This section covers a variety of fundraising ideas – social media fundraising, events, auctions, corporate funding, etc. Grant seeking is covered in the next section. We suggest you start by creating a fundraising plan and deciding which types of fundraising are best suited to your organization.

Fundraising Planning

Here are two good resources for small nonprofits on developing a fundraising plan. They include the main sources of nonprofit funding and the pros and cons of each.

Additional Ideas for Fundraising

Aluminum Can Collection

A simple fundraising idea allows donors to help their furry friends and the environment too! Shelters can run aluminum can collection drives and encourage donations via social media. The funds raised from the “Cans for Critters” recycling program run by the Butler County Animal Shelter, KY helps the shelter to house and feed the many dogs and cats in its care.

Aluminum Pop Top Drives

Shelters can set up collection cans in local businesses and libraries asking for donations of aluminum pop tops. After a designated amount of time a volunteer can pick up the cans and turn the tops into recycling centers earning money to help care for homeless animals.

Amazon Wishlist Drives

Companies often ask how they can help the local animal shelter. Suggesting that they host an Amazon Wishlist Drive is a great way to get stocked up on shelter supplies. Don’t forget to reach out and thank the company and its staff via social media. Who knows they might become ongoing partners and advocates helping the shelter in its mission to find loving families for homeless pets.

Annual Bone Drop

The annual Bone Drop has proved a successful fundraiser for the Animal Harbor shelter, TN. Supporters can purchase a bone for $100 for a chance to win a first prize of $3,000; a second prize of $1,500; or a third prize of $500. Prizes are awarded contingent upon selling 150 bones. The event is held at the shelter and the bones are dropped from a lift truck onto a large target laid out on the ground. The three bones that land closest to the bullseye are the winners. In addition to raising funds, this can be a fun activity that includes music, food, and training or agility demonstrations.

Art for the Animals

Work with a local art studio, art supply shop, or art gallery to host an Art for the Animals fundraising show.  For a $5 donation (cash or check only) participants receive a 5-by-7 art board. They are invited to create artwork on the board and bring it back by a set deadline. All entries will be judged in the show and hung in a silent auction for three weeks. Create categories for amateur and professional artists. Host a gallery opening and a closing events where winners can pick up their prizes.

Ask for Shoe Donations

The nonprofit Funds2Orgs supports organizations such as animal shelters nationwide in running shoe drive fundraisers. Supporters are asked to donate gently used and new shoes. Partnering shelters receive a check from Funds2Orgs based on how many bags of shoes they collect. These shoes are then distributed to developing countries.

Buy Pavers

Personalize a 4 inch by 8 inch brick in a commemorative walkway for $x. Wish List

Wish List makes it easy. Shelters and rescues now have the ability to curate a list of items from Chewy’s vast assortment that they need—anything from kibble and litter to more specialized things like bottles and formula for newborn kittens. Then, patrons shop from that exact list, created by the shelter or rescue, and Chewy will deliver those products right to their front door. It is a direct line to local pet-saving superheroes, giving patrons the chance to make a difference by sending their way just the right supplies at the just right time.

Donate Pet Supplies Directly to Animal Shelters and Rescues With Chewy’s Wish List | BeChewy

Coffee with a Cop

Invite local law enforcement and members of the community to Coffee with a Cop to discuss local issues – including animal welfare – and to get to know one another. Provide or ask local businesses to donate coffee and donuts. Promote the event on social media and suggest that attendees make a small donation to the shelter. Ask for volunteers to share information with visitors about the shelter. Inviting local leaders to join in community chats at the shelter is a great way to get exposure for shelter pets.

Community Donation Boxes

Invite volunteers to create eye-catching donation boxes and place them in busy local stores that get lots of foot traffic. In larger stores you can post a sign on the strategically placed boxes asking the public to remember shelter pets when they do their shopping. You might want to include a wish list to help them select pet food, accessories or cleaning products used at the shelter. Donation jars set beside the cash register in smaller stores such as delis, pharmacies, or gas stations can prompt shoppers to drop in extra change to help homeless animals. You can also set up boxes and jars at local groomers, doggy daycares, and animal hospitals where you’re sure to grab the attention of fellow animal lovers. From experience, WWLDO shelter partners suggest only placing donation boxes or jars where business owners are willing to count the funds and send the money to the shelter via Venmo, Paypal or some other payment method. This is important because it’s very time consuming traveling around the community to pick up the boxes. Once in place, it’s a good idea to assign someone the job of checking every so often to make sure the boxes are prominently displayed as they have a tendency to get pushed aside or moved.

Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is a local nonprofit working to bring good people and good causes together by ensuring the excellent stewardship of lasting charitable funds and the wise investment of grants made in 43 counties we serve in middle Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. See:

The Big Payback is their annual 24-hour online giving event which happens in early May.  To view eligibility information, click here:

Note:  Although only charities in middle TN are eligible, it’s included here due to the number of TN visited shelters.  You may want to research your state for similar organizations and opportunities for donations. 

Corporate Matching Gifts

This fundraising campaign is a time-saver because many companies already offer corporate matching gift programs.  With corporate matching gifts, when an employee makes a donation, they ask their company to make an equal or greater donation.

Some companies match the amount at a 1:1 ratio, but some go above and beyond, offering a 2:1 or 3:1 match.  Some of the legwork is already done, but you’ll still need to mobilize your community members.  Reach out via social media, email, or phone and ask them to donate and then submit a match request to their employer.  This is a great way to raise a lot of money without asking your supporters to dig deeper into their own pockets.

Corporate Sponsors

Form letter below requesting sponsorship – personalize and make it your own!

We love to partner with corporate sponsors that want to have a presence helping in the local community.  Working with the (Shelter Name) will not only promote your business to a diverse audience of animal lovers, it will help bring about a more compassionate community for your family, colleagues, and neighbors.

Creating a corporate partnership program with us demonstrates your brand’s commitment to a world without animal cruelty, where all companion animals find permanent homes and to making the world a better place.  Philosophically, every company wants to be a good corporate citizen.  Engaging with us turns your desire into action.

Working together, we can develop a strategic win/win program addressing our mutual goals. 

Sponsorship levels (detail here amounts to give corporation a choice.)

Let’s talk about creating a meaningful corporate partnership with the (shelter name) to meet your business and philanthropic goals.  Join us as a sponsor by contacting (contact name, phone, email).


(Shelter Contact Name, Phone, Email)

CrappyEx Fundraiser

Since Valentine’s Day isn’t a celebration for everyone the Lee County Humane Society in Auburn County, Ala ran a clever fundraiser for those who have been hurt by love. The shelter ran a CrappyEx Fundraiser. In return for a $5 donation the staff wrote the name of a sponsor’s crappy ex on litterbox liners making sure the name would be dumped or peed on. The campaign proved extremely popular.

Create Shelter Decals

Engage a creative person to design a magnetic or vinyl decal with your shelter logo. Advertise on social media and make them available online or at the shelter for a donation. They can also be given away at events in return for a small donation. The decals are a great way to promote your shelter and animal adoption in the community.

Critters and Crafts Festival

Organize a Critters and Crafts Festival in the local park with all vendor fees benefiting the shelter. In addition to raising funds, this is a great way to educate the community about the work of the shelter. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to bring along shelter dogs and introduce them to potential adopters.

CUDDLY Fundraising Platform and Wish List

CUDDLY is a for-profit company with a mission to save and bring joy to animals by directly supporting animal welfare nonprofit organizations worldwide. The CUDDLY platform enables animal welfare organizations to create product wish lists and fundraising campaigns. Each rescue or shelter is paired with a dedicated Fundraising Consultant. CUDDLY has over 3000 rescues in their network and a donor base of over 250,000.

Dog Beauty Pageant

Invite locals to enter their dog in a ‘beauty’ pageant with categories like most glamorous, best nose, best ears, most talented, etc.  Visit the Barking Beauty Pageant for ideas and their guide to running one or create your own.  Charge entry fees, look for sponsors who will donate to cover costs and give prizes.  Choose people’s choice winners by allowing people to vote ($1 per vote).

Doggie Daycare or Boarding

If you have space (or can create a space) offer doggie daycare or boarding for residents as a way to raise funds and create community connections. Doggie daycare or boarding by the hour are great fundraising opportunities for shelters located in or near tourist destinations. These services are easy additions as the shelter already has qualified animal caregivers and staff onsite.

Dog Kennel Sponsorship

A unique opportunity for a corporate sponsor to market their business is an annual dog kennel sponsorship.  Their company logo will adorn a dog kennel for tens of thousands of visitors to see throughout the year.

For the dogs that come through your shelter, being in an adoption kennel is the last step towards finding a loving family.  Corporate sponsorship of a dog kennel will provide the comfort, safe shelter and expert veterinary care that precedes every adoption.   You need to determine the levels of sponsorship and cost to the corporation considering it.

Dog Sponsorships

Encouraging followers to sponsor dogs is a great way to help cover shelter costs. It also provides a way for supporters who can’t adopt or foster to help a dog in need. For example, they could cover the cost of spaying/neutering, vaccinations, heartworm medication or preventatives, or transport fees to get a dog to his/her foster home. Be sure to share on social media when supporters contribute in this way to inspire other followers to do the same.

