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Free Resources & Money Saving Ideas for Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups

Updated on May 2, 2014

The following is a list of ideas and resources available to aid directors and founders.

Social Media & Online Ideas

If you're not using social media, you're losing out on potential adopters, foster families and donations.

  • Create a Facebook page for your shelter/rescue and fill out the "About" page in it's entirety. People want to know your 501(c) status, your physical address, your website, your mission and a brief story behind how your got started.
  1. Add a "Donate" button. This encourages Paypal donations. Make sure your button is the first or second icon under your cover photo so donors can find it easily. Step-by Step Tutorial here for installing a donate button.
  2. Create an Amazon Wish List and add that to your page. Items are sent directly to you.
  3. Add an "Events" button to ensure your followers are aware of any upcoming fundraisers.
  • Join Pinterest (an online cork board) to pin up animal related articles, how-to projects and homemade biscuit recipes!
  • Twitter allows millions of users to send and receive text messages. Use it to update everyone on your newest arrivals or your latest adoptions!
  • The Social Animal is a great website dedicated to helping animal advocates get the most out of social media.


  • Make an album of "Adoptable Animals". Keep it current, list all information within each animal description along with a link to your adoption application. It's also helpful to have one or two admin in charge of monitoring the album for questions and comments.
  • Remind donors that their employers may match their donations. Many companies have a Matching Contribution program. Doublethedonation is a for-profit business that helps non-profits find more money in this area. Popular companies that match are: AT&T, Verizon, Kraft, McDonalds, Chase and Bank of America.
  • When using Facebook, do not reply to each comment individually as it skews the comments and makes following the thread far too frustrating and time consuming! Simply comment after the last comment posted to answer any questions. This enables the thread to remain in chronological order and is easier for friends to scan the thread looking for your posts.
  • Keep your rescue/shelter social media separate from your personal pages. It's always nice to add a personal touch to your postings; however, it's best for everyone involved to keep your animal-related accounts devoted solely to that subject.

Free and Low Cost Online Services

  • Volunteer Match offers a free basic account. It connects opportunities within your shelter to volunteers in your area. Animal Shelter Volunteer is the most searched for opportunity on their site.
  • Animal Shelter Manager is a free software program.
  • Pet Pal Manager is a $25.00 a year software program.
  • provides a plethora of free & low cost options-websites, data management, voice mail, email-all to keep your shelter running smoothly.
  • Open Office is a great free alternative to Microsoft Word for everyone.

Free Online Fundraising Ideas

  • Funding Factory is a free recycling resource for non profits. This is a great reason to recycle ink cartridges for cash.
  • eBay's Giving Works is eBay's charity program. Simply register your non profit and sellers may choose your organization as their designated charity. There's no selling and no cost to you. The Blind Cat Sanctuary in North Carolina has great success with eBay.
  • Goodsearch is a great online tool. People sign up under your charity and goodsearch pays you a penny for every search. There's also gooddining and goodshop which pays you a percentage of sales!
  • Kroger Cares Program is a great way to earn cash. Your organization signs up with the program. Your supporters purchase special gift cards through your site. They will use this special gift card each time they check out and reload when empty. The customer gets the full amount loaded and your organization gets 4% of the purchases. The Brown Dog Foundation has a simple explanation on their website of how it works.
  • BarkBox is a monthly goodie box for your canine companion. They also donate a portion of sales to local rescues. If you'd like to be a part of their donation program, simply fill out the form on their website.
  • USBones is an online retailer of pet products. This company allows it's consumers to choose an animal organization and it will donate a percentage of each purchase to that charity. It's easy and convenient for both the NPO and the customer!
  • Chipotle Restaurants- Chiptole offers fundraising opportunities for their communities. Simply apply for a fundraising day and a portion of their profits will be donated to your cause when patrons use a promotional flyer with their purchases.
  • Jez Water- This company's tag line is "Water on a Mission" and their mission is animal rescue! Interested rescue organizations can find out more about their company by following them on Facebook or going to their website.

Products & Programs

  • Purina Weight Circle program is great for saving money on food. While the program is not offered to organizations, it is offered to individuals. Simply ask supporters who purchase Purina products to clip the weight circle from the bag and send to you. Fill out the form and submit to Purina. Each circle is worth a certain number of points and for every 600 points, you'll receive a $6.00 coupon check toward a bag of Purina food.
  • Kong brand dog toys extends offers non-profit organizations to purchase their "less than perfect" products at a significant discount.
  • Rescue Bank is a nation wide pet food distribution program for shelters and non profits.
  • Kuranda brand pet beds offers a discount to customers wanting to donate a bed to a shelter. Simply register your shelter with Kuranda so that your shelter could be chosen as a donation destination!

Offer Knowledge to Pet Owners

You may reduce the number of intakes by keeping current on services or programs that aid pet owners. Here are some options to offer in lieu of accepting another owner surrender.

Financial Assistance for medical treatment and low-cost spay & neuter clinics

Pet Friendly Living

Behavioral Issues

Community Involvement

It really does takes a village to help orphaned animals so why not reach out to your community to alleviate the burden? Involve as many people and places as possible!

  • Prison Programs- Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan has been taking part with this unique fostering program since 2008. Team Greyhound Adoptions of OH started in 2001 by utilizing prisons as a training/foster resource. Partnering with local prisons certainly lessens the burden of finding more foster families.
  • Classroom reading programs- Woofs and Books helps children learn to read. The dogs are all ears as they sit and listen to struggling young readers who love reading to such a patient and lovable audience. A great way to incorporate a shelter dog into a child's life.
  • Advertise for a creative genius and open a Zazzle store for your rescue or shelter. Zazzle offers free stores to people who want to create items such as t-shirts without the overhead of inventory. You create it, they produce it and you both make money!
  • Microchipping Event- Reach out to your local auto dealership and ask them to sponsor a microchipping event! This is a great advertising tool while driving traffic to the business site. It also ensures that more pets will be chipped with the possibility of reuniting a stray intake with it's owner.
  • K-9 Officers- More departments are realizing that a great K-9 officer doesn't have to be breeder purchased. Sgt. Harry Wheeler is proof that rescued dogs have a great sense of duty! Why not check with your local law enforcement agency and turn a pooch into a patrolman?
  • Pets Healing Vets offers a shelter animal to a military veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The pet and it's training are free to Indiana veterans. Why not start a pets & vets in your community? After all, the business of saving lives is what directors and founders do everyday---might as well save two while you're at it!
  • Clothes Hounds can clean out their closets for good! If you have a local consignment store, drop off your clothes and ask that the proceeds be sent to your local animal shelter or 501(c) non-profit organization. Selective Seconds Resale Shop in Indianapolis has a fundraising program for those who want to give to their favorite cause without spending any money to do so.


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    • Pages-By-Patty profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Midwest

      Hi We Save Cats~

      Thanks so much for your input! I'm sure your friend, Kathy, is "the one & only" Kathy with Lucky Cats! I don't know how you and she do all you do for our feline friends...truly amazing!

      Hope these tips help your organization. Hopefully, you could apply for some grants, too. The ASCPA one is a great one to start with for spaying & neutering.

      Again, thanks so much for stopping by and wishing you continued success with Lucky Cats!

    • We Save Cats profile image

      We Save Cats 

      5 years ago from SE Kansas

      Great article pages! My friend Kathy and I have set up a number of your suggestions and have included more from your hub. This is a good tool for groups. Thank you.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for encouraging folks to use social media to help place all those pets that need good homes!


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