How do Animal Shelters Make Money (6 Ways)

Animal shelters are nonprofits that take in homeless and unwanted animals. They provide food, medical care, and shelter for these animals. Most animal shelters are funded through donations from the community, but it can be hard to raise enough money to cover all of their needs.

Here are the 6 ways Animal Shelter Nonprofits make money.

1. Online Donations

The most common way that animal shelter nonprofits make money is through online donations. These shelters rely on the generosity of people in the community to help take care of all of their animals. They often have donation drives or fundraisers, but they also get donations from other businesses or individuals.

Donations are used to cover the day-to-day expenses of running an animal shelter, like food, medical care, and cleaning supplies. The more money donated, the more animals can be rescued and cared for!

Pro tip: Animal Shelter Nonprofits can get start online fundraising with Donorbox easily within minutes.

2. Adoptions

dog adoption

One of the most common ways animal shelters make money is through adoptions. When an animal is adopted, the shelter receives a fee to cover expenses, including food and veterinary care.

Additionally, adoption fees may help subsidize other costs for that animal. For example, an adoption fee could cover the cost of spaying or neutering that animal.

It’s important to note that some shelters charge a lower adoption fee in an effort to increase the likelihood of adoption. This might be because they have a high volume of animals or because they’re trying to fill empty space in their shelter.

3. Fundraising Events


Many shelters raise money through events like an annual 5k race or a walk-a-thon. These events can serve as a way to increase awareness about the shelter, as well as provide the community with a fun activity.

Fundraising events are a great way for animal shelters to generate revenue. These events can be anything from a silent auction to a dog walkathon. If you really want to get creative, you could create your own fundraising event that’s centered around animals! For example, if it’s summertime, you could have a watermelon eating contest! Just remember that fundraisers are only effective if they are followed by regular giving.

The Shelter Pet Project also raises funds by hosting online animal adoption campaigns, which have been hugely successful so far.

4. Selling Animal Products & Merchandise Sales

Animal shelters often sell items, like pet food and animal toys. This is a great way for them to make money because it doesn’t require much overhead. To start this business, shelters just need some extra storage space and the right supplies.

Many shelters also volunteer to groom pets in exchange for donations or provide dog walking services.

Another way animal shelters make money is through merchandise sales. Animal shelters have all sorts of merchandise, from t-shirts to water bottles to coffee mugs. Animal shelters also sell branded items, like pins and stickers. They can even sell their own line of pet food!

5. Grants


Many animal shelters receive grants from organizations and corporations. These grants can provide a large chunk of the nonprofit’s budget. It’s common for groups or companies to donate money for a specific project or campaign, such as building more kennels for dogs or collecting more dog food.

The amount of the grant received is also determined by the number of pets adopted from the shelter. A higher adoption rate means more money for the shelter.

In order to receive grants, shelters must prove that they’re adopting out a large number of animals. Sometimes, shelters will give away animals for free or at a very low cost.

6. Government Programs

Some animal shelters receive grants from the government, which may cover medical costs or food. These shelters are considered “government-funded” and have a lot of freedom when it comes to how they operate.

Other animal shelters are funded by donations, fundraising, and adoption fees. These shelters are considered “non-government-funded” and have fewer freedoms than government-funded shelters because they’re expected to operate as moneymaking businesses.

For example, non-government-funded shelters are not allowed to euthanize animals for medical reasons, whereas government-funded animal shelters can euthanize animals for medical reasons due to the fact that they receive government funding. All animal control agencies are required by law to provide care for lost or abandoned animals until they can be claimed or adopted into new homes.

Final Thoughts

Animal shelters across the world rely on donations, fundraising events, adoption fees, selling animal products, selling space in the shelter, grants, and animal-funded activities to stay afloat. These are some of the ways animal shelter nonprofits can implement to make money and also run shelters efficiently.

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