Dollar Donation Wednesdays

Shelters are always in need of funds to help animals and it’s not easy to keep asking. One great way to make the ask less painful for followers is to run $1 Donation Wednesday campaigns on social media. Shelters with a lot of followers can raise significant funds with this type of drive.

Donate Directly to Vet

To help with ongoing initial vetting, special medical situations etc.  Provide info on your monthly or annual vet bills.

Donuts for No Nuts

Sell donuts in a public space in exchange for a donation for spay/neuter fund.  Ask local donut store to donate donuts.

Encourage Supporters to Host Fundraisers

Fundraisers run by individuals or businesses can help add to the shelter’s budget, stock the food pantry, or add to cleaning supplies. Although the shelter won’t be involved in running these events it can help publicize the fundraiser on social media. Be sure to thank the organizers after the fundraiser and post images of what was purchased with the funds. Encourage others to get involved and suggest ideas for good fundraisers such as bake sales, yard sales, or community walks and runs to benefit animals.

Facebook Birthday Fundraisers

Ask members of your shelter, followers, donors, friends, family, etc., to consider an online Facebook fundraiser for their birthday instead of gifts. In just a few simple steps, Facebook birthday fundraisers can quickly start reaching friends, raising funds, and getting support for shelter animals. Facebook doesn’t take fees for nonprofit fundraisers so 100 percent of any donations goes to help care for homeless animals.

Family Pet Picture Day

Your local park or a nice indoor setting make great choices for a Family Pet Picture Day. You can charge a nominal fee such as $5 for a pet-only photo or $8 for a group photo. Ask a local professional photographer to donate time to take photos of pets and their families. This is a great way for him/her to support a good cause while gaining exposure in the community. Be sure to promote the shelter’s Family Pet Picture Day on social media and by posting flyers around the neighborhood. And don’t forget to thank the photographer and encourage followers to support that business.

Five Dollar Fridays

Every single donation big or small helps shelters continue caring for animals. Social media campaigns play a vital role in fundraising efforts. The Animal Harbor shelter, TN hosts Five Dollar Fridays encouraging supporters to skip their Friday morning coffee and instead donate the funds to the shelter.

Free Pet ID Tags

The Dog Tag Art company donates pet ID tags to shelters and rescues to help track dogs and promote pet adoption. The company has several options and will work with humane organizations to design tags unique to the shelter or rescue.

Give $5, Grab 5 Friends

This easy fundraiser turns donating into a virtual game of tag over social media. Ask your supporters to donate at least $5 to your cause.  Then, each donor has to tag at least five people via social media, whether it’s their friends, family, or co-workers.  Each person that gets tagged has to match that $5 gift to your campaign and then tag five others.

This idea is extremely scalable.  Experiment with increasing the gift and challenge to $10 and 10 people or $20 and 20 people for a true crowdfunding campaign. Keep in mind that most people won’t have experience asking for donations.  So, help your supporters tag with confidence by creating a compelling message to include with their posts.

Giving Tuesday

Created in 2012 this annual November event is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. For free toolkits see

Gracie’s Giveback-Supporting Rescues One Toy at a Time

The American Dog company’s Gracie’s Giveback program is dedicated to supporting rescues and shelters around the U.S.  With every purchase of a USA-made dog toy at or one of the company’s retail stores, a quarterly donation is made to support homeless dogs. Shelters and rescues can request donations of toys for upcoming events or the enrichment of shelter dogs by submitting an application form.

Go Hollywood

Go all out in your fundraiser efforts by hosting a Go Hollywood Gala. Invite patrons to attend the event dressed as their favorite movie characters. The gala can also include red carpet photo opportunities, food, music and dancing.

Grounds and Hounds Coffee Company

The Grounds & Hounds Coffee company was created with the mission to provide every at-risk pup with a second chance at a full life. Twenty percent of all Grounds & Hounds profits are deployed to its rescue partners who are working to save animals’ lives. To date the company has provided:

  • More than 24,214 toys to shelter pups
  • 4,200,000 shelter meals to rescue partners
  • 22,250 vaccines provided to dogs in need

You can easily apply online to become a Grounds & Hounds Coffee company partner.

Hilton Towel Donations for Animal Shelters (Deadline to apply is Nov. 26, 2023)

Shelters across the nation are caring for record numbers of animals while being faced with shortages of resources and funds. In an effort to help Hilton is donating retired towels and other terry cloth products to benefit homeless animals. Hotels across the country will be matched with shelters based on proximity and availability. Matches aren’t guaranteed but shelters not partnered with a hotel will be kept on a list for future consideration. To be considered for the program, shelters must complete the online registration form by Sunday, November 26, 2023.

