35 Fabulous Fundraising Ideas for Animal-Focused Nonprofits

35 Fur-ociously Fabulous Fundraising Ideas for Animal-Focused Nonprofits

October 30, 2022
8 minutes

We live in a complex world, where everyone has their own opinions and their own baggage. That can make it difficult to remember that we’re all just people, doing the best we can, whiling away our days watching cute animal videos on the internet. Yep, our furry, scaly, slippery friends are the great uniter. And that’s why we rely on animal rescues and animal rights organizations to keep them safe and happy.

But in order to get every animal the life they deserve, animal-focused nonprofits need to raise some major funds. As any pet owner knows, kibble and vet bills can really add up! So, give your cat an extra belly rub, turn on Sarah McLachlan’s iconic ASPCA commercial for some tear-jerking inspo, and check out these purrfect animal-focused fundraising examples, ideas, tips, and tricks.  

Oh, and if you’re already tired of animal puns? That’s ruff, friend.

5 pawesome animal-focused fundraising examples

What does a great animal-centric fundraiser look like? To answer this question, we’ve gathered a few examples of animal fundraising campaigns that made our ears perk up and our wings flutter. (We’re very connected with our animal friends right now.

1. Saving the Seas  🌊    

Oceanic Preservation Society screenshot with 3 impact cards, one with a turtle, one with a rhino, and one with a monkey

The oceans are rising and so are we! The Oceanic Preservation Society is tackling major environmental issues facing our planet. With various giving tiers (represented by adorable animals) to choose from, donors can choose which of OPC's global impact, community education, or documentation-focused initiatives to support. Adding images to the impact cards increases the heart-tug element of each program, too—when you've got the goods like OPS, it's smart to use them!

2. Surviving the Shelter  ❤️

BARCS donation page screenshot with a black and white kitten in the top right and impact cards offering ways to support.

Animals need advocates, too. The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) connects animals in need with Constant Companion donors who fund their individual care. With one-time, monthly, and corporate donation options, plus multiple care funds to choose from—any animal advocate can easily make a life-saving difference. BARCS also has one of the most comprehensive compassionate resource libraries we've ever seen; whether you're ecstatic to adopt a pet, devastated to have to give your loved one up, or wondering about wildlife, you'll find guidance at BARCS.

3. Compassionate Community Rebuilding  🐱

screenshot of #SaveLACougars with a headline of "Help us meet our match! $50K" and a picture of a confused-looking cougar

Animals were here first. In partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, and keeping the legacy of P-22 alive, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing project will rebuild ecosystems by helping animals cross dangerous California highways. Their #SaveLACougars campaign allows donors to learn about each cougar their donation helps to protect. We love cougars, but we're happy to give them their space.

4. Curbing Canine Cancer 🐶

A screenshot of The National Canine Cancer Foundation donation page with adorable good boys and girls being sweet and a donation form.

6.5 million dogs are diagnosed with canine cancer each year. The National Canine Cancer Foundation is working to change that. Through advocacy, outreach, and research, NCCF is working towards the cure to canine cancer. Their Funraise custom donation page both shows and tells the stories of sweet pups whose lives were positively impacted by NCCF—all together, it strongly compels you to contribute towards the future of canine cancer research. ...Are we the only ones crying?

5. More than a Farm

screenshot of Bonton Farms About page with a video showing a chicken and the words "The answer was a farm."

Bonton Farms is included here because although it's focused less on animals and more on human services, they bring our furry and feathered friends into the lives of our at-risk community members, meaning that these animals have a positive effect on their human buddies instead of the other way around. Their storytelling is second to none; we dare you to stop yourself from dashing to your car and driving to Dallas just to experience their excellence.

31 fundraising ideas for animal-focused nonprofits

We love animals, so we have a lot of animal-focused fundraising ideas. Of course, most of them are just charging people to pet different types of animals, because who wouldn’t want to spend every waking moment doing that? Anyway, we reigned ourselves in, so here are the fuzziest, squishiest, and smoochable-est animal fundraising ideas around—and a few sample social media posts for good measure.

Just remember: You can always charge people to pet the naked mole rats at your naked mole rat sanctuary.

General animal-focused fundraising ideas

There's a reason that animals are so universally-loved—they reflect the best selves we humans wish we were. Their freely-given love is unconditional, their innocence is unsullied, and their happiness is genuine... just like these fundraising ideas for animal nonprofits.

