Dog Rescue Fundraising: Effective Ideas and Strategies for Canine Charities

Dog rescue charities simply wouldn’t be able to survive without donations and support from their local communities. As a rescue charity, there are daily costs to keep running and to keep the dogs in your care well fed and well looked after. It’s estimated that 250,000 animals go to rescue centres every year in the UK, which continues to put more and more pressure on dog homes. And with the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy bills, it’s only getting more expensive. Fundraising has never been so important. 

Here, we’ll run through a few ideas of how to fundraise for your dog rescue charity. 

Fundraising Ideas for Canine Charities

Let’s look at some quick fundraising ideas to get you thinking. 

Sponsored Dog Walks and Runs

There’s no doubt about it, dogs and their owners love a walk. So, what better way to raise money for your canine charity than by organising a sponsored dog walk or dog run? 

You can ask people for donations to take part and they can gather their own sponsorship funds. You can sell doggie ice cream and cakes on the day as well as some refreshments for their humans. You can run raffles, have artists drawing pictures of owners and their dogs and have experts demonstrating how to teach the dogs new tricks. You’ll need to find an appropriate walk and venue, and ensure you have all your licences in place from the local council. Make sure there are plenty of poo bins along the way, and try and do your walk in a loop so people can keep coming back to your stalls to part with their cash. 

Sponsored dog walks can be hugely successful, whether you run a small or larger event. In fact, in 2023 the International Agria Dog Walk raised over £50,000 for a selection of dog charities. It had a UK leg for the first time, held on National Dog Rescue Day and raised £18,500 for a selection of rescues. 

Dog Shows and Competitions

Many dog owners and their pooches watch Crufts in awe and wish that one day they could take part. Well now they can. 

Running dog shows and competitions is a perfect way to raise funds and engage with the local community. First, you’ll need a venue to host it. If you have space at your shelter that’s perfect, as it gives you an opportunity to throw open your doors so the general public can learn more about the work you do. Make sure you give the shelter a spruce up and have enough space for the competition itself and some food stalls. 

You’ll need to decide on the categories, whether cutest puppy, best pedigree or scruffiest pooch. You can choose the categories yourself but try and make it as inclusive as possible to encourage as many people (and dogs) to enter as possible. You can show dogs from the shelter too, which can be a great way to encourage adoption or sponsorship. Promotion will be key to get the local community engaged with your show. 

Online Charity Auctions

Online charity auctions will see you auctioning off items for people to bid for online. You can set this up through Facebook or via bidding software like OneCause or QGVI. You’ll need to investigate the mechanism and software that works for you, and make sure you secure some decent prizes that people will be happy to bid for. 

Try and get creative with your prizes too. Yes, people will be happy to bid for items for their dog like a new lead or collar, but can you also offer bigger ticket prizes like a two-night stay in a dog friendly hotel in the countryside? Now that would be a great prize for a dog lover and their four-legged friend. 

Digital Fundraising Strategies for Dog Rescue Charities

Events are ideal for a big sponsorship boost, while digital fundraising offers opportunities for ongoing fundraising to supplement your bigger events. 

Crowdfunding Campaigns

With crowdfunding, you ask people to provide funds for your fundraising campaign in exchange for something if you reach your total. You can set different levels of fundraising that unlock a sliding scale of prizes. 

You need to tell a story and get people to buy into the fantastic work you’re doing. Why does your shelter exist? What work do you do? What success stories can you shout about? It also helps to use emotive imagery of the dogs in your care and an explanation of how funds will directly go to support them. 

Think about the different levels of prizes you can offer too. This could include sponsoring a dog, doggie merchandise or a night in a doggie hotel for example. You need to give people a reason to believe in you but also a reason to part with their cash. 

Social Media Fundraising

Social media is the perfect tool to promote your fundraising events and your crowdfunding campaign, and you can also use it to run digital only campaigns to supplement your fundraising efforts. 

Social media campaign ideas can include a photo competition, a competition to have donors’ dogs feature in your next charity calendar, or a funny dog video competition. You can ask people for a very small fee to enter the competition all in the name of your charity. 

Building Community Support

The support of the local community around you will be key to your fundraising efforts. 

Involving Local Businesses

Can you work with businesses in your community to sponsor the shelter or to sponsor your events? Or can you ask them for key donations to boost your raffle prizes or online auction prizes? 

It’s important to be open to partnerships with local businesses and look for those that are related to your activities. Is there a dog groomer or a doggie day care in the local community that would consider a partnership and event sponsorship? Or even a doggie hotel close by that would be willing to offer free stays? 

While it’s great to tie in businesses in this way, you don’t necessarily want to limit yourself. You may find business owners in the community that aren’t in a related field but still have a love of dogs. When you’re running an event, invite local business owners down and engage them about the work you do and how sponsorship could have a big impact. You’ll need a great 30-second elevator pitch and must explain the key benefits that the business will get from sponsorship too. 

Engaging the Local Community

Aside from local businesses, you’ll also want the people in the local community to get behind your efforts. Consider inviting local schools down to meet the animals and to learn about the valuable work you do. You then may be able to work alongside the schools to run combined charity fundraising events or collaborate with the school on a fundraising drive with the children. Or are there any local charities you can partner with to run events and combine fundraising efforts? 

Is it possible to get the backing of local celebrities with a love for dogs too? You’ll need to research properly, choose wisely and engage with them tactically. But it is possible. 

Successful Fundraising Campaigns for Canine Charities

One dog rescue that has successfully engaged with celebrities is The Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter. It ran a Warm Paws fundraising campaign around the plight of the centre in the cost-of-living crisis and how it was struggling to pay energy bills to keep the pets warm. It was backed by notable celebrities in the North East including football legend Alan Shearer and drag star Miss Rory. Fundraising tactics included crowdfunding (with a heartfelt story to tell), online donations and social media competitions. To date the shelter has raised more than £100,000. 

In Cardiff, the council operated Cardiff Dogs Home has been able to raise more than £500,000 to refurbish its kennels. The campaign was run in conjunction with its charity arm, The Rescue Hotel, and was spearheaded by former Wales rugby captain Sam Warburton. 

Planning for Fundraising Success

Proper planning is key for fundraising success. You’ll need events on the horizon and ongoing fundraising initiatives running in the background. It makes sense to create a fundraising calendar detailing what is happening in each month, how much you’ll need to spend to make it happen and the potential funds that can be raised with each event. But you’ll also need to be adaptable and able to amend your strategy to consider current events – like the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter – or to take advantage of celebrity support, as with the Cardiff Dogs Home. 

You should also consider ongoing fundraising possibilities including easyfundraising. We give you a simple way for your supporters to donate money to you as they shop online. They can give money to you simply by shopping with any of our 7,500+ partner retailers, and it doesn’t cost them anything extra. It also doesn’t cost you to register your cause either. All you need to do is create your page and promote it to your supporters. Find out how easyfundraising can boost your charitable donations [LINK].