Host a Dog Birthday Party

Hosting birthday parties for dogs and inviting guests to bring pet supplies for donation to the local animal shelter is a fun way to help homeless animals. Shelters can share pictures on social media to encourage others to follow suit. Be sure to post a wishlist that can be easily shared with party guests.

How-To Workshop

Receiving a gift in exchange for a donation is nice, but getting hands-on with a craft can be just as rewarding.  Put together an activity workshop that interests your target supporters.  Charge admission for your groovy tie-dye event, cooking class, or book-binding workshop.

You can easily turn workshops into a virtual event over Facebook Live or Zoom. This event works because it’s adaptable — anyone with a skill to share can lead the class.  You can also reach out to local artists or chefs, like Kitchen Rodeo did for their popular cooking series.  Workshops are a fast and simple way to raise money while having a little DIY fun.

Invite Supporters to Craft for the Shelter

Animal lovers who enjoy crafting can use their skills to support homeless animals. The crafts can be donated for use by shelter animals or sold to help raise funds for the shelter. At the Bertie County Animal Shelter, NC one supporter sells her fleece blankets designed with paw prints for $50 each. All the proceeds benefit homeless animals. Other crafting ideas include:

  • “Adopt Me” Bandanas for shelter pets or animal-themed bandanas for sale
  • Fleece Tug Toys
  • DIY Cat Wand Toy
  • Catnip Pillows
  • Cardboard Tube Tunnels

The Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh offers a roundup of ideas on how to craft for local shelters.

Jordan’s Way

For fundraising support, apply to Jordan’s Way  Founder, Chris, travels to over 300 shelters annually to raise money for them.Named after his since-passed rescue German Shepherd mix, Rotonda formed Jordan’s Way to honor her life, long spent being overlooked inside a shelter, by helping as many other similar cats and dogs as possible. Each month, his team travels to two new states for up to eight days, hosting live Facebook fundraisers. If you receive a visit, you can nominate another rescue to be visited.

Kroger Shoppers Can Help the Shelter

Shelter supporters who shop at Kroger stores can sign up for the Kroger Community Rewards Program and choose the animal shelter as their nonprofit of choice. Kroger will donate a percentage of purchases to the shelter. Shoppers still get to keep their reward points, so the program is a win-win for all involved. Promote this program on social media and be sure to provide the link to make it easier for supporters to follow through.

Kuranda ShelterBeds Donations Program

Kuranda beds provide comfortable, safe resting places for anxious, stressed shelter dogs while living at the shelter. The beds are elevated keeping the dogs off of hard surfaces enabling them to sleep and feel better, which in turn helps them find forever homes. Kuranda beds can be donated by supporters to shelters and rescues at discounted prices. Humane organizations can register on the Kuranda ShelterBeds site to receive donations.

Lemonade Stands

Encouraging young volunteers to set up Lemonade Stands in their local community is a great way to raise funds for local shelters. Allowing the youngsters to organize and run the stand while educating their communities about the local animal shelter is empowering them to make a difference for homeless animals.

Lobby Store

Collect donations of gently used or new pet items and set up a small shop area in your lobby. Could be a book shelf or table or maybe a volunteer would build something clever. Either price the items inexpensively, or offer them in exchange for a donation. This is a great place to utilize the things often donated by the public that aren’t practical for your shelter animal’s use—big plush beds that are impossible to wash, stuffed toys, pet clothing, fancy collars, etc. This is also a great project for a volunteer to take on (maybe teens are too young to handle animals, but they could set up a store!).

Lock the board (or ACO or director or local celebrities) in the Shelter

‘Lock’ people inside empty kennels until a certain amount of money is pledged and/or donated. Publicize via your local news/radio plus social media – stream live if possible. In between pleas from prisoners, feature adoptable dogs, shelter needs, etc.

Make it Easy for Supporters to Donate

Partnering with the most popular donation platforms such as Venmo and PayPal makes it easier for supporters to send money to your shelter. Both payment services are free to set up and easy to use. According to the Business of Apps media platform, 50 percent of Venmo users are millennials aged between 25 and 34. This makes the Venmo app the perfect way for shelters to connect with a new generation of donors. Additionally, Venmo is ready-made for social sharing and users can inspire one another to make donations to benefit homeless animals.

Memorial or Honorarium

This is a great way to donate and honor a living pet or person, or remember a passed love one.

