Fundraising Event Ideas For Animal Rescues & Shelters.

Fundraising events are not only good for getting much needed donations, but for building loyalty and connections with your supporters. Engaging in events is a fun way for your supporters to get involved while helping you achieve your fundraising goals. From something simple like a chess tournament to something more elaborate like a wine tasting event – there are options for every animal rescue or shelter that is looking to add events to their annual fundraising calendar!

Paw Print Posies / Paint With Pooches

Dog Paw Print FundraiserThis idea was originally done by a woman named Rosemary who we could not find a website for! We have seen this idea in social media and thought it was a must add to our list!

You can either host a specific event around this or have it be a part of another event. Find a local artist who would be willing to donate their time and split any earnings with your group. The concept of this fundraiser is to charge a fee for a painting that is done onsite. Pet owners would dip their pets paws in nontoxic paint to create the paw prints and then the artist would add in the flowers.

It would be an additional way to earn funds if you can get a local store to donate some frames and/or mats as well!

Dog Wash

Because no one likes a stinky dog – there are Dog Wash Fundraisers – they leave your dog squeaky clean and give your rescue a much needed donation boost.

Dog Wash FundraiserTo keep costs down you can see if a local groomer, whether in a stand-alone location or mobile, can offer their services at no charge or a discounted rate for your event. It is important to find out too if your volunteers can take part in the grooming though! The point of this is to team build, so you want to make sure the groomer does allow you access to what you need to make these dogs look their best!

If you cannot find a groomer to work with you, that is OK! You can find a public location and bring your own supplies to make this work. Just be sure to check the rules where you plan on having it.

This is a great start to what can be a big day for your event! Think about having a few vendors there so while people are waiting for their turn they have items to look at – you can either charge the vendors a flat rate to take part or take a percentage of sales. You can also combine a bake sale or raffle as well!

Spirit Tasting Event

People love fine spirits and by offering a spirit showcase you can not only build a great sense of community and gain new support for your rescue – but you have an opportunity to raise a lot of money! Work with local distilleries to create the event and invite more national brands to take part as well. This will be a win win for both the animal group and the brands that attend. Another additional opportunity is to reach out to local restaurants to take part so they can showcase their brands as well.

Guests will pay a fee to attend the event which will allow them access to all of the find foods and spirits that are presented!

Although the work to create an event of this nature is large – the results can be substantial in terms of new supporters as well as money raised.

Success Story: Over 58K raised for the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire. You can learn more about their 2016 event, the Distiller’s Showcase here.

Battle of the Bands

Bring on the fun and offer a real community based event like a Battle of the Bands! A fun and unique way to raise funds that will leave your supporters with something to really remember!

Here are some tips to creating a successful Battle of the Bands fundraising event for your animal rescue! If done well this can be a low cost event to put together with a high return!

Try to secure a space that is rent free. See if you can secure a parking lot or park area that can be donated for a great cause!
Put out a call on social media and around town for bands and musicians to participate – we guarantee they will jump at the chance!
Of course you will need judges! See if there is a local music school or a music teacher that would donate their time – if you are really connected, then how about the mayor?
Prizes for the winners – of course they should receive something – this is a great time to see if some local businesses would like to get involved and donate prizes in return for some mentions and advertising opportunities. A fantastic prize of course would be time in a real recording studio if you can pull it off!
Try to get local food vendors to participate to provide snacks and beverages. Ask if they would be willing to donate a portion of all sales to your group!
To make additional money for your group – you can charge a fee for entrance to the event – maybe $10 or $20 a ticket, sell custom t-shirts made just for the event with all the entrants names and sponsors on it or even ask the artists if they would like to sell their CD’s or products where a portion gets donated.

Success Story: Over 12K raised for the Chicago Fire Department with their Rock the Badges battle of the bands event!

Raise the Woof

Raise the Woof offers a funny and inspiring way to raise funds! They offer a comedy event and work specifically with animal shelters and rescues to do fundraising events. Comedian, James Uloth has raised over $800,000 fro various charities and has over 10 years of experience.

When working in animal rescue – who doesn’t need a good laugh?

To learn more or schedule a show for your group, visit Raise the Woof.

Rubber Duck Races

Yes, really – rubber duck races just scream family fun and kids LOVE them! Ok, parents do too, but they probably won’t admit it — so take advantage of this opportunity to create fun event that the whole family can enjoy and will allow you to raise funds in a really fun way.

