Surprising Ways to Donate to An Animal Shelter

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Donate your time

Volunteering for a shelter is one of the most impactful ways to get involved. Many shelters need help with cleaning and caring for the animals, and keeping the facility in good condition. Call your local shelter to see if it needs extra volunteers and learn more about volunteering with shelters and rescue groups.

You can make more Happy Tails happen, even if you can’t volunteer. Donations from generous pet parents like you help support the important, life-saving work of shelters and rescue groups. You can donate many things to an adoption organization besides your time, such as money, supplies or even publicity.

Donate your skills

Do you have a special talent or hobby like photography or creating video? Photographing shelter pets or highlighting one in an adoptable pet video for his Petfinder profile can bring attention to a pet who’s often overlooked. A great photo on a pet’s Petfinder profile will make him more likely to catch an adopter’s eye and bring her into the shelter. Get some tips for how to get great shelter-pet photos, then donate your skills to help a pet find a home.

Donate your pets’ gently-used items

Shelters can always use some extra supplies. Contact your local shelter or rescue group to see if it has a wish list of items it needs, just be sure to clean any supplies before you donate them. Most shelters and rescue groups even have wish lists posted on their websites. Often a shelter’s wish list will include:

  • Water and food bowls
  • Toys
  • Leashes and collars
  • Brushes/grooming tools
  • Pet beds
  • Blankets

Donate a place in your home

Fostering a pet is not only a rewarding experience, but it’s a great way to help out your local shelter from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about fostering cats and dogs, why you should and how to start in our articles on fostering cats and fostering dogs.

Donate part of your wedding or event registry

Planning a wedding or throwing a big party? Consider sharing the love with adoptable pets. Instead of a traditional party favor, consider gifting your guests a donation in their honor. Or forgo the china set for the sake of adoptable pets. Give your guests the option to donate to a shelter or rescue group rather than buying you a customary wedding gift. It’s a rewarding experience for you, the shelter and your guests and it’s a great way to remember the meaning of your wedding! 

Fundraising Events

Most adoption organizations hold fundraising events throughout the year, like galas or trivia nights. Simply attending these events is a win-win for you and the pets. You enjoy a fun evening with friends and fellow pet enthusiasts, and the adoptable pets benefit from the money raised.

Donate household items

Pet supplies aren’t the only supplies shelters need. Some other things that come in handy for shelters include:

Cleaning supplies (call your shelter and ask what cleaning supplies it uses/needs)

  • Old newspapers
  • Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
  • Old towels and blankets
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Trash bags
  • Office supplies

Donate pet food and litter

Shelters and rescue groups go through a lot of pet food and cat litter every day. You can buy pet food in bulk at wholesale stores and donate:

  • Wet dog/cat food
  • Dry dog/cat food
  • Clumping cat litter
  • Non-clay cat litter (for kittens and post-op cats)
  • Dog/cat treats

Working Your Work

Does your boss have a heart for pets, too? Talk to him or her about how you can raise money for homeless pets at work. One idea is a “dress down for adoptable pets” day. For a donation, employees can wear casual clothes to work one day. Are you a business owner? Perhaps you could hold a promotion and donate a portion of the proceeds to a shelter or rescue group. Think about any potential business connections you may have. You may be able to donate advertising space or contribute to a fundraising event.

The Petfinder Foundation

Not sure where to donate? Consider the Petfinder Foundation, which gives grants to the 13,000+ shelters and rescue groups that post their adoptable pets on Donations to the Petfinder Foundation go directly to programs that help homeless pets find forever homes. You can donate online, or find out how else you can give. You can even raise money for the Petfinder Foundation in other ways, such as taking free online surveys or shopping on Amazon. Learn more easy ways to help adoptable pets.

On behalf of all homeless pets, thank you for your generosity and support!