Mix and Match Holiday Cookie Sale

Invite volunteers who love to bake to whip up batches of their favorite cookies. Then hold a cookie sale either as part of a local event such as at a Farmer’s Market or as an individual event at the shelter. Provide empty boxes for shoppers who prepay and then get to pick and choose from the wide variety of cookies provided by volunteers. Alternatively, shelter volunteers can prepare the cookie boxes in advance and encourage online orders in advance of the holidays. Be sure to offer the necessary alerts regarding food allergies etc.

Newspaper Pets on Parade

Great fundraiser!  For a nominal fee of $5 or $10, pet owners can submit a photo of their pet to the local newspaper for a special annual insert of Pets on Parade. Children can write stories about their pets for submission as well. Often businesses will sponsor the event with paid advertising.

Partner with Automobile Clubs

Automobile clubs nationwide hold shows to benefit local charities including animal shelters. For example, the WV Jeep Club partnered with the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter, WV to raise funds for homeless animals. These shows offer a wonderful opportunity to introduce shelter dogs to the community and hand out informational leaflets about shelter programs and how the public can help animals.

Pet Holiday Treat Tour

If you’ve got a few pet stores in your community with a pet bakery or two thrown in, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to run a Pet Holiday Treat Tour fundraiser. The first step is to reach out to these businesses to ask if they would partner with the shelter to run this festive event. Pet owners pay a specific amount for a set number of cookies. They collect an empty box at a designated location and head out on foot with their dog to choose their favorite treats. There are many ways to run an event like this. For example, the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA launched its Max’s Holiday Treat Heist fundraiser in conjunction with the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Holiday Cookie (for humans) Tour.

Post an Online Sponsor-A-Day Calendar

Once your calendar is posted you can invite supporters to choose a date and then donate the amount of money equal to the date. So, for example, someone choosing the 20th of the month would donate $20 and so on. If each day of the month is sponsored, this fundraiser can raise $496 for the shelter. This can be a once-off campaign or can be repeated multiple times throughout the year.

Promote Bargain Shopping

Shelters and rescues are almost always in need of blankets and linens. They commonly go in crates for dogs being transported and in kennels with dogs at shelters for extra comfort. Thanksgiving and Christmas is the perfect time to remind supporters to snap up these products at discount prices. For example, Walmart and CVS often offer special deals on fleece blankets during the holiday season.

Religious Communities Make Great Advocates

Be sure to connect with local religious communities and educate them about the needs of the shelter. Many of these congregations have community outreach or mission programs set up to help those in need in the community. There are animal loves in all of these congregations and many would be happy to add the animal shelter to their list of outreach recipients. The church or temple may organize fundraisers and donate money to the shelter or hold food or pet supply drives to help homeless animals.

Request Love Stories

The Petco Love Foundation awards up to $100,000 to shelters that submit winning stories about how shelter pets have changed the lives of their adopters. Shelters can reach out to adopters on social media asking them to submit stories about the special relationship they have with their pets. The best submission can be entered in a competition in the hopes of winning a grant from the Petco Love Stories initiative.

Organizations with Ongoing Non-Profit Programs

The nonprofit Animal Rescue Aid (ARA) foundation donates an average of 5,000 pet beds per year to shelters throughout the US. These pet beds are crucial to the health and well-being of shelter dogs. A pet bed provides comfort and safety, which are essential in the rehabilitation of an animal before going to a new home. Animal shelters can apply online for grants to cover the cost of beds and toys.

Local store giving to 501(c)(3) government agency.  Complete very basic form to apply.  Donates gift cards from $25 to $500.

Donates to organizations based on shopping by shoppers signed up for Kroger’s Shoppers card.

It was stray dogs who started showing up at Tito’s Handmade Vodka distillery that inspired the company to help animal-focused nonprofits in Austin, TX, and beyond.  Every year the company donates money to animal shelters. Animal nonprofits can request donations online.

Waggle is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping companion animals and their families together. The foundation partners with the general public, veterinary providers, rescues, and animal welfare organizations to raise awareness for critical and urgent funding to save the lives of animals in need. Waggles has provided more than one million to its community of 1,000 veterinary hospitals to save 5,000-plus pets who were at risk of falling victim to economic euthanasia. Learn how to become a Waggle Animal Welfare Partner and start raising funds to help homeless animals in need of medial care.

Gives local grants within a store’s community (check with customer service, they likely have an employee in charge of this).  They give grants every year. – Can apply for donation, gift card for product.

Max & Neo – This company donates a product to a shelter or rescue for every product purchased. That means dog lovers can donate to their favorite rescues by just shopping for their pets. Donations are shipped out weekly with the names of recipients posted on the company’s Facebook page.  Animal welfare advocates can reach out to the company to have their organizations added to the recipient list. Max & Neo customers can also ask that their favorite rescues or shelters be added to the list.