1. Pet-and-people walk-a-thon.

A pet-friendly walk-a-thon is the perfect excuse to get outside, exercise your furry friend, and support a good cause. Have misting sprayers along the route for any hot dogs, and while you’re at it, maybe provide (veggie) hot dogs at the end of the race because everyone loves a theme. This classic peer-to-peer fundraiser is already one of our favs, but when you add matching T-shirts for people and pets, the photos basically take themselves.

2. Pet spa.

Because your supporters’ pups deserve something that’s a step up from the dog wash. Instead, how about a full-service pet spa, where pets can get their nails trimmed, their fur styled, and their tiny little paws squeezed (uh, we meant massaged)? If you’re a rescue, incentivize attendance by matching each spa session with a session for a rescue pet. Bonus: We have a feeling that getting all dolled up will boost their morale and their adoption prospects!

Sample Social Media Copy: After a long day, we all want to kick back with a massage and cucumber water—and we bet your pet does, too! Visit our walk-in pet spa this weekend to support our adopt-a-thon and pamper your furry friend.

3. Howl-oween party.

Online or in-person, pets in costumes are a surefire fundraising winner. Trot out your goats in tutus and your bunnies in tophats, then ask your human attendees to wear their best animal costumes for the evening. Things will get trippy, so maybe it’s best to stay away from that Halloween punch.

Sample Social Media Copy: This #Howloween, eat, drink, and be scary at our fa-boo-lous pet costume party. Every ticket supports spay or neuter costs for one shelter pet. Get your tickets at the link.

4. Adopt a spirit pet.

Some folks want to adopt a pet but can’t right now—they can always sponsor one through a spirit adoption! Donors look through photos of all your fur babies in need, make an online connection, and then fund that animal’s monthly care with a recurring donation. You send monthly updates with photos so they feel that bond. Once their spirit animal has been sent to a furever home, send them an update with the new animal they’re supporting.

5. Dress Up Your Pet Day.

On January 14, we embrace the opportunity to put our furry friends in embarrassing outfits and take aallll the cute pictures. It’s also a prime fundraising opportunity, so treat those pets to a li’l trim and mani-pedi, then host an online contest or an in-person fashion show.

6. Pet care class.

Your animal shelter knows how to care for pets, so why not put that knowledge to use with a by-donation pet care class? You can have volunteers walk attendees through the basics of puppy care or partner with a local trainer to teach Fluffy some new tricks. Draw a bigger crowd by offering new pet parents a discount rate.

7. Animal paw art.

Every human-child parent has stacks of butterflies and turkeys made with prints of their child’s adorably chubby hands. But what about pet-parents? Gather some artistic animal-whisperer volunteers to help make some paw-inspired art. Just dip those tootsies in (eco-friendly, non-toxic) paint, stamp away, and add some artistic flair.

8. If Pets Had Thumbs Day.

We didn’t make this up. March 3 is National If Pets Had Thumbs Day, a day to ponder one of life’s greatest existential questions, “What if pets had thumbs?” Invite supporters to submit their thoughts, then hang them on a public wall or local tree so everyone can ponder a world where dogs have five digits. PS, this is also a great excuse for a pet/owner manicure fundraiser.

Cat fundraising ideas

From their days of royalty to modern day, cats have always been the most spoiled creatures on the planet. We say that with love: listen, when a cartoon cat eating lasagna isn't even blinked at, you know cats have us wrapped around their paws. Wait, could that be a cat fundraising idea? ...A lasagna dinner and a viewing of Garfield!

9. Maneki-neko Day.

In Japan, a beckoning cat figurine often greets people when they enter shops or restaurants, bringing good fortune. This little talisman is so popular that it has its very own day on September 29, which makes it the perfect occasion to celebrate how lucky we are to have cats in our lives. Offer discounted adoption fees on all cats, and host a party with Japanese food and paint-your-own maneki-neko figurines.

Sample Social Media Copy: Happy #Manekineko Day! The maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, brings luck to everyone who sees it. Share your good fortune with cats in need by making a gift to (Organization) today.

10. Cat kissing booth.

Everyone loves a dog kissing booth, and you can bet you’ll get plenty of love and plenty of slobber. A cat kissing booth, on the other hand… that’s an original idea. Gather your friendliest kitties and have any attendees sign an “if the cat tries to bite my nose off it’s cool” waiver beforehand.

