This is an introduction to grant seeking for animal rescues/shelters. It includes a description of steps in the grant seeking process, items to consider before embarking on grant seeking, tips on preparing a grant request, and additional resources.

An Overview

Grants are awarded by a “grant-maker,” usually a nonprofit foundation. In the animal welfare field, different funding sources are suited to different rescue activities. While individuals are often moved to help individual dogs whose stories and progress they can follow, foundations want to make an impact on the root causes of a problem and support programs that are aligned with their mission. Foundations seek to fund innovative programs and share successful program models with rescues across the animal welfare field. A foundation grant can provide a larger amount of funding than an individual but is more restrictive in how the funds can be used. Grants are a good source of funding for starting a new program or expanding a successful program.

The Process

Obtaining grants to support your work is much like successfully matching animals and adopters. Rescues need to research and carefully identify grants where there is a match between the foundation’s goals and those of your rescue.

Grant size and what is funded. Numerous animal welfare foundations provide small, one-year grants for program activities that range from $1,000-$5,000 to rescues in each state. Many of them are foundations created by pet businesses, such as Petco, Pedigree, and Petfinder, who want to support animal rescue. Grants are awarded for program activities including spay/neuter, adoption, foster programs, transportation, emergency veterinary assistance, and other needs. Some grant-makers fund capital projects (buildings and equipment). Foundations typically do not fund operating costs unless the costs are associated with the program for which you seek funding. This can include staff time, supplies, rent, transportation, etc.

Common grant requirements. Some foundations require you to become a member or partner of the foundation to be eligible for a grant and require grantees to submit an annual report on the number of animals saved to be eligible for funding. The Bissell Foundation, one of the largest rescue foundations, requires rescues to be a partner for six months prior to submitting a grant request. Most foundations require a brief annual report on the number of animals saved. A few foundations require a site visit as part of the grant approval process.

Grant deadlines and receipt of funds. Most grant-making for animal welfare is done once or twice a year. A few grants are given on a rolling basis, meaning that you can apply at any time during the year and decisions are made several times per year. Emergency veterinary costs or disaster assistance are examples. Be aware that it can take several months for you to be notified about whether you’ve been awarded a grant.

The application. Applying for a grant is a simple online process in which you answer questions and attach supporting documents. You may need to set up an account in the foundation’s grants portal. Grant applications often include the following.

  • Mission statement (clear and succinct)
  • Program goals and activities for which you are seeking funding (specific and measurable)
  • Program budget (by line item)
  • Number of animals your rescue saves per year and number that will be saved through the proposed program
  • Board of Directors list (including their role in the organization and professional affiliation, if applicable)
  • Annual financial report (income and expense report, profit and loss statements or Form 990 for the past 1-3 years; in most cases, a third-party audited financial statement is not needed)
  • IRS Determination letter

What to Consider Before Investing in Grant Seeking

One of the first questions to ask yourself before deciding to apply for a grant is: Do you have someone who can compile the necessary information and prepare the grant request? This person can be the director, a board member, or a key volunteer. You don’t need a “grant writer,” but you do need someone who can explain clearly what you want to do and has access to the financial and program information requested, including number of animals saved, budget, financial reports, board list, etc.

You can also reach out to your community to find a volunteer who has grant preparation experience or is willing to learn. Note: Who Will Let the Dogs Out is available to provide advice and training. Don’t hesitate to contact Nicole Sandler, Who Will Let the Dogs Out Grants Advisor, at to discuss your readiness for grant seeking and how to get started.

Other questions to consider:

  • Is the grant consistent with your mission and strategy or are you stretching yourself to fit your rescue to the grant criteria?
  • Can you meet the grant conditions, for example, spending the funds in the allotted time, tracking the number of animals saved, and preparing a final report?
  • How will you sustain the activity after the grant funding ends? This is a common question in grant applications.

