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January 13, 2021 10 min read

One reason I started Paws For Giving was because I wanted to find a way to help Aussie animal rescues, animal shelters and animal sanctuaries, and the hoomans who work tirelessly to support them.

Animal welfare organisations come in many shapes and sizes. Many animal lovers don’t realise that sheltering, rescuing and rehoming pets is only one facet of their work, and for that matter, only a facet of work for some animal welfare organisations. One thing that many people are not aware of, that a lot of animal welfare organisations do have in common, is a strong focus on community education.

Offering advice on responsible pet ownership and wildlife care or rehabilitation, highlighting the importance of desexing, providing access to services and resources for underprivileged pet owners and advocating for initiatives to improve wildlife habitats are all some of the regular activities animal rescues, sanctuaries and shelters undertake as part of their day to day.

Then there are the animal welfare organisations that are  missed by the general umbrella of ‘rescue, shelter or sanctuary’. Some of these organisations are mostly focused on advocacy and education; taking on animal cruelty by lobbying the government or providing support in animal related court cases.

And the costs of all this quickly adds up. Equipment, supplies, veterinary services... and on it goes!

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you want to find ways to support animal rescues, shelters and sanctuaries too. But with busy lives and always another bill around the corner, it can sometimes feel difficult to know how to best support these charities whilst juggling your own responsibilities.

I understand this on a deeply personal level. At the start of 2020, the idea of donating money to a cause was simply not an option. I was under a lot of financial pressure, just like many have people faced in 2020, and the last thing I was able to do was open my wallet to charity. A feeling so many of us face.

With Paws for Giving growing into a new stage of its life, I’ve been putting some thought into this exact problem. As much as we love animals and the amazing organisations that support them, the problem can feel too big to tackle. It’s so easy to end up frozen with inaction, feeling that there are no options. Mulling this over, I experienced a bit of a light bulb moment - why not create a list of ways to 'donate' that don’t cost the earth?

There are so many inexpensive ways to show our support and solidarity. So here are a few ideas on how to donate to or support wildlife, cat and dog rescues that are easy, cheap or completely free! 

1. Donate Your Time By Helping With Basic Pet Rescue Needs

Offering your time can be an amazing way to help an animal welfare organisation. Even if it’s just a few hours on an evening or weekend, it could make a real difference to, for example, your local dog rescue pups and humans! Whether it’s help with cleaning, playtime or taking the dogs out for a walk - there are so many little ways you can lighten the load for your local shelter. Plus if you can offer the dogs some TLC, the pups are more likely to be calm and approachable, helping them to attract a fur-ever home.

Just call your local rescue and ask them if they need anyone to donate time for enrichment, walking or playing. Better yet, take a friend or two with you and make an event of it. You’ll be bringing more resources into the rescue, and maybe you will have found a brand new way to socialise with mates that doesn’t break the bank. Not to mention the adorable furry cuddles! 

2. Donate Things That You Own But Don't Need Anymore To Animal Shelters

Shelters are frequently in need of items you might not expect. Whether it’s to support humans or animals, here’s a list of items you could offer to donate:

  • Tinned or dry cat and kitten food - dog food tends to be the most donated product with feline foods forgotten!
  • Meaty or fishy treats (pet approved of course).
  • Crates, blankets and beds.
  • Grooming supplies.
  • New and old toys (tennis balls, frisbees, flickers - just make sure the old toys are still in decent condition). 
  • Collars, leads and harnesses. 
  • Dog and cat coats and pyjamas, and thundershirts (for those anxious pups).
  • Hats and sunglasses for the dog walkers.
  • Newspapers, puppy pads, kitty litter or poop bags.
  • Cleaning supplies. 
  • Clickers or dog whistles.
  • General office supplies.
  • Well-kept old furniture you don’t need anymore. 

In another of our articles 'Where do our Donations to Animal Rescues Actually Go' we list a range of resources that are worth checking out that help distribute item donations and supplies.

And if you are thinking about donating your own supplies, it’s always wise to check with the rescue before donating, as some shelters have wish lists of what they really need. So contact them first and find out what's in short supply. This way, you can make sure your donation is really going to really make a difference.

3. Donate Your Set Of Super Skills To Your Local Animal Rescue

You are a person with a very special set of skills… whatever they might be! And you can use this unique skill set to contribute in new and unexpected ways. 

