Fundraising Ideas


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.

  • Nonprofit Funding Sources by Donorbox

This article is helpful for developing a fundraising plan.  It reviews the range of funding sources for nonprofits.

  • Fundraising Plan Template for New Nonprofits

Additional Ideas for Fundraising

Aluminum Can Collection

A simple fundraising idea allows donors to help their furry friends and the environment too! Do you drink from aluminum cans? Does your canned soup or pet’s soft food cans have a pop top? They want them! Check out their FB post to try to start your own donation drive.  

#pawstocare #donate #recycle #makeadifference

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

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)

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.  Look up 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).

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.

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.

For Community Outreach 

School class can write stories to help get hard to place dogs adopted.  To see how one school did it, /lifestyle/2022/03/28/richmond-shelter-dog-adopt-students/?

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

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.

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.

Memorial or Honorarium

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

Organizations with Ongoing Non-Profit Programs

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

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.

Local store giving to 501(c)(3) government agency.  Complete very basic form to apply.  Donates gift cards from $25 to $500. – Can apply for donation, gift card for product.

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.

Peer-To-Peer Fundraising Campaigns

Organizations are tapping into this social need for people to support friends and family members’ support of a cause.

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)

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.

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.

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. 

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.
  • 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 – will donate a percentage of meals purchased on a single day.
  • Post flyers about your organization in local vet, pet, coffee shop, and libraries.