Recently a reader came in with a question, how to convince people to give to animal charities?
It is sometimes difficult raising money for animals , especially in the south. People say ” I only give to people charities” I tell them that pet overpopulation, euthanasia because there are too many animals with no homes, strays, free roaming, biting dogs, feral cats- all that is a people problem. After all- when I get that phone call for help, it is always a person on the line asking for help with their particular problem. I never got a phone call from a cat or a dog. Hmmmm………
Thanks for asking about how to fundraise for pets. When I worked at a shelter in the pacific northwest, I processed gifts for a LOT of people who would rather give to pets than to people. Of course, giving to pets IS giving to people, as you so succinctly put above.
At this humane society, a lot of people wouldn’t give to us because we were a kill shelter. What they would do is give to the no kill shelter, who would ship their pets to us to be killed. It was a sick situation. I hated knowing that we were killing animals, as well as spaying and neutering, while doing a public service, and being vilified for it. If it weren’t for us, how many animals would be abused, or die in terrible pain from starvation or disease? How many local children would have been bitten? But sometimes people don’t research where the pets go after they come to a shelter.
So, how to agitate for money for pets? Start by big cute pictures of the pets. Dogs and cats. Most humane societies have this down. People can’t resist a sweet puppy or adorable kitten. But don’t stop there. Highlight different pets on your website, tell their stories, help people understand how they can help, even if they can’t adopt. Wherever they are on your site, they should have 4 options for how to get involved. Donate button, adopt button, newsletter signup, and volunteer button.
Education is key, so make sure that you’re out in front of the petstore every weekend, handing out leaflets about your shelter. Give people a chance to donate right there, or sign up for your newsletter, or volunteer.
You should also be making the rounds at the local high school, junior high and elementary schools about how to treat your pet. See if you can partner with a local domestic violence shelter to combine forces and talk about human relationships and animal relationships, and how it’s important to show respect and caring with all living creatures. Cite statistics that show that cruelty to pets leads to cruelty to people.
You can also partner with local veterinary clinics, pet boarding services, grooming centers, local parks, etc. to offer education clinics, and go to festivals to talk with people about how to treat their pets, and why pet issues are human issues.
Finally, I would make the case by saying, “We are speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Ask them if you would ask a baby to speak up for itself if it was being abused by parents. Ask if you would tell a person who was mentally handicapped to speak up for themselves. If it’s cruelty that you oppose and dignity that you promote, show how these values are universal. The more you get in front of people and teach them about the beauty of being a pet owner, and the sadness of an abused pet, the more money you will get. It’s all about asking, all the time.
As an aside, spay and neuter is necessary, and well and good, but we need to make sweeping legislative changes for animal rights. Specifically, I will hop on my big box for a minute and say, “What REALLY needs to happen is to publicly shame, penalize, regulate, and make massive fines for animal mills and animal breeders to continue their business. When it is too much of a hassle, or no longer profitable for them to breed animals, they will find another industry. Much like child prostitution in Thailand, when it’s no longer lucrative, the traffickers will sell something else.” On a purely transactional level, this can make an enormous difference in the lives of animals.
And sadly, our executive director at the time would NEVER push on the legislative level to attack breeders. He didn’t last long. Happily, there is a bill in the house in Texas now to legislate puppy mills and make them conform to stricter regulations.
When you start to agitate on a governmental level for the rights of the voiceless, you’ll find that you can get a lot more press, and more awareness of your mission.
Do you have a tip for fundraising for pets or spay and neuter? Please leave a comment below!