It’s been said that a dog is man’s best friend. With nearly 90 million dogs owned in the United States as of 2017, that certainly seems to be true. From schools to hospitals to day camps to senior living communities to dog parks to pet stores, dogs are everywhere bringing to joy to those around them.
Whether you call them pooches, furry friends, canines, doggies, puppies or just dogs, there’s nothing quite like owning a dog. You’d be hard pressed to find a dog owner whose face doesn’t light up when their dog is at the door to greet them after a long day of work. With a dog, owners can:
- Improve their social lives
- Feel less stressed
- Lead healthier lives (since dogs keep them active)
- Be more motivated to exercise
- Feel less depressed and generally lead happier lives
- Have loyal companions for many years
As you can see, there are many benefits to owning a dog, but unfortunately not all dogs have the same lot in life. In fact, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year. While approximately 1.6 million of those are ultimately adopted, some dogs are housed in shelters for a very long time and not every animal shelter has the funding it needs.
The cost of running a shelter
You may not know it, but running an animal shelter can be a very costly venture. Employees and volunteers are dedicated to providing the best care they can to all the animals they take in, but the reality is that care costs money. When it comes to running a shelter, even the basic expenses can add up quickly:
- Food: It’s estimated the average monthly food cost per dog at a shelter can be as much as $50-60 per month.
- Beds: Even the cheapest and no-frills beds can range from $25-100 depending on the size of a dog.
- Cleaning supplies: With so many animals, shelters can get dirty often. This is especially true of animals that haven’t been properly bathroom trained. When you factor in potty pads, detergent, cleaning wipes and other products, the costs can rise very fast.
- Toys: This may seem like an incidental expense, but some shelters can fork over more than $100 a month on toys. Why? They are essential in keeping control of the animals and helping them pass the time.
None of the expenses mentioned above take into account the cost of needed medical attention that so many dogs need. While there are some procedures and medical care that can be provided by a local vet, other procedures—orthodontic care, skin care or a visit to a dog chiropractor to name a few—can be very costly.
Consider that getting basic vaccinations run about $50 and getting a dog neutered can cost a shelter as much as $100. Other things like infections, heart worm treatments, consultations and exams can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
So what can you do to help your local animal shelters get the funds they need? One of the best things a community can do is to throw a fundraiser.
Benefits of fundraisers
Chances are good that at some point in your life you’ve been to a fundraiser. Maybe it was to raise money for a citizen in need. Maybe it was to help fund a community project. Maybe it was to support a local business, such as an art gallery.
Whatever the reason, there’s plenty of benefit in holding a fundraiser. For one thing, it’s a chance for community leaders and everyday citizens to come together for a common cause and build camaraderie. When people come together, it’s much easier for an organization (such as an animal shelter) to share its goals and tell people about the work it does on a daily basis.
Fundraisers are also a great chance for organizations to expand their networks. It’s easy for supporters for a shelter and pet owners in general to be supportive of a shelter’s efforts. But a fundraiser is a great chance to get people on board who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in the shelter.
Fundraisers also provide an opportunity for a shelter to renew engagement among longtime donors. Folks who support a shelter may be used to cutting a check once a year or putting cash in a basket at an event every year, but with technology there’s a lot more organizations can do. They can post on social media about fundraising goals. They can also send emails letting donors know how much was raised during a particular event and how important a particular person’s donation was.
Planning a fundraiser
If you’ve ever been to a fundraiser, you’ve likely marveled at the precise detail of the event setup, noting everything from the banquet tables to the food to the kitchen equipment to the order of the events. You might have even remarked about how smooth it all was.
But if you’re planning a fundraiser of your own—like one to support a shelter—it takes quite a bit of work. Ultimately, you want a fundraiser that’s going to succeed all the goals and expectations and knowing what to do can ensure that happens.
First things first, you need to figure out what your cause is and what your fundraising goal is. In the case of animal shelters, your cause might be raising money for day-to-day operations or for needed vaccinations and other medical treatment. Keep in mind that when setting a fundraising monetary goal, you can get donations from a variety of sources—crowd funding, donations, auctions and ticket sales—to name a few things.
