You’ve noticed a small colony of community cats in your area. Perhaps they are living in the woods close to where you work, or are hanging out behind a local restaurant, or have taken up residence beneath a neighbor’s porch. You want to help them and clearly they need to be neutered, but how can you afford to do it? Here are five simple ways to raise funds for a small-scale trap-neuter-return effort and colony maintenance plan.
1. Ask for small monetary donations.
Directly asking for money is often the easiest way to go. Ask friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and local business owners for small donations. Community members are often willing to pitch in to support a good cause in their neighborhood. If the idea of asking people for money face-to-face is terrifying to you, then write a short letter or create a simple flyer explaining your project. Having a flyer or letter to hand to the person you’re asking adds credibility to your project and helps to break the ice. You could also solicit funds by setting up a fundraising page using a personal fundraising website like GoFundMe.
2. Collect in-kind donations.
Sometimes you can find almost everything you need by collecting donated services and supplies. Start by asking for what you need through your social networking channels or try a site like Nextdoor, which allows you to reach multiple residents in your neighborhood. Some other tips:
- Food: Ask managers at local supermarkets, pet supply stores and feed stores if they have expired or damaged bags or cans of cat food. You can also get permission to place a donation bin at a local grocery store or church.
- Housing: Hardware and lumber supply stores will often donate slightly damaged building supplies, which can be used to build cat shelters. Old coolers and other supplies that can be converted into cat-appropriate housing can often be found at local yard sales.
- Vet care: Ask local veterinarians if they’d be willing to donate a spay or neuter surgery or offer a discount for community cats in need.
3. Set out donation jars.
It never hurts to put together a few collection jars with a cute cat photo and a brief explanation of what the money is for. Ask local pet stores, veterinary offices, markets and other service-oriented businesses if they’d be willing to put one out.
4. Organize a small fundraiser.
Small events are an easy way to raise a lot of money in a short period of time. Neighborhood yard sales, bake sales and recycling drives can usually be organized quickly and with minimal effort. Recruit help from neighbors and friends, make sure to advertise your event locally and online, and avoid planning anything too elaborate and costly. In a nutshell, keep it simple.
5. Connect with local civic organizations and schools.
Community-based organizations (e.g., the local Rotary Club or Women’s Club) can be a great source of support for your project. Because their focus is on improving and supporting their communities, they’re often looking for new causes to get behind. In addition, after-school and outreach programs for kids often involve a community-focused project. Ask if the kids might be interested in helping local cats by collecting supplies or hosting a small fundraiser of their own.
Things to remember when fundraising:
- Provide potential donors with helpful information about community cats. Check out the many resources at bestfriends.org/straycats.
- When creating flyers and donation jars, make sure to use positive, eye-catching images of cats and include basic information about community cats to legitimize your efforts.
- For safety reasons, do not advertise the exact location of the cats you’re trying to help.
- Check your state government website for any rules and regulations related to fundraising. And if you aren't raising funds through a 501(c)(3) organization, make sure donors are aware that their gifts may not be tax-deductible.