Donating to Your Local Animal Shelter: A Beginner’s Guide


As with any nonprofit organization, animal shelters rely heavily on charitable donations and volunteers to service the animals in their care.

Here are some of the best ways to help your local shelter.


Donate Your Time and Skills

You may be surprised when you learn which tasks need to be completed at the shelter on a weekly basis. Most duties don’t require any kind of veterinary skill, but there is often a lack of staff to do everything. This is why shelters depend on their loyal volunteers.

If you have a love of animals, that is the first step to being a great volunteer. Routine cleaning duties and pet care can often be taught to volunteers with no prior experience. If you have special skills, such as marketing, event planning, photography, computer knowledge, or building maintenance, those skills can sometimes be utilized by the shelter in creative ways.

For example, an electrician can volunteer his time to do routine maintenance around the shelter. Someone with social media or website design experience could help the staff with online updates. The options are endless when you’re willing to volunteer your unique expertise.


Cash is King

Monetary donations are often the best way to give back. Shelter staff can then use the money to buy necessary items and pay bills to keep the shelter running.

If you’re unable to donate your own cash, there are still ways to raise funds for the shelter. You could hold an event where all proceeds are donated. Another great option is to ask for any birthday or holiday presents to be replaced with donations to the shelter.


Open Your Home to Pets in Need

A shelter only has so much space for the animals they care for. When all their beds are full, they have no choice but to turn away animals in need. This is why foster parents are such a great resource for the shelters.

People who foster animals are allowing the pets to enter their home on a temporary basis. Usually, the animals chosen for a shelter’s foster program are those who aren’t doing well in the shelter environment. There are certain qualifications a volunteer must meet in order to foster a pet, so it’s best to check with your local shelter to see if you are eligible to foster any of their animals.


Do No Harm

While you may have the best intentions when donating to a shelter, it wastes time, resources and storage space if they’re handed an abundance of items they can’t use.

It’s always best to consult the shelter’s wish list before donating. Some of the items on the list may surprise you. For example, office supplies, medicine, towels and cleaning supplies are often some of the most needed items, but this always varies by shelter.