Best Practices: Raising Money

What an important topic! If you’re to save dogs, you need money to do it. Shereen Raucci of Mile High Weimaraner Rescue and Jennifer Misfeldt of MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue help us to understand some ways to do so this week. We look forward to your ideas in the comments section.

Shereen’s Take:

Raising money for a non-profit dog rescue is an endless task, but don’t be afraid to reach out and get creative & have fun doing it! There are private & government grants available. Many large corporations offer matching contributions and often local businesses will offer promotions, gift cards or even sponsor a foster dog. Look at ways to reach larger groups such as a website, face book, or mass mailings. Have you considered participating in adoption/awareness events or planning fundraisers?

No matter what avenue you take to raise money first consider your goal. How much do you want to raise and in what time frame? Is this an annual goal, monthly or for a specific need such as heartworm treatment or surgery for a foster dog?

There are many private and government grants available, it takes time to find them, but it‘s worth it. A good place to start is your local library. Although we have online sources, there are many sources available in print only so take the time & ask your local librarian for assistance. Also, look in your own community for private grants. Many local businesses will donate money toward vet care, offer gift cards, or even sponsor a dog in need of expensive vet care such as heartworm treatment, cancer or surgery. If you have the resources, hire a professional grant writer.

State grants are normally a bit harder to locate but don’t give up! Start by searching through the state website & look at each of the individual web-pages to find a program dedicated to your cause. Search for Federal grants too. lists federal sources for many 501(c)(3) organizations.

If you, your volunteers, donators, or other supporters, work for large corporations ask about corporate donations. Many large companies offer a grant matching program to employees that volunteer for non-profit organizations. For example, I work for State Farm and they offer a Good Neighbor Grant. If an employee volunteers 40 or more hours any calendar year for a 501(c)(3) I can apply to have $500 donated to my cause each calendar year. Other employers offer similar programs so encourage people to contact their Human Resource Department.

Contact your local humane society. Once you develop a relationship with their animal control, they may offer grants, low cost spay/neuter, or combination fundraising events in the community. Shelters are very often overwhelmed with the number of dogs needing rescue so if they know there are local rescue groups to help, a solid partnership can be formed to support all reputable area rescues.

For local funding you can start by simply asking local businesses if  you can leave a donation jar there. Tell them about your rescue & the importance of your cause. Explain to them the importance of the donations & how it will benefit the community and warm people‘s hearts to help. Decorate the donation jar with a picture of the dog & a short story about their rescue.

Participate in, or host, an adoption event. There are numerous pet adoption events held at local dog parks, pet supply stores, and other area businesses. Depending on the breed you rescue, you can target area businesses that appreciate that breed. For example, Weimaraners are active, energetic dogs, often talented hunting dogs. So, MHWR targets not only local Wag N Wash, Petco’s, but also Jax, Boulder Running Company and more. During local events, be sure to display a donation jar, literature about your organization and a dog or two helps to grab attention as well.

Other events that can bring awareness & donations are walks/5K’s, seasonal festivals, local galleries, meet ups and more. Host a dog wash event, a 50/50 raffle, garage sale, trivia night at a local tavern, bowling fundraising, wine & paint class, or even a neighborhood BBQ.
Be sure you have an eye-catching website with a paypal or other donor badge for quick hits. Offer a “monthly” deduction or sponsorship for a special needs dog. Create a Facebook Page or Twitter Account. Share pictures and biographies of your foster dogs on, or Pets911. Not only will that help find adopters for your fosters but it will bring awareness to your group.

To bring more awareness to your group, recruit volunteers and raise money, consider mass mailings. Send pleas to previous adopters, local dog-friendly businesses, vet clinics and more. Create and mail eye-catching postcards. Advertise in local papers, join conversation with local radio or TV stations.

Finding donors is hard work. If you have a volunteer that can commit the time to locating new donors and retaining regular donors that will be a great help. To find donors, post flyers at local dog parks, on Facebook, on your website, at doggy daycares, groomers and vets. Hand out business cards.