  • Pretty Crafty? A little fabric and a little imagination to bring much-needed fun into the lives of local shelter and rescue pets. There are all sorts of Youtube tutorials for homemade pet toys or even a pair of fancy cat curtains!
  • DIY Whizz?Offering to repair and improve shelters will be a godsend. Anything from renovating parts of a facility to building a new cat tree could be greatly appreciated.
  • Legal Eagle?Lend your knowledge and skills for some pro-bone-o! Help shelters stay on top of legal forms, contracts, copyright - whatever they might need.
  • Crunch Numbers? If you have accounting skills, shelters often need an extra hand. Help them keep organised with payments, donations and grants - as well as balancing all those animal expenses.
  • Tech Wizard?Shelters are constantly having to update their websites as animals come and go. Help them keep on top of promoting events information, donation information, blogs and posting on social media!
  • Wordsmith?Shelters need a Shakespeare (of sorts). They’ve got adoption profiles, newsletters, ads, grant applications and much more to craft. If you are nifty with a sentence or two it could make all the difference to helping a furry friend find their furever home.
  • Photo Fanatic? If you can capture a pooch’s best side, this can really help. High-quality photos for adoption profiles can help to show off a pet’s personality, which as a result can support them to find a loving home that’s right for them.

4. Setup And Run Your Own Fundraiser For A Dog Shelter

Fundraising is always a fantastic way to donate. You could challenge yourself to a walkathon, 5k or even a marathon. Or if you’d rather get social, host a bake sale, quiz night or 50/50 raffle - where half the money is won and half donated. Improve your fitness, have a great night of fun or both, all whilst supporting the shelters and their vital work.

Short on the time to put together something elaborate? Thankfully there are super easy ways to fundraise. Did you know you can ask for donations to a cause directly through a Facebook post? Meaning your friends can show their support in a super quick and easy way. If you can find a business to match the donation too!

Or if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, offer to do something meaningful or provide a service in exchange for donations. How about: 

  • A camera-phone owner-pet photoshoot.
  • Put together a calendar of your friend’s fur-families. They can buy it for a bit over the cost price with the extra funds donated.
  • Every donation = 1 walk for a shelter pup.
  • Create a video of the rescue centre for your donors to see, with a thank you for every sponsor in the credits.

5. Foster A Pet And Let A Furball Or Two Into Your Home And Heart

Shelters can be tough on most furry friends. It can be an especially stressful environment for the more sensitive animals, and not a place they can easily recover and thrive in. Plus, rescues want to help as many animals as they can, which almost always means space is a shelter’s biggest problem.

So finding temporary homes for loving furballs, while they are awaiting adoption, can be a hugehelp. Often shelters will pay for food and vet bills, so fostering doesn’t have to be a burden on your wallet either.

A lot of animal lovers think fostering is an enormous, long-term commitment. But rescues choose foster carers very carefully, and make sure that every foster animal is matched with what a carer is able to offer. This means that as long as you are open with the rescue, you will never be expected to take on more commitment or responsibility than you feel comfortable with.

While fostering perhaps isn’t the easiest of ways to support shelters, it’s the one that can have the biggest, most visible impact. Why not read up on fostering on your local rescue’s website right now? Just look for their page on fostering, or if you can’t find it contact your rescue for more information.

As much as rescues try to help animals feel at home, it’s simply not the same as being in the actual home of a loving hooman. Providing shelter, love and perhaps some training is one of the most fulfilling and charitable acts you can do. Opening your life to an animal in need boosts their chances of future adoption, plus you get extra snuggles in your life too! 

6. Go Gift Shopping... For Your Local Animal Shelter

If I think about it, I often factor in gifting to my usual spending. We all do right? Birthdays, Christmas, Weddings - there are so many ways we show each other how much we care. And what’s better than adding some extra care to that gift by choosing to support shelters at the same time? Choosing where you spend your money means you can do a great deed, whilst knowing your money is contributing to a more meaningful purpose.

If you have read our story before, you would know that Paws for Giving exists because I wanted to find a way to create a new fundraising avenue for small and medium rescues, that would be a stable source of revenue. It was important from the moment this goal was set that Paws for Giving would sell gifts that suited a range of styles and tastes. What a lot of people don't realise is we really specialise in selling animal rescue merchandise that you can gift to anyone in your life.

