Today’s dog parks bear little resemblance to those of yore. Not only are they designed with a range of amenities for both dogs and their humans, but they also add value to communities, supporting walkable neighborhoods and strong social ties.
However, funding to build dog parks or even just keep them clean, safe, and up-to-date isn’t always immediately available. As a result, you need to get creative to capture the attention and the financial support of donors and community stakeholders.
Luckily, you don’t have to go far for a unique, impactful approach. If you’re working with a team of pet owners, dog shelters, and pet-related businesses, such as pet stores and dog daycares, you likely have everything you need to get started. These organizations can help you launch dog-themed fundraisers, keeping your fundraising efforts on-brand with your ultimate goal of creating a dog park.
While you might not think of supplies like dog houses and doggie bowls as powerful fundraising tools, with the right spin, they can raise thousands for your dog park. In this guide, we’ll look at:
While these creative fundraisers are particularly well-suited to dog owners, when properly implemented, they also appeal to anyone who supports their local community, animal and human well-being, and the arts. Let’s get started.
Steps to Hosting a Dog House Fundraiser
A dog house fundraiser is a relatively simple fundraiser that can bring in significant funding for your dog park. We’ve seen it successfully used to raise critical funds for shelters, rescues, and dog park associations.
In a dog house fundraiser, you’ll raise money by auctioning off artist-embellished dog houses, attracting the support of dog lovers and art lovers alike. To make this fundraiser work for you, here’s what you’ll need:
- Dog houses. Reach out to your business contacts, including kennels, shelters, and pet stores, to see if any have extra, unadorned wooden dog houses they’d be willing to donate or sell at a discount to your cause. In exchange, you can offer them free publicity during the auction, on social media, and at your completed dog park.
- Artists. Next, you’ll need a gaggle of volunteer artists to turn each dog house into a piece of art. Make a call for volunteers using your communication channels, including email, newsletters, blogs, and social media. You’ll be surprised how many combination-dog lovers-artists will want to help out!
- Auction software. As you get close to starting the dog house auction, you’ll want an easy way to track online bidding, bidding by phone, and a silent auction all in one place. Since you likely have responsibilities beyond organizing this fundraiser, you want to avoid spending all of your time fielding phone calls, emails, and text messages. Revelation Pets recommends using software that has features to help automate your day-to-day operations, such as a mobile-friendly portal, automatic notifications and reminders, and easy payment processing.
- Marketing plan. To reach as many people as possible, you’ll want to have a clear, adaptable marketing strategy. For local bidders, you might decide to post flyers in popular areas and add an event on your website. However, with this type of fundraiser, you also have the opportunity to expand your reach beyond your local community. Market your fundraiser with a local newspaper article, email campaign, social media posts, and potentially a national press release if you’re looking to engage a wider audience. Your artists, too, may have a following with whom they can share auction details.
When you follow these steps in the months before your dog house auction, most of your work will already have been done by the time the auction begins. Just remember to regularly update donors on the fundraising progress and thank all participants for their assistance. Showing your gratitude in a tangible way is crucial for retaining your stakeholders’ support for the next time you need it.
Steps to Hosting a Doggie Bowl Fundraiser
While a dog house fundraiser focuses on big-ticket donations, a doggie bowl fundraiser takes an opposite but equally impactful approach.
With a doggie bowl fundraiser, you place a large number of dog bowls (100+) in a well-traveled location in town—like in front of a popular restaurant or shop—along with a sign asking for spare change to be placed in the bowls to support the dog park.
A dog bowl fundraiser is a creative way to reach those who would not necessarily be interested in buying an expensive dog house but who are willing to donate small amounts of money. Even though each donation is small, it quickly adds up!
For this fundraiser, you’ll need the following:
- Business partnerships. While partnerships are crucial to the success of most fundraisers, they’re particularly important to this one. You can leverage partnerships to donate the bowls for the fundraiser, determine the best location to place them, and share the fundraiser with the local community. For instance, you could partner with a kennel to hold the fundraiser in front of its store and share the news with the customers stored in its dog boarding software. It’s a win-win: Customers see the positive impact the business is having on the community, and you fundraise the necessary money for your dog park. Ultimately, strong partnerships set the stage for the rest of these steps.
- Dog bowls. Like the dog house fundraiser above, your dog bowls will be the foundational element of this fundraising idea. Because of their smaller size and upfront cost, you may find these are easier than dog houses to acquire by donation.
- Location. To be successful, you need to choose the right spot to place your bowls. This should be a popular destination within walking distance of homes and businesses that receives regular pedestrian traffic. Leverage your partnerships from above to determine where you’ll place your bowls in town.
- Marketing plan. One of the benefits of this fundraiser is that once it’s set up in a well-traversed location with clear signage, much of the marketing is passive. Nevertheless, as with the dog house fundraiser above, you should still take a multichannel marketing approach to this fundraiser. Because of the geographic constraints of a doggie bowl fundraiser, you’ll want to focus your attention on raising awareness among local donors, leveraging community networks, local papers, direct mail, and your social media presence.
All this said, your fundraiser will likely fail if you don’t earn support from your immediate community for your end goal: the dog park. Thus, before implementing either of the above fundraisers, plan to get buy-in from your local community members. To do this, you might:
- Conduct a community needs assessment and share the impact the dog park will have on the community.
- Detail the high-quality amenities for dogs and their humans that you’ll install at the planned dog park.
- Hold public meetings to collect and respond to feedback from individuals and businesses on your dog park plans.
It’s pretty simple: By incorporating community feedback, you’re more likely to create a project that your community feels invested in and wants to support. Pair that support with a fun, rewarding fundraiser like those above, and you’re setting yourself up for success.
But these ideas are just a start! Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a fundraiser that’s appealing to and will connect with your target audience. For best results, survey your supporters and community members about their motivations for giving and what they’d like to see in return.
Perhaps, your audience consists of many fashion-forward dog owners interested in offering their support in return for matching dog and human bandanas. Or, if your audience is a utilitarian bunch, you might partner with a local dog grooming business to host a dog wash event. When fundraising for your dog park, the possibilities are endless!