11. Global Cat Day.

On October 16, cat lovers the world over unite to celebrate our feline friends. Take advantage of the o-purr-tunity with a giving day dedicated to supporting your cat foster or spay-and-release program.

12. DIY catio day.

Cats want to be free, but free cats don’t live as long as we’d like, and they’re not the best for the local bird population. Enter catios—screened-in indoor/outdoor spaces that allow kitties to get that outdoor experience while staying safe. And that’s where the fundraising comes in: wrangle yourself a couple of woodworkers, gather lumber, wire, glue, and other goodies, and welcome supporters to a fun-filled day of catio building. At the end, give out prizes for “most creative” and “tallest perch.”

13. Pop-up cat cafe.

In Japan, cat cafes are all the rage, with guests gathering in super kawaii (cute) rooms to sip lattes and pet Insta-worthy felines. Host your own one-day cat cafe with your very own adoptable kitties. All you need is a safe space, tasty beverages, and a skilled mobile photographer. May we suggest providing some cat-themed props and costumes to up the social media oomph?

Sample Social Media Copy: Foam on cappuccinos and whiskers on kittens—if these are a few of your favorite things, you don’t want to miss our pop-up #catcafe this weekend. Stop by, sip a latte, and cuddle adoptable kitties, all while supporting the cats at (Organization)!

Dog fundraising ideas

If cats are the most spoiled pets, then dogs have spoiled us humans. The sweet snuggles, the long walks, the excitement over something as banal as a ball... how can we let these darling dogs down?! Use these dog fundraising ideas, please!

14. Boop-a-thon.

Have you ever looked at a photo of a dog, staring so pleadingly up at the camera with that big ol’ nose, and thought, “Would boop. Need to boop.” Us, too, friend. Host a virtual boop-a-thon during which different pooches hang out on Zoom, giving supporters the opportunity to boop those noses on-screen all day long. And hey, they just might fall in love and adopt a doggo or two so they can boop ‘em IRL.

15. Doggleganger contest.

Over time, pets tend to look more and more like their paw-rents, and it sure is fun to see. Host a doggleganger contest, inviting supporters to submit their best lookalike photos of them and their pup. Share ‘em far and wide on social, and give prizes to the ones that get the most votes.

Sample Social Media Copy: Do strangers exclaim, “Twinsies!” when they see you and your dog walking down the street? Enter our #doggleganger contest to show off the similarities between you and your best friend and spread the doggo love!

16. Bone Appetit!

Host a bake sale, but make it all homemade dog treats. Schedule it for a toasty summer day to boost sales with doggie ice cream (just frozen yogurt on a milk bone).

17. Paddleboard with pups.

If you’re located near an area with a calm body of water (lucky you! When can we visit?), you can take your supporters and their water-loving pups on a leisurely paddleboarding tour. Review the safety basics, make sure everyone has a lifejacket (pups included), and get ready for a day of fun in the sun.

18. Dog toy hospital.

So many dog toys end up in landfills far too soon—but you can give them a second life. Gather basic sewing supplies, fabric scraps, old socks, and lots of heavy-duty adhesives. In exchange for a donation, supporters can sew a new leg onto Foofoo’s favorite stuffed squirrel or patch the holes in Booboo’s squeaky bone. If you really want to go all out, you can partner with a local tailor or two for professional head-reattachment services.

Farm animal fundraising ideas

We're not talking Animal Farm, but fundraising ideas for farm animals. With so many farm animals having job descriptions that go beyond just being snuggly, this group really deserves our respect—and our fundraising efforts.

19. Honey-making workshop.

You get more bees with honey, so it stands to reason that you get more donors with bees, right? All you need for this fundraising event is a beekeeper and plenty of protective gear. Walk guests through the beekeeping process, letting them sample some delish honey straight from the hive. After, you can sell honey to boost that fundraising potential.

20. Bunny meditation.

Goat yoga? Been there, done that. How about snuggling up with some bunnies during your weekly reflection sesh? You can also try guinea pigs, alpacas, or even chickens. It's better than doing a downward dog with an animal that gets bitey.

Sample Social Media Copy: #goatyoga is so passé. Join us for #bunnymeditation on the first Saturday of every month. We promise you’ll leave hoppy and healthy!