Online Auctions

This can be a HUGE fundraiser, especially if you’ve got an active base of supporters who will share and bid.  It’s a great marketing tool for businesses who donate items as everyone who visits your auction page will see their business, not just the person who wins.

Auctions can be done very simply (but it’s a lot of work) for free on your Facebook page.  It might be a way to test the waters – try offering only a few items (5-25) as it can get very confusing very fast if you don’t have solid, clear rules.  Just google “how to run a silent auction on Facebook” and you’ll find lots of directions.

Using a host service will enable you to make much more money.  One rescue raises 50K with their auctions.  There are several services that will host your online auction.  They make it much easier and your only job is to collect donated items.  Ideas for donated items:  gift cards, vacation rentals, baskets of like items (these seem to do really well but require local pickups or expensive shipping), business donations (really great if you can get them to agree to ship to winner), services (dog grooming, training, pet sitting, walking but also people services like nail salons, tax prep, massage, etc.), handmade items, experiences (wine tasting, kayaking trip, etc.)

  • offers an auction service as part of their nonprofit fundraising package
  • is a free service for nonprofit fundraising that can host online events like auctions
  • is a site that hosts auctions.  They have a free auction option that only takes money out if you make money (5%)

There are lots of others; pay attention to the details.  Most offer a free demo.  Ask lots of questions before committing.

Online Yard Sale or Marketplace

The Internet offers lots of online fundraising opportunities. For example, an industrious volunteer or a team of volunteers can create an online event or yard sale to sell donated items. The shelter can designate a pick-up date and place or better still have people come to the shelter to collect and pay for their items. There are a thousand variations on this theme, but the bottom line is that one person’s trash is another’s treasure and the shelter can benefit from the funds raised.

Paint & Sip Parties

Partner with a local brewery, winery, or liquor store and a professional artist or art instructor to host a Paint & Sip Party with partial proceeds benefiting the shelter. The event can be held indoors or outdoors under a pavilion weather permitting. Be sure to emphasize that the event is beginner friendly and all materials will be provided including the canvas. Provide food and beverages for purchase and offer shelter apparel such as T-shirts, hoodies, and baseball caps for sale.

Partner with a Food Truck

Food truck fundraisers are becoming more popular as a way to raise money for nonprofits. In return for donating a percentage of its sales for the day to benefit shelter animals, the food truck gets its name out into the community. Be sure to promote the food truck and the food being served as well as the location on social media in the weeks leading up to the event.

Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Campaigns

Through peer-to-peer fundraising, supporters act as fundraisers on behalf of an organization. These fundraisers create personalized fundraising pages they share with their friends and family, using their passion and their stories to garner support. Peer-to-peer fundraising is also a great donor retention and acquisition strategy. Source:

Penny or Coin Drive

The Nebraska Humane Society recommends this drive as a great community service fundraising idea for youth. With clever names like “Pennies for Paws” or “Dimes for Dogs,” the drives could be held outside community stores. The humane society offers a nice roundup of community service ideas that benefit animals.

Pet Calendar

Start creating the calendar well in advance and begin selling them in December.

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 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 on 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 photoshoots, take the photos, and edit them.
  • Print the calendars and sell them online.

Pet food and supplies drive in front of local store

Just need some signs about the shelter, items needed and a volunteer on hand to answer questions and raise awareness of the shelter.  Post on social media.  For example:

Highlander pharmacy is having a pet food drive for (Shelter Name)

We are accepting dog food, dog toys and blankets.

Each donation enters you into a raffle that will be given away on (Date)!

Please share and get the word out!

Our hours are (Shelter Hours)

Pet Wash

Set up a ‘pet wash’ similar to a car wash in your shelter parking lot during the hot months. Wash the community’s pets for a donation (or a set fee). If you have a vet tech available, you might also offer nail trims. If attendance is low, bring out the shelter pets for a bath and to draw attention. Make this a regularly scheduled event and people will look for the dates and bring their pets back again and again.

Pictures with Santa (Easter Bunny, Cupid, Etc.)

Any excuse to get people to bring in their pets for a picture in exchange for a donation.  All you need is someone with a good iPhone, although utilizing a local photographer is always a win-win.

Pizza Parties to Benefit Animals

Organize a fundraiser at Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza to benefit shelter animals. The process is simple: choose a date, promote the pizza party on social media, and enjoy delicious pizza in good company. The restaurant will donate 20 percent of sales from the event to the shelter. Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza has various state locations including many in Florida. If you don’t have an Anthony’s near you, check with other restaurants in your town to see if anyone will help you ‘raise some dough’ for your animals.

