably wish that you could find sponsors to finance these special needs and cover the adoption fees of these animals. With a sponsor-a-pet fundraiser you can do just that. Set up a crowdfunding campaign where your supporters can raise funds on behalf of shelter pets in your care. Explain why they need sponsors and encourage people to support them until they’re adopted by making a recurring donation. People will connect emotionally with the animals in this type of fundraiser and will work together to ensure they get the proper care. It may even be what helps get these adoptable animals adopted! 

2. Partner with a sponsor for a matching gift campaign

Want to make sure your supporters know they’re making a difference? A matching gift campaign is perfect for that. Partner with a local business that matches employee donations or secure a private matching gift pledge from a major donor and let your supporters know their gifts will be matched when they give to your animal shelter. If you partner with a local business, you’ll be reaching out to their employees to let them know about your needs and the match. Try to work with the business to offer an incentive to employees who donate (like jeans days or casual Fridays). If you’ve partnered with a private donor to make the match happen, reach out to existing supporters and ask them to spread the word in your community to earn as many donations as possible toward the matching gift pledge. 

3. Text fundraising appeals

Do you want to reach donors where they’re at? Text fundraising is a perfect way to accomplish this. Take a list of donors who have opted in to text communications from you and send them an outbound text asking them to donate to your cause (and be sure to include a link to your donation form). Keep your text short and simple and let your donation page do the heavy lifting. Most text messages are read within fifteen minutes of receipt so the donations from supporters will pour in quickly. This is perfect if there’s an emergency need you’re raising funds for like medical bills for an injured puppy or to cover a sudden increase in expenses due to a packed shelter.  

4. Host a donation drive

An easy way to raise funds quickly is by asking for donations as part of a donation drive. Set up a donation form with asks that correspond to your specific needs. Make sure there are dollar amounts that appeal to multiple giving levels. You’ll likely find that many people make micro-donations, or donations under $100. That’s okay because these small donations can add up if given in greater numbers. If you make your giving levels accessible you’ll likely receive more donations. Pair your donation form with a challenge where you collect cash to make your donation drive go even further. 

5. Encourage recurring giving

Like the sponsor-a-pet fundraiser, your goal with a recurring giving drive is to get supporters to make monthly donations to your cause. This sets up a stable stream of revenue that you can use to purchase food and supplies for shelter animals in your care. This takes a significant burden off of the shelter and frees up resources for further investment into your cause. To get donors to give on a recurring basis it helps by asking for them to make a monthly gift via an email appeal. Explain how giving on a recurring basis will help and what their donations will fund. Then, offer recurring giving as an option on your donation form. To really hammer the point home, consider using a feature like Qgiv’s recurring nudge and recurring modal. These small reminders to make your gift recurring have helped convert one-time donors to monthly donors which significantly grows the amount of support your organization receives. 

Conclusion

Animal shelters have unique funding needs that present challenges other nonprofits may never face. That said, animal shelters have a lot of advantages when fundraising. Your organization likely has a ton of shareable pictures of adoptable animals you can use in appeals. Likewise, you also create a new success story every time an animal is adopted. With the right resources and fundraising ideas, your animal shelter can boost its fundraising and meet the needs of every adoptable animal in your care.

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