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

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

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

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.

Let’s see how dog rescues or dog shelters make money:

Dog rescues primarily make money through adoption fees, donations from the public, fundraising events, and grants. Here’s a brief rundown:

  1. Adoption Fees: When dogs are adopted, new owners typically pay a fee which helps cover the cost of care the dog received while at the rescue.
  2. Donations: Individual contributions can come from dog lovers, philanthropists, or anyone interested in supporting animal welfare.
  3. Fundraising Events: Many rescues organize events such as charity walks, auctions, or galas where they raise money from participants and sponsors.
  4. Grants: Some rescues qualify for grants from the government, animal welfare foundations, or corporations that offer funding for non-profit organizations.
  5. merchandise Sales: Selling branded merchandise, like t-shirts or calendars, can also provide income.
  6. Services: Some rescues offer services like grooming or dog training for a fee.
  7. Partnerships: Collaborations with businesses can provide a stream of income. For example, a pet food company might donate a portion of its proceeds to the rescue.

Rescues may also engage in other creative forms of generating income, but these are the most common and significant sources.

How much do Animal Shelters Make?

  • Small, local shelters: The leaders of these organizations might earn a modest salary that could be comparable to that of a teacher or social worker, ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 per year.
  • Medium-sized shelters: Managers or directors can expect salaries in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 annually, depending on the funding and budget of the shelter.
  • Large shelters or well-funded organizations: Executive Directors or CEOs might have salaries that range from $75,000 to over $100,000, with those at the largest and most prominent shelters potentially earning more, especially in high-cost-of-living areas.

In municipally-run shelters, the salary is often consistent with public service pay scales for management positions. For private shelters that operate for profit, which are less common, the income would depend on the success of the business and might be derived from various services such as adoptions, boarding, grooming, and veterinary care. In those cases, income would vary more significantly based on the business model and revenue.

Remember, these figures are approximate and can vary from one place to another. They also depend on the financial health of the shelter and the fundraising ability of those who run it. Additionally, compensation in the nonprofit sector is often lower than in the for-profit sector, with many individuals choosing to work in this field for reasons other than financial gain, such as a passion for animal welfare.

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.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we might earn a small commission on qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps us run this website and share more such valuable posts.

Similar Posts