Puppies’ Paws and Prints Party

This is a fun event for pet parents in the community and can be hosted in partnership with a local art studio. Depending on the space the Puppies’ Paws and Prints event can be held either at the shelter or the art studio. Typically, the fundraising event is led by a local artist who provides special prints designed especially for the event. Each print has space for participating puppies to add their paw prints using nontoxic paint. Be sure to have baby wipes on hand to clean off paws and surfaces. A percentage of proceeds from the event go towards the care of homeless animals.

Puppy Pooper Bowl 

There are a few variations of this game. For example, at the Annual Puppy Pooper Bowl held by the Great Plains SPCA in Kansas, a total of 441 squares are spread across a 21′ by 21′ field. Supporters purchase squares at different rates: $25 for one, $60 for five, or $100 for a square with a business logo. On the day of the event which is featured on Facebook, puppies are let loose onto the squares. The sponsor of the first square to be hit by puppy poop wins $300 or half the pot, whichever is less. Sponsors of the second square to be dumped on wins a gift basket. A prize is also awarded for the first square to be peed on.

Puppy and Kitten Showers

Along with spring comes a baby boom and it’s a perfect time for shelters to host Puppy and Kitten Showers to ask for donations of food and supplies to help care for the youngest shelter residents. Be sure to post a list of the supplies needed on social media. It’s also important to create a baby shower wish list on Amazon making it easy for supporters to contribute.

Reach Out to High School Honor Societies

Many National Honor Society and Beta Club students conduct Group Service Projects giving back to their communities throughout the year. A member of the shelter staff or the volunteer coordinator can reach out to the Honor Society advisor to invite students to the shelter or ask to visit the school to educate students about what they can do to help shelter animals.

Run a Golf Tournament

Annual golf tournaments are a great way to raise funds for shelter animals. To ensure success it’s best to form a golf tournament committee made up of staff and volunteers. Planning for the event should begin six to nine months in advance of the event.

Secret Santa Campaign

Christmas is the season of love and giving and a great time to launch a Secret Santa Campaign. Organize a team of volunteers who can create wish lists for individual shelter dogs. Then promote the pets on social media and invite supporters to serve as Secret Santas for individual dogs. Foster dogs can also be included in the campaign. Be sure to post lots of fun images of the dogs enjoying their holiday gifts. This is a great way to market the dogs and engage supporters.

Seek Help from Bikers

Members of biker gangs may look tough but many clubs across the country focus on giving back to nonprofit organizations in their communities. Many club members have a soft spot for animals and are happy to help raise funds for the local shelters. For example, the motto of the Punishers LEMC which has chapters nationwide is service to others and that includes animals. Have a staff member or volunteer reach out to the local club president and ask if they would consider raising funds for the animals.

Spring Forward 30-Day Challenge

Annual campaign to raise money for 30 days from April 1 to April 30.

Sponsor Spay/Neuter

You can sponsor a spay/neuter surgery appointment once a month for a recurring donation of $XXX.

Stuff a Pet’s Stocking

In the weeks leading up to Christmas hang holiday stockings on the doors of each kennel and invite supporters to drop dog gifts or treats at the shelter to fill the stockings. Promote the Stuff the Stockings campaign on social media and remind followers that they can order gifts online and have them shipped to the shelter. At the Lee County Humane Society, AL the filled stockings go home with each dog to help him or her celebrate the holidays in a new home.

Take Advantage of Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a global day of giving. It’s a wonderful opportuity for shelters to reach out to supporters for donations to help them continue saving lives. Social Media experts at the ASPCA offer 7 Tips for Animal Shelters to make the most of Giving Tuesday.

T-shirt or Other Swag Sale

If you’ve got a good local base of support, creating a t-shirt and selling it can not only raise money but awareness about your work.  Explore the cost of getting them printed (lots of services online) and then find local sponsors to cover the cost (in exchange for having their logo on the shirt).

You can either use your logo and tagline or invite others to create a design. Increase engagement and excitement about the shirts by letting people vote on the finalists using a Facebook.  Or make a little money by having a design contest for the shirt.  Put out a call for entries and then ‘sell’ votes using the donation page on your website or a voting box at your events.

