how to help animal shelters

How To Help Shelters In Need

Running an animal rescue is hard work, and these organizations need help now more than ever! Here are some ways that you can help your local shelter keep the doors open and the kibble flowing.

Amazon Smile

One of the easiest ways to help your local animal rescue is by utilizing Amazon Smile. This is an Amazon program which charities must opt-in to, but once they do, they can receive a portion of your purchases! The best part is that this costs you absolutely nothing.

If you want to help but you don’t have much to give, Amazon Smile is a way you can still make an impact, especially if you do your regular shopping on Amazon. All you have to do is use the Amazon Smile site, or turn it on in your mobile app, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchases to the charity of your choice.

Amazon Smile lets you shop a rescue’s wish list and send items directly to them.

However, if you’d like to do more, then many animal charities also have wish lists of items they need! This could be food, treats, toys, bedding, cleaning supplies, etc. Just add it to your cart and check out. Amazon will send your donation straight to them, and you’ll know that they are getting something that they really need to care for their animals.

If they don’t have an Amazon Smile setup, you can volunteer your time to help them get more donations by helping set up their account!

Donate Directly To The Shelter

If you plan to donate directly, then it might be best to ask the animal rescue what they need. Many of them will have online wish lists, or even a drop off bin in your local pet store where you can leave the donations.

Food is not the only donation that these places need either! They often need other items just as much, but people do not think to donate them. Here are some ideas for items you might consider donating. Of course, cash is always appreciated too. Shelters have electric bills just like everybody else!

  • Dog & Cat Food
  • Dog & Cat Treats
  • Toys
  • Leashes & Collars
  • Grooming Supplies
  • Flea & Tick Treatments
  • Office Supplies
  • Meat Flavor Baby Food
  • Cat Scratch Pads
  • Greenies Pill Pockets
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Garbage bags
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Cat Litter
  • Paper Towels
  • Bleach
  • Blankets
  • Food Bowls
  • Litter Pans
  • Beds/Crate Pads
  • Pee Pads
  • Towels
  • Kongs
  • Crates & Carriers
  • Puppy/Kitten Formula
  • Sponges
  • Disinfectant Wipes

While gently used is okay for many items, such as towels, blankets, carriers, etc. Almost no shelters accept opened bags of food for the health of the animals. All food items should be new and sealed for donation.

Note: It’s always best to ask the specific charity what they need. Some of them do not accept every item, or they may need specific sizes or kinds. Asking first makes sure no donations go to waste.

Support Animal Charity Shops

Did you know that some animal shelters run their own thrift shops to raise funds for the shelter? You can help them out by doing some shopping there and picking up some stuff, or even by donating some stuff from your house.

Almost any shop will be happy to take clothes, toys, electronics, and smaller items, but if you plan to donate furniture, check to see how much room they have first. As much as they’d like to sell your sectional sofa set, most of these places just don’t have the room for those kinds of items.

Have A Yard Sale and Donate The Profits To The Shelter

Have some bigger stuff to get rid of? Or, maybe just a lot of stuff? Have you considered having a yard sale and donating a portion, or even all of the proceeds of the sale to the animal shelter?

Ways to help animal charities
Consider having a yard sale and donate the proceeds to the shelter.

Yard sales are easy to pull off in a weekend, and if you let your visitors know that all the proceeds are going to charity, they might take more stuff off your hands for you as well!

Donate Your Credit Card Points

Some credit card issuers, like American Express, allow you to donate points directly using a partner site, or their platform. Several airlines also allow you to donate your points directly as well!

If your credit card company does not allow this, then you could also see if you can redeem your points for gift cards which the shelter could use. A gift card to Amazon, Target, or Walmart could be used for food or cleaning supplies, and might be appreciated. Or, use the gift cards yourself and send them the goods directly.

Donate Your Time

If you don’t have much money to give, then you could always donate your time. Running a charity is a tough and not well-paying job. In many cases, these organizations rely on volunteers to help them get by.

how to help animal shelters
A donation of time can be very valuable, especially if you have skills shelters need.

Volunteers who can come in to feed, bathe, and walk dogs, or keep the shelter cleaned up are a welcome addition. However, if you have professional skills, they could be very happy to have your donation-of-self as well!

Some much needed professional skills could include things like taking professional photos of the animals for adoption, website management or design, social media management, legal help, or other services which the shelter otherwise could not afford with the budget they have to work with.

Host A Fund Raising Event

Do you enjoy acting as an event organizer? It’s easier than you think to organize a fund raiser for your favorite charity using services like GoFundMe.

If you’ve got the know-how and you can pull people into your event, you can make a meaningful donation to the shelter that they will really appreciate. Here are a few ideas!

  • Dog Treat Bake Sale

Bake sales are a fund-raising staple, but you can add a pup-tacular twist by selling homemade dog treats! Make sure everyone knows the proceeds go to the shelter and ask them to share on their social media.

  • Dog Wash Event

The car wash is yet another fund-raising favorite, but people need to wash their dogs as well. Setting up a dog washing charity outside your local pet store could help to raise money for the shelter.

  • Dog Walking Event

Schools everywhere put on walk-a-thon events, and you can get in on the action by including man’s best friend. This one will require some helpers to get it off the ground, but you could end up with a big donation if you have some dedicated participants going out and getting pledges.

  • Put Out Donation Stations At Local Businesses

You could also offer to put out and manage donation stations for your favorite shelter if they don’t have them already. Ask local businesses if you can put them on their counters and then come around and collect donations to drop off for your shelter friends.

Sponsor An Animal

If you can’t make a big donation, you might be able to make a smaller one on a regular basis. Lots of shelters allow recurring donations, or allow you to “sponsor an animal”.

If you sponsor a dog or cat, then you usually offer a small donation every month on a recurring basis that helps to pay for their care. Some animals stay at the shelter for years before getting adopted, and some others may never be adopted due to medical or behavioral issues.

A sponsorship or recurring donation helps to make sure that these animals are well cared for even if they have to stay at the shelter for a long time.

Foster An Animal

Not all animals that come to the shelter are ready for adoption right away. Some of them need a little time before they are ready to be sent home with their new family, and that’s where foster pet parents come in.

Foster dogs need a little help getting ready for new families, and you can help them.

The shelter generally provides all food, care supplies, and medical care for the animal, and the foster provides the time and attention that the animal needs.

Each shelter has different requirements for this, and you’ll need to apply to be considered. If you don’t have much experience with animals, then you may want to consider becoming a shelter volunteer first to learn and prepare to take care of a foster animal.

Some foster pet parents end up adopting their foster, but not always.