No matter how you choose to raise money, you must make it easily accessible for the donator. Whether by check, coin or credit card, it must be easy & immediate for best results.

Last but not least, ask other rescuers for ideas. Suggest joining with another area rescue to raise funds to be split by both groups. Afterall, it is about the dogs, all dogs!

Jennifer’s Take:

A: How to raise money
Opportunities are endless. The struggle rescues have are the man power/resources for managing the events that can help them generate money.  At the end it will be worth the time and effort.

Getting an event coordinator:  I recommend to all that you reach out to your volunteers and just ask the question of who would be interested in managing an event or project.  There are many people out there willing but do not always know what a rescue group’s needs are until we ask for help.

A few ways to raising money and not limited to the list below are:

  1. Donations – every penny counts.
    1. Never say no to a donation of any kind.
      1. i.      You may be donated an item that you may not find use for it, consider raffling it off.
      2. ii.      Donate it to another group – this helps in the area of building relationships
  2. Place a donation jar out on your table at every event you attend.
    1. i.      Place a dollar in the jar so people know why it is there
  3. Have a link on your homepage that will take your readers to the instructions on how they can donate money to your group via check or credit card.
  4. Be creative with your request for donations
    1. i.      For example:
      1. offer reoccurring donations
      2. In honor of or in memory of donations
  1. Raffles – from the items donated to you throughout the year consider raffling them off.
    1. Consider raffling off an item/basket each month online
      1. i.      Another option is a specialty raffle that you can collect tickets over a longer period of time.
        1. i.e. raffle off a big price item over a two month period
  2. Raffle a basket off at your exhibits whether it be at PetCo, an event, or Rally.
    1. i.      Have the item, a sign and raffle tickets available for purchase on site
  1. Events
    1. Events that can bring pet owners together of the same breed are a win win for everyone
      1. i.      a 2 hour event can generate funds through
        1. Raffles
        2. Games
        3. Registration fee
        4. Food
  2. Sales from selling items
    1. i.      Pastries
    2. ii.      Butterbraids
    3. iii.      Cookie Dough
    4. iv.      CandleLite and Scentsy
    5. v.      Avon and Jewelry
  1. Sales – Ever consider having inventory to sell that would solicit your organization’s mission, name and your breed of animal
    1. Many groups design a T-shirt that they will sell online or at exhibits
    2. Paypal has a great program that will allow for purchases to be made online while creating a purchase order receipt for your tracking.
  1. Grants – They exist
    1. Many grant offers exist and can be found online
      1. i.      One struggle many groups face is finding the time to fill out the applications completely and properly.
      2. ii.      At the same time some grants are easy to fill out and do not take much documentation as others.
  2. Many grants require the organization to be a 501c3 or a partner, but not all.
  3. Do a google search on “Animal Grants”
    1. i.      Common grant offers
      1. PetCo
      2. PetSmart
      3. Rally to Rescue

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2 Responses to Best Practices: Raising Money

  1. Great info Jennifer! You mentioned Scentsy, Avon, etc….I recently organized a Pampered Chef Fundraiser and raised over $600 in one week. Pampered Chef offers 10-15% of sales to non-profit groups, the % depends on the total sales. The PC rep I found also generously donated another 10% to the group.
    Good point on appointing an Event Coord – that’s my role with MHWR. Previously the group had a few volunteers organizing events but having one person coordinate, with a few others helping, it’s more organized and we can better track how much $ raised for each event. Oh, one other thing to mention is before Xmas contact local bookstores, Borders, Barnes & Nobles, etc and offer to do free gift wrapping. We did this at Borders last Xmas season & they let us put a donation jar on the table, and even bring a Weim in and we raised over $800 in one week. Every penny counts!

  2. Yankee Candle also offers non-profits 40% of the proceeds from a sale of their products. We make $2,000 to $4,000 annually on this sale. The Fall scents (Holiday) sell the best and we’re actually considering discontinuing the Spring catalog sale as it’s numbers have dwindled significantly. You can get more info here!

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