There are many print-on-demand services that let you sell from a page on their site, or from an e-commerce shop on your own site.  Some integrate with Woo Commerce or Etsy among other options.  You can sell all kinds of items from T-shirts to stickers and lots of other items.  Many of these services take care of fulfillment.  There is no inventory for you to maintain and manage.  You just design your items to sell, the service creates your ‘storefront’ (a link you can share), you publicize it and supporters order through the service which creates the items and distributes them.  Other options allow you to design and purchase your shirts in bulk or small batches to be sold in person.  Here are a few options, but there are lots:

  • Cafepress – design your merch and order what you want for in person sales
  • Printify – setup a virtual store to share, design products and set your price. They ship on demand.
  • Redbubble – create designs and upload them to your store.  Print on demand fulfilled by other.
  • Spreadshop – another print on demand service.
  • Teepublic – create a store, design products, and orders will print on demand.
  • Zazzle – design your merchandise and order for in person sales.
  • Bonfire – a print on demand store with the option to run limited campaigns or fundraisers.
  • Local printer – probably the most cost-efficient way to go if you want to do in person sales.  They can often do as many as you want to have on hand. It’s always great to create community connections.

Tail Wagger

A portion of the sales from this specialty drink will go to help our furry friends. Create a Drink.  Find a place to host the event and invite all to partake.

Throw a Summer Pet Party

Connect with a local pet store to host a Pet Summer Party with proceeds benefiting homeless animals. For example, in many locations, Pet Supplies Plus stores host summer parties that include a fundraising dog wash to benefit the local shelter. These events can also include ice cream giveaways for dogs and people, agility games, and raffles. Shelter staff and volunteers can bring along dogs for adoption and set up tables with shelter apparel and informational leaflets.

Valentine’s Smooches for Pooches

Annual Valentine’s Smooches for Pooches adoption events are a great way to raise shelter funds while finding homes for pets. Select a team of volunteers to build a kissing booth and charge a dollar in return for a kiss from a friendly shelter pooch. Some rescue groups host Smooches for Pooches donation campaigns visiting local businesses with kissing booths and friendly shelter dogs in tow. For a donation of $5 or more employees can snuggle and smooch with the dogs while posting Valentine’s pictures on social media helping to promote the dogs.

Valentine’s Tree

Find a (not too tall) tree (or use that fake Christmas tree before you store it for next year) and invite people to purchase “hearts” to hang from it. The pet owner can decorate the hearts and donate to your organization to honor their pets, whether living or deceased.  You can also do this virtually and create the hearts yourself from items that a pet owner sends you. Then you can do a short Facebook live (or feature on other social media) to show the hanging of the heart on the tree. Decorate the tree with hearts, lights, and roses for a Valentine’s Day look.

Warm Bellies Initiative

P.L.A.Y. makes quality dog beds with pets, people, and the planet in mind. Through the company’s Warm Bellies Initiative dog beds are donated to shelters in need. The Warm Bellies Voters’ Choice Poll takes place during the months of March, June, and September. People are welcome to nominate their local shelters by the 15th of each month and then vote for their favorite rescue group daily on Facebook to help them win 20 free beds. Supporters interested in nominating a shelter can email and provide the shelter name, Facebook Page, and contact person along with email and phone number. year. Additionally, in partnership with the Petfinder Foundation, for every bed purchased on the P.L.A.Y website, a bed is donated to a shelter in need.

Wishlist Wednesdays

Using catchy slogans is a great way to get the attention of supporters. For example, some shelters promote Wishlist Wednesdays on social post media alerting followers to the shelter’s most-needed items. Providing links to the shelter or rescue’s Chewy and/or Amazon accounts makes donating easier for patrons.

Each Walk for a Dog with WoofTrax is a chance to earn a donation for your favorite local animal charity and some fund rewards for yourself as well.  Walking your dog is now so much more.

Other ideas – that require little preparation unlike an event:

  • Ask for unused gift cards. According to Credit Summit, nearly $21 billion in gift cards goes unspent. Shelters can reach out to supporters requesting donations of unused gift cards to benefit homeless animals.
  • Coins for Critters – asking elementary schools to collect change for your rescue.
  • Local Middle or High School – with required Community Service hours.  Some school groups make dog toys or will take requests for ways to help.  Dog blanket drive, dog toy drive.  Offer to have students visit your shelter.
  • Giving Tree – at local business, restaurant or school with lots of dog pictures and info about their rescue.  Tree gift tags can have items needed, food, leashes, dog toys, cleaning supplies, etc.  Can be for Thanksgiving or December holidays.
  • Local Restaurants – There are thousands of restaurants both dine-in and fast food – that support local nonprofits including animal shelters. A date is set for the fundraiser that is actively promoted and shared on social media. Supporters enjoy dining at these social events knowing that the restaurant donates a percentage of the sales to benefit animals.
  • Post flyers about your organization in local vet, pet, coffee shop, and libraries.