When you’re setting a budget for your event, keep things in perspective. You won’t need anything crazy like helicopter parts, but you need to consider every detail from the parking to the food to the venue. Don’t be afraid to go with something non-traditional for a venue. You may even find a business or a venue that offers you space at a discount. When you book it, be sure to find out exactly what you’re getting with the price you pay. Overall, you’re also going to want to leave a little wiggle room for unforeseen expenses.
If you really want to get people interested in your fundraiser, you can do two things: market the heck out of it and pick a fun theme. These days, you can post to any number of social media platforms that can instantly put your message in front of thousands of people in the span of a few minutes. But don’t be afraid to use other mediums either; mail out invites, make phone calls, stick up posters and flyers on local message boards and remind folks who visit the shelter of your upcoming event.
When it comes to picking a theme, pick something that reminds people why they’re attending, but also allows them to have fun. In the case of younger folks—call them millennials if you wish—many of them are all about experiences and your event can be a memorable experience. Keep in mind that “Raising Money” isn’t a fundraiser theme, but a 70s or 80s charity event is. Coming up with the right theme will help you meet your monetary goals, but also give attendees something they can be excited about and share on social media.
Five ideas for dog fundraisers
When it comes to planning a fundraiser, the sky is the limit. But keep in mind that you don’t have to do a stuffy, black-tie kind of event to raise money for an animal shelter. You may not know it, but there are many fundraisers you can do that involve your pets or even the animals at the shelter.
If you want to keep things simple, you can organize a dog walk/run. Think of it as a sort of 5K for animals. The shelter staff as well as community volunteers can help walk dogs in exchange for community donations. You can amp things up with a run where folks pay to enter and go off on a pre-designed route around the community.
These days, it’s never been easier to crowdfund for a cause and animal shelters are no exception. Interested donors can donate money with a few clicks and the shelter can offer rewards or expressions of gratitude in return. Setting up a page on a crowdfunding site is easy and a shelter can include video, photos and personal stories to let people know what they’re donating their money towards.
If you’ve driven around town during the summertime, you’ve likely seen youth groups doing car washes to raise money. Believe it or not, you can the same thing with dogs. It works very simply: dog owners can bring their pets for a cleaning in exchange for a donation. If you want to really draw people in, you can set up a refreshment/sitting area where dog owners can have a snack and sit for a few minutes while their pups are getting washed.
If you want to keep things inside, you could hold a pet photo shoot. This is easier than you think because all dog owners think their pet is the absolute cutest and they love showing them off. You can hire a local amateur photographer and hold photo sessions at the shelter. You can easily promote the event on social media and you can ask for donations of money, dog food, dog toys and other materials that are desperately needed.
One really good way to get folks involved in a fundraiser like this is to keep it simple; offer dog owners a photo or two with the donation of a bag of dog food or a toy. If you’re looking to be a little more upscale with it, you can offer folks a package of photos for a donation—you might even consider trying something like 5-10 different photos for a $100 donation. This is also a fundraiser you can offer multiple times a year. When Christmastime comes, you can offer pictures with Santa. When Easter comes, you can offer pictures with the Easter bunny. With a photo shoot, the possibilities are endless.
Another good fundraising option is pet sitting. If there’s one thing shelters appreciate as far as donations go, it’s the donation of time. The same thing goes for pet owners however. For as much joy as dogs bring their owners, they can also be expensive to take care off. A great fundraiser idea is to recruit local volunteers, who charge a fee (usually less than a pet hotel or a professional sitter) and then donate that money to local shelters. This will make owners happy since they know their money is going to a good cause and someone is helping to care for their furry friend.
There’s no doubt that animal shelters across the United States do a lot of necessary, commendable work to help hundreds, if not thousands of animals in need. By helping to organize and hold a fundraiser for local shelters, you can bring much-needed funds to shelters to provide basic amenities like food and bedding as well as other necessities such as vaccinations and medicine.
There’s no doubt that fundraisers are created with the idea of raising money. But perhaps more importantly, you can use fundraisers to increase awareness of important issues facing your community. In the case of animal shelters, they can build their network of supporters, explain their causes to potential donors in person, build camaraderie within the community and renew their commitments to longtime donors with better outreach.
The sky is the limit when it comes to fundraisers and by inviting community leaders and pet owners alike to an event that’s fun and informative, animal shelters and their supporters can increase their visibility and appeal to a wide range of people, who will donate and allow the shelters to continue their important work for pets of all kinds.