Tips for Preparing a Grant Request

  • Do some research before starting an application. To begin, sign up for several animal welfare foundations’ mailing lists and check the grants section of their website periodically. Attend the foundation’s annual grant guidelines webinar if possible (Petco Love offers one at the start of each grant cycle). Review their areas of interest, eligibility criteria, types of activities funded, deadlines, average grant size, and whether they’ve funded an organization like yours in the past. Most foundations list prior grantees on their website. Read the fine print to ensure that your rescue is eligible in terms of your areas of work, nonprofit status, and budget size, etc. Most foundations require that you have 501c3 tax exempt status to apply. Remember that WWLDO has prepared a helpful summary of grant opportunities to help get you started or use throughout the year.
  • Follow application guidelines and requirements carefully. Read grant guidelines and FAQs carefully. Be sure to answer every question in the application. If a question doesn’t apply, put “not applicable” or a “0” in the budget line item. Include exactly what they ask for, and don’t add extra information. Note that many applications have a word limit on each section or question. Most applications have a checklist of required documentation, attachments, schedules, financials, signature pages, etc. Note that some funders require the Executive Director to sign the cover page, so make sure they’re available.
  • Carefully consider the amount to request. Check to see whether the foundation has a funding threshold. In general, it is not advised to request more than 25-30% of your annual budget. Some foundations only allow you to request up to 10% of your annual budget.
  • Collaborations/partnerships are important to funders. Make sure to highlight collaborations and partnerships in your proposal, including fellow rescues or shelters, community organizations, local government, or businesses.
  • Reporting. Funders normally require a brief final report on how the money was spent and the number of animals saved as a result. Some funders have their own reporting format. If they allow it, submit great pictures of the dogs helped.
  • Documents or information to have on hand, up to date and accessible to the person preparing the grant application:
    • IRS determination letter.
    • Board list with names, addresses and professional affiliations.
    • Form 990 for the last three years.
    • Annual budget.
    • Demographic information about your city, county or region, including number of people/households; race/ethnicity; per capita income or poverty rate (You can find at this at

Finally, here’s an interview with a shelter advocate and a volunteer grant writer who have successfully secured grants for one struggling shelter. The interview is conducted over two videos: Part One and Part Two. Hopefully they’ll answer some of your questions, elaborate on some areas you’d like to better understand, and most of all, provide you some inspiration. You too can write successful grants! Good luck!

Download Grant Seeking Tips PDF

2024 Animal Shelter Grant Opportunities

Simpler Grant Applications

Click on the following foundations if you’re looking for shorter, less complicated grant applications. Almost every funder listed below includes their grant eligibility requirements (for example, 501c3 status, sharing of financial documents, and/or data demonstrating your animal save rate). Be sure to note those requirements as you’re deciding whether to apply.


ASPCA’s 2024 grant categories will open throughout the year, so check back periodically for updates and deadlines

Athletes for Animals


Direct link to application:

  • Applications are accepted semi-annually with deadlines on March 15 and September 15

Banfield Foundation

Direct link to applications page:

  • Applications for Community Care Grants are accepted quarterly in January, April, July, and October
  • Applications for Veterinary Medical Equipment Grants are accepted quarterly February, May, August and November

Frankie’s Friends Charitable Trust Foundation

The Vet Care for Rescues Grant Program offered by the Frankie’s Friends Charitable Trust Foundation is specifically for rescues/shelters in need of funding for medical care for a specific animal. The foundation accepts applications from approved rescues and shelters throughout the year.

Giving with Grace Foundation

The focus of the Giving with Grace Foundation is on animal welfare and women in need in the state of North Carolina. The deadline for 2024 grants was November 2023, so check back later in the year for the 2025 grant deadline.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Foundation

Direct link to application:

  • Healthy Paws Foundation accepts grant applications throughout the year

Hugs and Kisses Animal Fund

Link to application can be found here:

  • Hugs and Kisses Animal Fund accepts applications throughout the year
  • Be sure to note various eligibility requirements such as no paid staff, volunteer-only organization

Jason Debus Heigl Foundation

Direct link to application:

  • Jason Debus Heigl Foundation accepts grant applications throughout the year

Little Guy Grants

Direct link to application can be found here:

  • Little Guy Grants accepts applications throughout the year
  • Be sure to note eligibility requirements

Lowe’s Hometowns

Lowe’s is investing $100 million to restore and revitalize community spaces across the country through the Lowe’s Hometowns program. Each year through 2026 Lowe’s selects 100 large-scale community projects, chosen from consumer nominations, to be completed in partnership with local nonprofits, Lowe’s store associates and community volunteers. Additionally, nearly 1,700 projects are selected and completed by Lowe’s stores, supply chain and store support centers across the country. Past selections have included building projects and improvements at animal shelters. All nominations must be submitted via an online form by February 19 at 11.59 p.m. (ET).

Onyx and Breezy Foundation

Direct link to applications page:

Walmart Community Grants

Walmart’s grant applications are accepted on a quarterly basis. The 2024 grant cycle opened on March 1. All organizations interested in applying for a Spark Good Local Grant must have a Spark Good account on and be verified by Walmart’s third-party verification partner, Deed. Only authorized users of the organization’s Spark Good account may apply for a grant.

Pedigree Foundation

Applications for the 2024 grant cycle are open beginning March 1, and will close on April 14.

