Fundraising in a Recession

Just about everyone is looking for ways to save money. Being practical and thrifty are “in.” Raise money for homeless pets with budget-conscious fundraisers – not a lot of money for you to organize and relatively small donations from animal lovers. Think of ways to raise funds that are relatively easy to organize, include a variety of people and age groups, and are fun as well.

Conduct a Contest on Ways to Live Well for Less in Your Community

Ask your local newspaper and/or television station to publicize this. A shelter could sponsor this event or an animal lover could sponsor a contest on behalf of the shelter.
Ask each contestant to submit twenty-five free and/or inexpensive ways to dine out, to buy organic produce, to enjoy a local spa on a shoestring, etc. Examples could include:

Local restaurant offers a 20% discount to locals on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Or all dinner checks are 40% off on Monday nights.

The local spa offers a 15% discount to locals Monday through Thursday.

Sign up for local organic grocery’s Tuesday email newsletter to get a list of this week’s organic produce sale items.

Find sponsors to offer money prizes for the top three entries. These prizes will go to the local shelter. Consolidate all the money-saving ideas into a huge list. Publish these ideas on the animal shelter’s website and ask the local paper and any local media to publicize this list.

When locals go to the shelter’s website, be sure to show photos on the home page of at least one homeless pet and that pet’s “story.”

I lost my home and my family due to foreclosure. You don’t have to donate to view our money-saving tips, but I would love you forever if you would.

Conduct a Contest for the Most Memorable Day on a Shoestring

Conduct a contest for ways to spend a memorable day in your community on a budget.

For example, ideas for my area in Santa Fe New Mexico could be a sunrise drive to O’Keefe country in Abiquiu to photograph the beautiful red rocks which inspired Georgia O’Keefe’s famous paintings. Continue driving to Taos to stroll the narrow and historic streets of that art community. Stop by one of the many delis to pick up a picnic lunch to eat on a plaza bench. Enjoy the architecture of historic adobe buildings and art made by the dozens of artists who live in this community.

Taste Wine on a Budget

Conduct a wine tasting event. This can be a community event, an event sponsored by a local wine/liquor store, or one for just a few friends.

Try a different twist on the wines you select. Rather than upscale wines from Napa Valley or Tuscany, consider judging wines costing no more than $10 a bottle. Or you could have categories of $10 or less, $10 to $20, etc. Charge for attendance and give each attendee a voting form. You could make this a lot of fun by also judging the best and cheapest “store-bought” appetizers and other food items to serve with the wine. No catered or homemade items are allowed! Ask local grocery and liquor stores to donate some items or at least sell them wholesale to you. If you have Trader Joe’s, World Market, or similar stores, they would be good places to buy the food. Ask your local newspaper to publish the results and post the results on the animal shelter’s website. Be sure to request donations and link to the donation page of the website.

Coordinate Fundraising with School Graduation Festivities

Teach kids that you can contribute to an important cause as you celebrate a milestone. Graduation parties, proms, and the many events surrounding graduation are fun for the kids but often economically stressful for parents. This year must be very hard for parents as they try to keep party costs under control but provide their graduates an evening to remember. Why not change your traditional graduation party? Raising money for pets could take the edge off giving kids a less extravagant party. Team up with your school or a group of parents who plan to sponsor private parties for their graduates.

For this party, you could find sponsors for a dance contest with all cash prizes going to the local shelter. Or, sell raffle tickets with revenue going to the local shelter and ask local businesses to donate prizes.  Ask the kids to bring pet food to the party to donate to your shelter’s pet food bank. (Ask the shelter first what kind of food they prefer). Think of ways you can reduce the overall cost of the party while helping animals at the same time.

Celebrate a Wedding and Help Homeless Pets

As many couples celebrate their weddings, they can use the occasion to help homeless pets. Older couples often don’t need more items for their home. Instead, they can ask that wedding attendees donate to the local shelter.

The shelter can run ad(s) suggesting these donations:

Getting married? How many blenders do you really need? Make your special day really special by helping the homeless pets of Santa Fe. Tell your friends and family to honor your day by honoring our sweet pets.

Many newspapers run special sections in the spring targeted to brides. Contact your local paper about this and ask that they run an article about this idea.
Shelters should offer a way for donors to donate “in honor of” friends’ wedding with special acknowledgments sent to the couple.

Combine Fundraising and Volunteering for Dog Houses

You may have seen the “Habitat for Hounds” groups around the country. Volunteers help build doghouses for dogs that have homes, but they’re kept outdoors with no shelter. Work with local building supply chains and hardware stores to donate or at least sell the materials for a small markup over wholesale. Or shelters can ask their donors to donate just for this purpose.

Involve teenagers with this project through teen groups, church-sponsored groups, etc. These groups look for ways to occupy kids’ time during the summer and after school. You can specify the exact amount needed to build one house; make it easy for kids to see what they’re accomplishing when they raise money. Perhaps one group can raise money for materials and another can help build the houses. Some groups have doghouse building days in which volunteers get together for a day of helping animals, similar to the Habitat for Humanity program.

This program accomplishes a lot at little cost when volunteers come together to provide shelter for dogs in need. Once you form a group of dedicated volunteers and fundraisers for this program, it can be ongoing throughout the year to serve the dogs in your area. Kids can get tremendous satisfaction in delivering a doghouse to a dog and his family. A program like this was showcased by the local Albuquerque TV station a few months ago and I’ve seen a similar program covered in the Santa Fe newspaper. If you start a program like this, contact any local media to cover your story. Be sure to provide specific details on how locals can donate and/or volunteer.

For more ideas on involving kids, visit What Kids Can Do for Animals.

Partner with Local Businesses for Low-Cost Advertising to Encourage Adoptions

Many newspapers devote a page to pets one day a week, or perhaps they have a pet section. Here in Santa Fe we have a weekly newspaper (tabloid size pages) that includes a pet section. Often there’s a page called “Critter Corner” which includes small ads (up to twenty on one page) with color photos of homeless pets from shelters in the area. Different businesses sponsor these ads. The company name, web address, physical address, and/or phone number are shown.

The ad includes each pet’s name and a brief description such as this one for a tuxedo cat from a February edition of the Santa Fe Reporter:

“Ms. Boots is a beautiful little tuxedo girl with extra toes on her paws. She is sweet and playful and about 2 years old.”

Animal shelters or volunteers who want to help homeless pets could establish an advertising program like this if your paper doesn’t have one. Inexpensive ads on behalf of homeless pets are excellent ways to garner good publicity for any business. When contacting businesses about advertising, be sure to have a mock layout of your idea so the business owner can see how the ad would appear. Also, take color photos of shelter pets and write clever wording for some of the pets so they can visualize what you’re suggesting.

Finding Volunteers in a Recession

As so many lose their jobs or have their hours cut, many job seekers are using the extra time to volunteer for their favorite causes. Animal shelters should update their websites with a list of any volunteer help they need. Many newspapers have a “volunteers needed” section at least one day a week. Submit your volunteer needs to that list as well. During this time your shelter may be the beneficiary of some highly skilled services, such as redesigning your website, writing a new series of fundraising letters, grant writing assistance, etc.

See Finding Volunteers for Your Animal Shelter for ideas on reaching volunteers.

For animal lovers visit Ways You Can Volunteer to Help Homeless Pets.

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