How to Get Funding for an Animal Sanctuary

Funding an animal sanctuary may seem like an impossible task, but there are many avenues to consider. Non-profit work has limits in how to raise funds, but with the right level of creativity and effort, your sanctuary will meet every financial goal.

To get funding for an animal sanctuary:

  • Determine your needs
  • Establish your donor’s motivation
  • Make the request specific
  • Choose the right mix of fundraising outlets

No one likes asking for funds, but this is the nature of running an animal sanctuary. With the guidance of this article, you should have plenty of options and advice to move forward on your funding endeavors.

Before You Start Raising Funds for an Animal Sanctuary 

Before you ask for a dime of money, do the work needed to establish your funding request. This includes figuring out how much you need as well as creating a request that donors will respond to.

Determine Your Needs

Before you pursue fund raising, make sure you have an established budget that you can lean back on. This allows you to determine accurate costs of things like:

How to Get Funding for an Animal Sanctuary
  • Utilities
  • Animal care items
  • Food
  • Maintenance
  • Services
  • Materials

Get an estimate for any major renovations or plans you have so there is a set goal, or determine how much you want to raise to cover potential emergencies in the future.

Make sure you keep up with your budget so you can determine what works well and where most of your costs lie. This can help you identify patterns in fiscal needs for the future as well.

Establish Donor Motivation

You need to know why someone would consider donating to you. Answer questions such as:

  • What services you provide
  • What needs you meet
  • Your mission and values

Before anyone contributes to your funding request, you need to kick off a relationship with them. This motivation urges them to become a part of the solution you offer, and encourages them to support the things that matter.

Make it Specific

It is easier to get funding if you have a specific use for the money. Look for exact needs that you can showcase, as well as exact amounts.

People like to know exactly what their money is going toward, and they are more likely to write that check for time sensitive or specific initiatives.

If your request is more general, they get less of a reward from donating. They may choose to put off funding your animal sanctuary until there is a specific goal they can support.

Recurring Funds for an Animal Sanctuary

Recurring donations are the easiest way to gather money you can count on. If you can find a donor willing to contribute on a regular basis, even just $5, that’s less work you need to do for routine costs.

Acknowledging Previous Donations

If someone donates a gift of $250 or more, the IRS requires you to provide a formal acknowledgement letter. This allows them to document their gift for tax purposes, and it should include:

  • The name of the donor
  • The full legal name of your organization
  • Declaration of your organization’s tax exempt status
  • Your employer identification number (EIN)
  • Date of the donation
  • Description of the gift and the funds received
  • Goods or services you provided in exchange for the donation

Even if someone offers less than $250, it’s good practice to thank them within 48 hours. This lets them know that you appreciate their contribution, regardless of its size, and they will be more likely to donate in the future.


Because people love to have a specific opportunity for their funds to grow a sanctuary, you can set up a sponsorship program. This is a rewarding experience that allows donors to make recurring contributions to the success of a specific animal in your sanctuary, and in exchange you provide bonuses such as:

  • Special updates
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Visits

This allows your donors to create an emotional relationship with your animal sanctuary and become more invested in your success.

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Recurring Donations

Give donors the option to set up a recurring donation. This lets them continue to fund your animal sanctuary on a regular basis without either party initiating the request.

Recurring donations give you a better idea of what sort of funds you should expect in the future, but keep in mind that they can be canceled at any time.

Using CRM Tools

How to Get Funding for an Animal Sanctuary

Customer relationship management tools allow you to keep track of donors and supporters, and they save you time by:

  • Listing and sorting those who have contributed in the past
  • Tracking patterns in donations
  • Determining who is likely to help
  • Tracking your relationship with the donor

This can be as simple as a spreadsheet, or you can purchase specialized software to streamline the process.

CRM tools increase your chances of success when getting funds for an animal sanctuary.

In-House Funding Opportunities

Setting up funding spaces in your animal sanctuary reminds individuals that you don’t operate on awe alone. They can see the fruit of their funding in person, and you don’t need to worry about setting up elaborate events.

Donations Jars

Donation jars have a lot of bonuses. They have a visual presence that prompts donors to provide funds in that moment, even if it’s just the change in their pocket. They also work well with cash and checks, and you can put them:

  • Near entrances and exits
  • At desks or counters
  • Anywhere someone may have money out (gift shops)

Donation jars are not great for tracking information, but you can try setting up envelopes for people to fill out next to them.


