Following are our favorite animal shelter fundraising ideas! Fun, social and lucrative! With any event that involves animals, remember to plan for extra clean up volunteers 😉
1. Have a social “Yappy Hour”
Like Happy Hour at the bar, this one features drinks and a friendly atmosphere with all your dog lover friends and like minded folks. Connect with a local establishment such as a restaurant, and arrange for the event to be held on an “off-night” (traditionally middle-of-the-week days).
If management will agree to donate part of the proceeds from the event to the shelter, it’s even better. Be sure to collect emails of everyone that comes. That way, everyone wins: the restaurant gets business on an otherwise slow night, and you get a list of fresh leads to look for sponsorship and support. There are lots of other ways to tack on more fundraisers to this one, too, like a silent auction, having a pet fashion show as part of the draw that night, or even just charging a small fee for entrance to the event.
2. Hold a dog-and-car wash
The easiest way to do this is to have the event at a local car wash, and set up a dog washing station outside. However, if they won’t donate the space, or if there isn’t one near where you are, you can also switch: have it at the shelter, where the facilities are already in place to wash the animals, and just set up a car washing station outside with buckets, sponges, and plenty of volunteers.
Charge a fee per pair (dog + car), and make sure you use the time to also get the word out about your organization. As a additional way to make money with this type of fundraiser, you can pair it with the old standby bake sale or something similar—people waiting for their car (and dog) to be washed will likely pick out something else while they’re there.
3. Have a walk-and-paw-a-thon
A variation on the standard walk-a-thon, this one incorporates dogs and people in an event designed to raise money for the shelter, and maybe even get you some new leads on people who would be willing to help support the shelter on a more long term basis. The way this works is that participants get pledges ahead of time for a certain amount per mile that they walk, then everyone comes together for the Walk-a-thon on a certain day, and then they go back and collect the money from their sponsors. The twist here is that people pledge a certain amount per pair: dog and master. The walk-a-thon day itself can be made into an event if you have enough volunteers, with plenty of more opportunities like selling t-shirts and refreshment to raise funds. It’s also a great way to raise community awareness of animals in need of a home and about your center in general.
4. Have a pet picture day
You’d have a local photographer donate his or her time to take pictures people and their pets for a fee. Most or all of the fee can be the donation to the shelter. You could also get a local office store to donate supplies like photo paper and ink. Besides photos, you could sell calendars (the 1-page kind because it’s easy), or products that need to be assembled or produced first from the pictures taken, like t-shirts, mugs and the like.
5. Hold a Fur Ball
With people and pets wearing fun, elegant or outrageous costumes this ball could be a blast. Should you decide to go this route, however, be warned: it takes lots of people and a pretty good chunk of money to go over well. A main factor to consider is to make sure the animals are taken care of: many pets don’t do well in large crowds and this kind of event might not be suited for them. In any case, planning for a quiet space for the animals and humans is usually a good idea.
6. Get your local coffee shop involved
If there is a coffee shop in your neighborhood where you often see patrons sit outside with their dogs you could ask to see if they’d like to be part of your event. They might agree to donate part of the sales from your event, post information about your shelter or even make a special dog themed coffee drink! How about a Pawsitively Vanilla Latte?
7. Do you have artist groups in your community?
You could partner with an artist group to plan an exhibit with animal themed art work for sale, like paintings, sculptures, photographs, posters, you name it. The artists would agree to donate a part of each sale to your shelter and in turn the artists would get a chance to promote their work. In order for this to work, there should be lots of lower proceed items for sale along higher proceed items. Think handmade greeting cards, buttons and mini paintings.
And don’t forget add-on fundraisers, like goodie bags for dogs! Plan for goodie bags for large, medium and small dogs. The bags can contain purely culinary treats, or accessories and toys possibly donated by local pet stores. Packaging and labels will make all the difference in sales here: cute dog themed bags or cloth sacks, eye catching and cute tags and fun pet pictures displayed in your selling booth will attract buyers and keep them browsing for a while.
Whatever you choose, try to use the assets already within your organization. Talents, gifts, and abilities your volunteers have can be used to earn money for the Animal Shelter if put to proper use. It’s your job to discover them and help them capitalize on them!