This is an event that can either be the focal point or an addition to another event like a dog walk. Ducks can be sold for a set amount (I know I have paid $10 in one we participate in locally). The family buys a duck (or several), you provide the buyer the number of their duck as written on the bottom of the duck (make sure you use waterproof pens!) — and you can also put their name and duck number on a list as well ensuring it is tracked properly.
The ducks are available online for a very low cost – or see if you can have a sponsor purchase them for your group.
It is best to put the numbers on the top of the ducks where everyone can see them – watch the families on the sideline squeal and scream for their duck to win!
This race is best done in a creek or lake for the most fun and excitement – but if those are not an option a pool can also be used as long as you can create a current for the ducks to move. Set a certain amount of winners – 1st place, 2nd place etc and the first duck to cross the line wins!
Make sure permits are applied for if you are doing this event in a park!
Find local sponsors who are willing to donate prizes to the winners. The better the prizes, the more ducks you can sell and the bigger social media sharing you can get!
Is there a local celebrity who can emcee the event?
A v-shaped finish line may work best as it will designate a clear winner. Be sure to have staff at the finish line to pull the ducks in the order they finish so it is clear who won!
Additional opportunities to raise money include raffling off prizes donated by businesses, sell food and drinks or even advertising!

Success Story: EXPAND duck race, a Boulder, CO event to help people with disabilities sold 3,500 rubber duckies at a cost of $5 each in their last event – which was actually down from prior years. They have been hosting rubber ducky races for 27 years!
Board Game or Chess Tournament

Another low cost event that can be fun and build a sense of community! A board game or chess tournament is a fun way to get people together for a great cause and is a fun night out for the family!

Have teams or individuals sign up to participate and charge a flat fee to be a part of the tournament or charge a fee per game
Be sure to have adult games as well as kid games so they can take part too!
Have a time limit for each game to keep things running smoothly.
Find a location – preferably a location that will offer their space at no cost.
Have a bake sale in conjunction with this event for an additional revenue stream.
Have sponsors offer prizes to the tournament winners.
You can also offer raffles for other donated prizes as well.


A Bowl-A-Thon is a another fun family based event that can become a great fundraiser for any rescue, especially if done on a yearly basis which will allow it to grow. To view an example of a Bowl-A-Thon that in its 9th year raised over $45K – then click here.

Teach A Class / Host Workshop

Most rescues are filled with volunteers that have unique skills! Tap into your group and see what special talents your volunteers may have that you can use to host a class or workshop. Maybe there is a skilled photographer or a painter that can talk about their craft and teach others. A web designer can help teach people basic computer skills – the options are limitless See if your shelter or local library can offer some space and charge a nominal fee for attendance.


If you live within distance from a vineyard, then try a wine auction! Secure donations that are relevant to the wine lover and enjoy a great day of wine tasting and creating connections with fellow animal lovers. In 2014, Jameson Rescue Ranch raised over $400K with their Wine-A-Palooza event.

Prison Break

This works best in towns where there is a local celebrity so to speak as it makes fans want to get involved and take part in the drama! “Arrest” a local celebrity – maybe a favorite athlete, DJ or even a school principal and throw them behind bars! In order for this person to “get out of jail” the community must band together to raise the bond – which then is donated to the group organizing the jail break! This could be a super fun way to not only raise funds, but build a sense of community and loyalty to your group. This is definitely a great press opportunity as well.

Balloon Bust

This is a great idea if you are going to be at a street fair or carnival with your rescue group. Fill balloons with tickets that may have prizes. So if you want to raffle of 5 items, you can fill say 100 balloons with tickets and 5 of them will have the winning tickets. Recommend a “minimum” donation fee to get a balloon – this is a fun and unique way to raise much needed fun!

Cook Off

Have some cooking fanatics in your town? Organize a cook-off! Let amateur or professional chefs use their skills for the good of the animals and let them prepare their favorite foods. The community can get involved by being taste testers, they can then donate an amount to the chef with the best food. The chef with the most donations at the end of the event is the winner – and of course the rescue wins with the donations it receives.

Dating Auction

Get your volunteers out there! Auction them off for a “date” with the highest bidder! Dates with local celebrities can be a gold for donations!

Shoe Drive

A shoe collection drive can help raise funds based on the weight of the shoes collected. Read this article about how Saving Grace Animal Rescue successfully raised about $1,800 with their shoe drive.

Funds2orgs is a group that can help rescues run their shoe campaigns.

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