Fundraisers for Animal Shelters and Rescues: Finding More Small Donations

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If the size of donations to your shelter or rescue has become smaller, try to think of fundraising ideas to increase the number of donors. Every donation, no matter what size, is very important to maintain routine services. Animal lovers, including kids, can help plan events to generate many smaller donations.

A cat rescue group here in Santa Fe called Felines and Friends sponsored a “Cocktails for Critters” fundraising event.

For a $25 admission fee, attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, wine, music, and a silent auction. The setting was a beautifully furnished home with a lovely outdoor area listed for sale at $1.9 million. Volunteers worked at the event; three local banks helped underwrite costs, and several food donations were made by local grocery stores and restaurants. This event generated more than $7500.

Could you sponsor a similar event at a large home with beautiful landscaping, a mountain view, or overlooking a lake or river? Does your community have a neighborhood of historic Victorian homes people would like to see? Check with your board of directors, friends group, or any network of social contacts to find a private setting for this type of event.

Conduct a special event just to buy pet food for the shelter animals and your town’s pet food bank.

Coordinate with your food supplier for the best deal possible and appeal to your community to donate money for pet food. For example, donate $xx for 5 pounds; $xx for 10 pounds, $x to feed one dog for x days, etc. Challenge your community to reach a specific goal, such as food for 200 dogs for the rest of the year. Lots of donors can afford to buy 5 pounds of food; these small donations will add up. Ask your local newspaper to write a story about this and link to your donation page from their online edition. Kids can compete for the most donations in their schools, church groups, recreation center groups, etc. Ask retail stores, art galleries, beauty salons, pet food stores, veterinarians, etc., to post information about this. Ask animal-loving kids and families to help promote this fundraiser at school, church, and in any groups, they belong to.

Set up a booth or table at local community events.

Ask for donations, maybe for the pet food idea mentioned above, and have adoptable pets on hand if possible. These events could include art fairs or festivals, farmers’ markets, walks and runs, holiday events, church events, and library or book fairs. Develop a group of volunteers to work at these booths; kids can help too. When locals see your shelter’s name repeatedly at events around town and recognize your consistent efforts on behalf of homeless pets, you’ll be nurturing new relationships and donors. Be sure to have an email sign-up list for anyone interested in your shelter (even if they don’t donate) so you can start communicating with them on a routine basis. At some point, these animal lovers may start donating to your shelter as they learn more about your services.

Read our article on Competing for Nonprofit Donations for tips on making your nonprofit credible and worthy of donors’ money. Prove to potential donors that their donations will be used responsibly.

Also visit Fundraising in a Recession.

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