Apparel works well to raise funds for your animal sanctuary, and stickers or keychains can also help bring recognition to your cause.

People are more likely to spend money if they believe the money goes to a good cause, and they enjoy the tangible benefit of merchandise to remind them of their contribution. 

If you choose to create merchandise, work with high quality vendors and designers, and make sure you focus on ethical materials and creation methods. You should also do research to ensure the cost of production is low enough to have a decent profit margin to fund your endeavors.


Fundraising events are a major opportunity for your animal sanctuary to raise money. Some specific examples include:

  • Annual major fundraisers
  • Holiday or seasonal events
  • Guest speakers
  • Benefit runs
  • Workshops
  • Bake or craft sales
  • Camps
  • Yard sales

While each of these has a generic template of what you should offer, do your best to exhibit creativity to make the event memorable. Network to keep costs low, and set a goal for each event.

Make sure attendees understand what their money is going for.

Community Funding for an Animal Sanctuary

You don’t need to do it all alone. Allow your community to do some of the work for you, and don’t underestimate the long-term benefits of local networking.

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Donation Jars at Local Businesses

You can set up donation jars at willing local establishments, such as:

  • Groceries stores
  • Small businesses
  • Restaurants

Leave a picture and a pamphlet so customers can get a feel for your animal sanctuary, and make sure you have a set plan to pick up these donations regularly.

Donation jars can catch people’s change and show customers that the business cares for the community.

Off-Site Fundraising

Check into events like farmer’s markets or festivals where you can set up a table to raise funds for your animal sanctuary.

While you cannot bring animals to most of these events, you should be prepared with:

  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Merchandise
  • Testimonies

Keep a donation box displayed in a prominent location, but don’t ignore the networking benefit of these events. Set up a method for gathering contact information like phone numbers or emails.

Get Funding Online for an Animal Sanctuary

Most of the population spends a good portion of their day online. By setting up campaigns through social media or other resources, people can donate with just a few taps.

Social Media

How to Get Funding for an Animal Sanctuary

Social media sites are great because they:

  • Establish a relationship with your donors
  • Have fundraising tools built in
  • Allow donors to share your projects

Make sure you aren’t spamming your page with requests, and try to keep funding projects specific. Use impactful photos and use your social media page to update past projects.


Use websites like GoFundMe to create crowdfunding campaigns for major projects and emergencies.

These work well because they:

  • Use trusted sites to handle the money
  • Show donors the goal and where you sit
  • Are easy to share on social media and through messaging services

Pay attention to the fees each crowdfunding site charges. They deduct these from the donations, and some can be as costly as 10 percent of the funds.

Corporate Support for an Animal Sanctuary

Local and even large scale businesses love to invest in community projects like animal sanctuaries, especially if you can prove how the relationship benefits them.

Regardless of whether this is a one time donation or permanent funding relationship, corporate support tends to benefit both parties. In many cases, you accept the funds in exchange for posting the name or logo:

  • At events
  • On merchandise
  • On structures or exhibits

You may even name exhibits after the business.

Businesses can also fund your animal sanctuary by vowing a percentage of proceeds from certain items to donate.

Grants for Animal Sanctuaries

Grants are more difficult to obtain, but they may provide larger sums that help you achieve your goals. You need to search often for opportunities that meet your needs and situation.

While larger operations offer better funding, local grants are easier to get and you have better luck qualifying.

Some places to check include:

Make sure you fit your request to what the grant offers. Terminology is important, and hiring a grant writer can improve your chances of success.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How do item donations help fund animal sanctuaries?

The donation of items (also known as in-kind items) can help an animal sanctuary by reducing the need to purchase that specific item. You can then allocate funds to other needs, sell certain items (such as donated cars), or trade them to other non-profits for items you can use.

Does volunteer work help fund an animal sanctuary?

Volunteer work can help fund an animal sanctuary in the same way. Instead of needing to pay someone to do the work, volunteers offer their services for free (and often are not rewarded with tax deductions for it).

Volunteer work can also fund an animal sanctuary by compounding on fundraising efforts. The more volunteers you have at events, the greater the likelihood of the event’s success and the more equipped you are to garner donations.

Which method of raising funds for an animal sanctuary works best?

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Instead, it is best to try out a mix of methods to get funding for an animal sanctuary and evaluate which ones work best for you. The best method varies depending on your strengths and weaknesses, and you should never rely on one method for funding.

To learn more on how to plan your own animal sanctuary business click here!

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.