21. High tea with goats.

What can we say? We missed our goats. And we love a high tea—the scones, the porcelain, the tiny sandwiches—all of it makes our hearts flutter! Make this fancy experience all the more memorable by hosting it with goats. They’ll help themselves to the clotted cream and they might break a few teacups, but it’ll be worth it for the photo opps.

22. Hug a Sheep Day.

On October 29, fluff up your favorite rescue sheep and celebrate the wonderful act of sheep hugging. They’re floofy, they’re squishy, and they’re ready to be (gently) squeezed to raise funds for your animal rescue. Maybe add a sheep photo booth to really make it a party.

Sample Social Media Copy: Happy #HugaSheepDay! Celebrate by visiting (Organization) at our beautiful sanctuary, hugging our rescue sheep, and giving in support of a better life for farm animals everywhere.

23. Barn dance.

Host a barnyard-themed hoedown and invite everyone to come dressed as their favorite farm animal. Let your guests munch on popcorn and sip punch while they swing to the music. Have a photo corner for folks to snap their best farm animal poses, and offer a few door prizes at the end of the night for the best dressed.

24. Goat Yoga.

Yoga is all about taking time for yourself, so why not add some goats to the mix? Invite a yoga instructor to lead a by-donation yoga class for your supporters and their four-legged friends. With goats scampering around, you’re sure to get plenty of attention from the press.

25. Donkey show.

Donkeys are smart, loyal, and surprisingly funny. Invite donkey owners to show off their trusty steeds, then let your guests test their skills at donkey dress-up, donkey racing, and donkey painting. If you’re feeling really ambitious, schedule a donkey show with an equestrian specialist who can show off how donkeys can be trained to do tricks.

...scratch all that. This fundraising idea sounds like a real pain in the ass. Best to stick with horses.

26. Horseback riding.

Horseback riding is a great way to get some fresh air and spend time with your favorite four-legged friends. Offer by-donation horseback rides and let your supporters get to know your horses while also raising funds for your cause.

27. Chicken beauty pageant.

We’re not into beauty pageants and their whole unrealistic-and-arbitrary-standards-of-beauty vibe, but chicken beauty pageants? Yeah, we clucking get it. Gather your fairest fowl and invite everyone to vote on the loveliest chicken in all the land. You can have different categories, too, including one for “most talented.” We bet one of those hens has been hiding a talent for marimba.

Wombat fundraising ideas

What can we say? We love a weird wombat fundraising idea.

28. Poop art raffle.

Wombats poop little cubes. Why not raffle off some “modern” art inspired by their cute little geometric bowel movements? We’d buy it.

Other animal fundraising ideas

You thought we were going to stick to the script? You clearly don't know us by now. These creative animal fundraising ideas are some of the more tame concepts to come to mind!

29. Plant babies.

If you've been on social media at all over the last year and a half, you know that pets are the new kids and plants are the new pets. So it stands to reason that animal organizations can feasibly bring plants into the pack—tie it in to your mission by classifying which plants are safe to be in close quarters with which animals.

30. Vegan sushi lessons.

In the immortal words of the sharks in Finding Nemo, “Fish are friends, not food.” So, how about a lesson in how to make delectable fish-free sushi to introduce supporters to the delights of animal-free dining? And here’s an expert tip: king oyster mushrooms make amazing substitutes for scallops.

31. Virtual site tour.

If you run a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica or a rescue farm in rural Missouri, a virtual site tour is a great way to get supporters excited about your work. Take everyone on a guided tour, introduce them to the local fauna, and wrap it up with a Q&A session.

32. Appreciate a Dragon Day.

Because fictional animals deserve some love, too! You can celebrate Appreciate a Dragon Day on January 16 with a mini-renaissance faire. Sell mead, teach archery, and adopt out some baby dragons (AKA lizards).

33. National Sea Monkey Day.

If you’re a nonprofit focused on marine life, May 16 is the day for you! Sure, you could host a World Whale Day fundraiser or Marine Mammal Rescue Day gala, but …sea monkeys! They’re so underappreciated, and we miss those vintage ads that depicted them with faces and little strollers full of baby sea monkeys.

Sample Social Media Copy: #SeaMonkeyDay is a great reminder to protect marine life big, small, and almost-microscopic. Make a gift in honor of this beloved childhood pet today and support (Organization).

34. DIY Chia Pets.

For those animal lovers that are allergic or lack the time or have a dastardly landlord, a chia pet is the way to go. And, probably not surprisingly, they're easy to make... which means they'll be easy for you to use as fundraising fodder.