This year, PEDIGREE Foundation is focusing on programs in three key areas:

• Foster programs that move dogs temporarily into loving homes while they await adoption, with foster parents to care and advocate for them.
• Behavior programs that help with socialization, training and stress relief, so dogs can move beyond behaviors that might hinder their adoption into loving families, and to support dogs as they transition into family life after they are adopted.
• Transport programs that support organizations in moving dogs from areas of overpopulation to areas where they’re more likely to be adopted.

Additionally, two types of annual grants will be awarded in 2024:

• DOGS RULE.™ grants are two-year grants of $50,000 per year, awarded to fund new, creative and innovative initiatives that not only help their own organizations but also could serve as best-practice models for other shelters and rescues.
• Program Development grants of $10,000 – $15,000 will support activities that expand the operations capability of shelters or rescues to improve dog adoption rates, including both the expansion of existing programs and new programs.

The 100 Who Care Alliance

The 100 Who Care Alliance consists of local giving chapters throughout the US. The chapters include four categories: 100 Women Who Care; 100 Men Who Care; 100 People Who Care; and 100 Kids/Teens Who Care. Each adult member donates $100 per quarter and each adult chapter gives grants of about $10,000 annually to local nonprofits. Each member of the Kids/Teens chapters donates $15 per quarter and annual grants of up to $6,000 are awarded to local nonprofits. Each chapter has its own rules and regulations. The alliance website offers a breakdown of chapters by category and by state.

Grants to Help Pet Owners Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence

American Humane: Second Chance Grants

American Humane’s Second Chance grants offer financial assistance to shelters and rescue groups to help offset the costs of rescuing animals who are homeless or victims of human cruelty. Funding is awarded on a case-by-case basis and fund grant applications can be completed online.

Greater Good Charities: Rescue Rebuild

Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild program is a shelter renovation program that strives to provide pet-friendly housing options for at-risk people requiring either temporary emergency or long-term transitional housing with their animal companions. The Rescue Rebuild program team travels to selected shelters and spends one to two weeks completing general repairs or renovations. These projects are given as a renovation grant, and there’s no cost to the shelter. Greater Good Charities raises funds to cover all of the project’s costs, including supplies, travel, and lodging. Shelters can submit an online application for a Rescue Rebuild grant.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) Humane Fund

The AKC Humane Fund gives Women’s Shelter Grants to shelters that house victims of domestic abuse with their pets and to animal shelters that provide temporary or permanent housing for pets of victims of domestic violence and have a formal, established working relationship with at least one nonprofit shelter for victims of domestic violence. Applications can be completed online.

RedRover Relief Safe Escape Grant

The RedRover Relief Safe Escape grant program helps families to escape domestic violence along with their pets. Funding is mainly provided to help with the cost of temporary pet boarding while the client is in a domestic violence shelter. Applications can be submitted online by a domestic violence advocate.

RedRover Safe Housing Grants

RedRover’s Safe Housing grants award up to $60,000 to nonprofit domestic violence and animal organizations across the U.S. Funds can be used to build or renovate spaces dedicated to housing survivors’ pets, begin a foster program to care for survivors’ pets, pay for temporary boarding for survivors’ pets, or a combination of these services. Grants may also be used for routine veterinary care and emergency veterinary care for the pets of domestic violence victims. Applications can be submitted online.

Grant Opportunities That Require More Advance Planning to be Eligible

The following foundations are linked to some of the most well-known pet product companies, and most have ample dollars to award. So, it’s worth considering applying for these larger grants, but be sure to plan ahead and take the extra steps required to be eligible for grants.

The Binky Foundation

Bissell Pet Foundation

  • You must join their partner program, Partners for Pets, at least 6 months prior to applying
  • Their grant cycle opens twice a year, typically in the spring and fall, so watch their website’s grant page for updates and announcements

Purina Foundation

  • Your organization must be located within 50 miles of a Purina manufacturing facility to be eligible
  • Note other giving opportunities through Purina such as pet food donations

Petco Love

  • Your organization must first apply to be a Petco partner before you can apply for a grant
  • Petco Love grant cycle deadlines for 2024 not announced yet, but expected to begin in April.

Petfinder Foundation

  • Your organization must first create an account to gain access to application forms

PetSmart Charities

  • Your organization must be a PetSmart Charities Adoption partner and have completed 100 adoptions in a PetSmart store over the last 12 months to qualify for most grants
  • .
    PetSmart Charities 2024 grant opportunities have not opened yet.

Rachael Ray Foundation/Best Friends Animal Society

Your organization must demonstrate a formal business plan and attend a training workshop on running a nonprofit to qualify for grant opportunities. Rachael Ray grant deadlines have not been posted yet for 2024.