Make Your Shelter’s Website More Effective

Develop a website to accomplish as many tasks as possible, including showcasing your adoptable pets, volunteer sign-up, and generating online revenue. Here’s a partial checklist for your website:

Develop a clever and eye-catching logo for your shelter or rescue.

Use your logo everywhere, including your website.

Show a photo and description of each adoptable animal.

Be as specific as possible.
Mention disposition, does he get along with other animals, etc.

Be able to accept donations online using a secure site.

Donors’ credit card information should be encrypted. Also, offer the option to print out a form to mail with a check. That form can be in PDF format, which most computer users can read. Include the link to the Adobe site so they can download this reader.
Include an option to accept donations in memory of or in honor of a person and/or a pet.

Include a notice on your site that you’re looking for site sponsors.

You could say “Want to sponsor this site? Send an email to”

Contact directly local companies to sponsor your website, such as local pet stores, pet store chains, kennels, veterinarians, etc. Consider asking others such as maid services, radio stations, and restaurants. Sponsoring homeless animals is good public relations for any business and more revenue for you.

Upload videos and slideshows to your Website of adoptable animals.

Show the dogs running, the cats “talking” to their visitors, etc. Present appealing images of your pets so the website visitor can envision taking one home.

Offer products to sell from your website.

If you don’t have the staff to house the inventory and handle the administrative function of sending out the products, consider using a third party such as ImageKind. You can sell prints, posters, greeting cards, and more from this service using photos of your shelter pets or pets from animal lovers in your community.

Research carefully
any service you use for others’ comments and experiences. Order items from the service yourself on a random basis to check the quality and customer service of the company you use. Mention your online store in your email newsletter and your print newsletter if you have one. Link to your store from a prominent position on your website.

Maintain a wish list of items you need.

Be specific. What size beds? Specify the preferred brands of pet food, type of kitty litter, washable pet toys, etc. Include office supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.

Set up a “wish list” on other sites such as

To see an example, take a look at the wish list for Operation Kindness in Carrollton, TX. Items on this wish list included dog toys and hand sanitizer. Link to this online wish list from your website and mention it in print newsletters, email messages, etc.

Make your site interactive.

  • Set up contests asking visitors to name animals.
  • Allow your visitors to post comments on your website. Ask for their help in suggesting fundraising events, ways to involve kids in humane education and fundraising, etc.

Offer website visitors screen savers and wallpaper for their computers.

Use your logo on any downloadable files so you’re always reminding your visitors about your shelter.

Help website visitors find your site.

Be sure your home page has the title of your shelter/group.

Specifically, the name of your city plus the words “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” etc should be stated.
Many shelters don’t do this, thus missing out when locals enter “your city” “animal shelter” in a search engine.

Ask your local newspaper to add a section for your shelter permanently to their site, or at least on certain days of the week.

For example, showcase the “pet of the week” with a clever photo and wording to describe that pet. Take advantage of technology that links a section of your site to the paper’s, thus keeping the paper’s site updated as animals change. Many newspapers have pet sections in their print and online versions.

Offer an option for website visitors to sign up for an email newsletter.

Make contact at least monthly. In each newsletter include information on upcoming fundraising events, specific financial needs, volunteer needs, etc.

Also include your wish list, such as blankets, food, etc. Use your newsletter to develop a loyal group of subscribers who will respond quickly to your needs.
Include a request in your newsletter to sponsor the newsletter. This could be a local restaurant, a pet store, or any service that might be of interest to your readers. A good advertisement for them and additional revenue for your shelter. Visit Finding Volunteers for ways to find help with designing your website and finding marketing help.

Organize your requirements thoroughly before asking someone to donate time for a website design. Lots of folks who can’t volunteer several hours every week are willing to spend a few hours on specific projects.

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