Our range of Aussie, ethical, unique and handmade gifts are lovingly curated from a range of pawesome brands. That means you can easily shop for something for everyone for every occasion. Whether it’s a beautiful necklace, dashing bow tie, sleek homeware, or something for their pooch - 50% of our profits go to shelters,  with you choosing which rescue gets the 50% profit from your purchase.

And don't forget that you can buy gifts from us to literally give to your animal rescue of choice. If you choose the option during checkout, you can buy a gift that we will give directly to an animal rescue of your choice. That way we can help that rescue run a giveaway, raffle or auction fundraiser and you would be the wonderful hooman responsible for donating their prize!

We don't want you to feel like you're walking away empty handed though, especially when you're being socompassionate and generous. So we'll send you a small token of our and the rescue's appreciation.

Not sure which rescue to support? Select 'Any Rescue' and we can choose one for you, or if you want to find out more about our Pawfect Rescue Partners to help you decide, have a read of their profiles here.

7. Say Thank You To Your Local Pet Rescue

Whilst funds are vital to shelter work, so are the shelter workers themselves. Everyday heroes, they shoulder the emotional and physical toll of what can be incredibly challenging work. Without them, animals across Australia would miss out on the care, love and attention they need to get a second chance. Donations towards shelter workers' emotional wellbeing can be just as important as financial ones.

A completely free way to give rescue workers a boost is to support their social media. A like, follow or share might seem a small act, but to rescues these actions are huge. Consider a shoutout to your local rescue on Facebook, or encourage your friends to check out their page for adorable daily pics - the results will only be positive. If you help the rescue get just 1 or even 100 followers, that’s a job well done!

Now this may seem really basic and not that important to do, but here’s some evidence showing that this absolutely makes a difference. And if you don't walk away wanting to thank an animal rescue, I'll eat my hat. So a little while ago I wrote an 'Animal Rescuer Appreciation Post' which had a special image I made up just to show some love and you guessed it, appreciation, for all of the hardworking animal rescue workers.

Well a few days ago I was notified that a comment had been made on that post where I had shared it on the Paws for Giving Facebook Page.

Even a simple post can start a mutual appreciation feedback loop. This wonderful hooman from the North East Animal Sanctuary Tasmania, who we have never worked with before, came across Paws for Giving, saw our rescuer appreciation post, and left this lovely comment.

If there is one thing you do after reading this blog, try going to an Aussie animal rescue group’s Facebook or Instagram page and commenting on a post. Thanking them for what they are doing takes less than a minute, but it will make their day!

Willing to spend a bit more time on thanking your favourite rescue? Here are some other simple ways to show rescue workers that they are appreciated and supported: 

  • Send them a card or some flowers
  • Have your kids draw them some animal art for their staff fridge
  • Drop off lunch or cookies for the workers (check first!)
  • Tell your local government, newspapers, magazines or blogs about the value they bring to your community.

To Summarise

Here are the 7 ways that you can support animal rescues:

  • Donate your time by helping with basic pet rescue needs like dog walking, cleaning the shelter or transport for animals.
  • Donate things that you own but don't need anymore to animal shelters, like blankets, towels, sheets or clothing.
  • Donate your set of super skills to your local animal rescue. Anything is useful here - spreadsheet abilities, photography, writing (animal rescues are often desperate for grant writers), social media, networking, the list goes on.
  • Setup and run your own fundraiser for a dog shelter, just choose a target, post your plan on Facebook or Instagram and watch the swell of support from friends and family members who see you doing a wonderful thing.
  • Foster a pet and let a furball or two into your home and heart. Costs are normally covered by the rescue, and you will be making an enormous difference in the life of a furry friend.
  • Go gift shopping... For your local animal shelter, so they can use something you buy in a giveaway, raffle, auction or other fundraiser.
  • Say thank you to your local pet rescue. This one is so important and easy, it takes a few seconds to post a comment on their Facebook page!

So, now that you’re armed and ready with these easy ways to show shelters some support, don’t forget your homework - go and thank some rescue workers! It’s free, it takes two minutes, and you will feel better for the rest of the day, guaranteed. Not sure where to start? Head to our Rescue Partner page to choose a rescue. Let's help get those tails wagging again! 

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