35. Make up your own kooky day.

Think about it—if someone can come up with "If Pets Had Thumbs Day", you can come up with your own dedicated fundraising day... and maybe you can get it recognized locally as a giving day! We like Llamawool Braiding Day and Decorate Your Iguana Week.

5 brilliant benefits of animal fundraising events

You’ve done the work, put in the hours, and given all your furry friends an extra scratch. In the wee hours of the night, you might find yourself wondering, “Are these fundraisers really worth it? Maybe I should just adopt every single animal here and retire on a farm.” While that sounds like a pretty sweet set-up (if a little exhausting), let us remind you why you’re putting in the work to fundraise for animals.

Up the adoptability

If you’re an animal shelter, fundraising events are a great way to introduce your adoptable pets to more people. It’s one thing to click past an adorable kitty online—it's quite another to walk past that same furball in person.

Build your network

Because animal-focused fundraising is often really fun, people love to invite their friends. That means animal fundraising events are a prime opportunity to gain new supporters and cultivate relationships.

Offer something for everyone

From work parties to galas and virtual tours to hands-on cuddle sessions, animal fundraisers are rife with possibility. That means you can appeal to a broader range of people.

It’s socialization central

For both animals and people. The more your furry friends get to hang out with your human friends, the more comfortable they’ll get with new faces, readying them for their forever home.

Help your donors live to 100

Pets reduce stress and improve your cardiovascular health, so it stands to reason that any events during which donors can be around animals will lead to their having longer, healthier lives—with more opportunities for giving. It’s a win-win!

6 tips for animal-focused fundraising

Whether you’re an animal shelter, farm sanctuary, or animal welfare organization, fundraising is a great way to support your efforts and amplify the good you do. Here are a few tips to maximize your fundraising potential.

  1. Connect your fundraising efforts to measurable goals. Donors want to know how their gifts are helping animals in need, so send regular updates and use progress bars to show impact.
  2. Draw focus to your event by building a unique campaign microsite. Spread the love by enabling peer-to-peer fundraising. (And you can do it all in a few clicks with Funraise!)
  3. Your animals are a fundraising powerhouse, so share their stories (and their sweet photos) to connect with supporters.
  4. Don’t forget about the power of support beyond fundraising. Particularly for animal rescues, volunteers are vital to keeping everyone fed, cleaned, and socialized. Foster programs are another great way to get folks involved with your cause.
  5. This is one fundraising cause where you want to get hands-on if at all possible. Invite your supporters to meet the dogs they’re rescuing or tour the sanctuary they’re supporting. The sights and smells and softy-soft fur (or smooth scales) are intoxicating to donors.
  6. When it comes to animals, merchandise isn’t a bad idea. After all, you have some super photogenic clients, so why not send out a calendar filled with the latest pics?

7 essential elements of animal-focused fundraising events

When it comes to animal fundraising, the possibilities are endless. But there are also some key elements that every successful animal-focused fundraising event has in common.

  1. Animals. Of course.
  2. Allergy meds. So everyone can enjoy the event.
  3. A photographer. To capture all those adorbs moments.
  4. Name tags. For staff, volunteers, and animals.
  5. Stain stick. Just in case.
  6. Treats. To keep your guests of honor happy.
  7. Poop bags of all sizes. To save your guests’ shoes.

Animal-focused fundraising lets you give a voice to the voiceless, so get out there and lend a hand to animals in need. With Funraise’s nonprofit tools at your fingertips, anything’s pawsibble.

Animal-focused fundraising ideas: FAQs

How do I raise money for my animal rescue organization?

Use your greatest asset: your animals! Flex your storytelling muscles to make an emotional impact by featuring their stories and photos in outreach materials and on social media.

How do I fundraise for pets?

The best way to fundraise in support of pets is to host hands-on opportunities to get to know the pets and see the work you’re doing. Have open hours at the shelter or host events where supporters can meet the pets they’re helping.

How do I fundraise for wildlife?

Conservation organizations can raise money by driving awareness. Educate the public about the good your organization is doing so that they’ll want to get involved and make a difference. Photos and videos are especially important here, since supporters can’t actually meet the animals.

What are some ways for zoos to fundraise?

Zoos have a lot of great fundraising resources and can really get creative when it comes to fundraising events. Teach classes to local children, offer (safe, mutually agreed upon) animal encounters, or host outdoor concerts.

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