Just Starting Out

Dear Kim:

I volunteer with a small animal rescue here in Massachusetts. We are not a nonprofit yet. I am in charge of fundraising and don’t have a clue as to what I am doing. So far we have attended a parade for exposure, adoptions and begging. We have also put out donation jars in some stores. We did an adoption day at a pet food store, but did not solicit money then. I called a pizza place to get pizza donated that we could then sell, but we need to be nonprofit for them to help us. Any ideas would be great! Thanks so much.

~Meowing for Dollars


Dear Meowing,

Bless your heart for taking this on when this is not your area of knowledge! I would suggest spending some time on our website: www.grassrootsfundraising.org. There are free articles and advice for people just starting out in fundraising which will give you some structure for your fundraising.

Also, you should ask your local SPCA or other animal welfare organization near you for help. Perhaps one of them would be willing to act as your fiscal sponsor until you get your own nonprofit status, and they will be able to advise you on a fundraising plan.

My best advice is to use the expertise you have in placing stray animals into good homes in creating and implementing a fundraising plan. We all know much more about fundraising than we think, but our need for money sends us into a panic! For example:

  • Don’t try to sell pizza-animals don’t eat pizza (or shouldn’t, anyway). At your adoption sites, sell cat and dog food, toys, bedding, or sell coupons to get a discount at a pet food store on such items.
  • Ask the people adopting the animals to pay a small fee, and keep track of their names and addresses so you can appeal to them later.
  • Make a list of people like yourself who love animals and want to make sure they are all cared for and loved. Write or call them and tell them what you are up to, and ask them for a donation. This is much more systematic and much more likely to yield results.
  • Know exactly how much you need to raise, and by when, and for what. This will reassure everyone that you are on the up and up.
  • In the same way you would advise someone who already had ten cats not to adopt another one, consider not taking on any more animals until you have some more infrastructure in place.

Good luck in your important work!

~Kim Klein