If you're an animal lover, starting an animal rescue is a great place to begin helping out animals who are in need. 

Every year in the United States, there are an average of 6.5 million dogs, cats, and other pets who enter into animal rescues as a result of becoming lost or abandoned by their owners. With the limited number of ready and willing rescuers and animal rescue organizations, these animals rely on compassionate people like you to garner extra support.

When it comes to starting an animal rescue with no money, it can be challenging and overwhelming to know where to begin. 

Keep reading to learn:

  • How much it costs to start an animal rescue
  • How animal rescues make money
  • 7 Types of animal rescue fundraisers that you can start
  • What times of year you can get more donations for your animal rescue
  • How to use Braid Pools and Pool Links for your animal rescue 
  • Things to ask your community to donate to your animal rescue

How much does it cost to start an animal rescue?

When starting an animal rescue organization, there are several steps to take, and each has an associated cost. 

Before you are able to accept charitable donations, you will need to incorporate your animal rescue as a 501(c)(3)nonprofit. Every state has different fees and procedures in order to incorporate. You can visit the IRS website to learn more about the specific process your state requires. However, regardless of your location, you can expect this investment to be up to several hundred dollars. 

In addition to the costs associated with establishing your animal rescue organization as a nonprofit, there are several other expenses to take into account. Some other major costs to consider include the following: 

  • A website domain, provider, and designer
  • A physical brick and mortar facility for your animal rescue, unless you are solely establishing a foster based rescue
  • Veterinary bills
  • Transportation for the animals
  • Liability insurance
  • Legal services

How do animal rescues make money?

Starting an animal rescue organization is a big but worthy undertaking. It will likely require a sizable investment. However, you do not have to bear the financial burden alone.


Donations make up a large majority, if not all, of the funding for animal rescue organizations.

The right financial support is essential to keeping a rescue open and ready to save animals who are in need. This money helps animal rescue organizations cover the costs of food, bedding, veterinary care, and other essentials. 

However, you can also start a for profit animal rescue organization, which can make money by charging a fee when a pet is surrendered and when a pet is adopted. 

When you’re just getting started, consider using Braid Pools to begin budgeting and allocating money towards your animal rescue, click here to learn more.  

7 Types of animal rescue fundraisers that you can start

So, you're interested in raising money to start a local animal rescue, but you need some fundraising ideas. Here are seven suggestions to get your wheels turning!

1. Host a “Dog Wash”

This is a classic twist on a car wash fundraiser, but instead, pet owners can come to have their dog washed with donations for the service going to your rescue organization.

2. Host a Dog Walkathon 

Just like a typical walkathon fundraising event, but get the pets involved! Simply charge an admission fee or feel free to sell other concessions and swag as well.

3. Host a Pet Bake Sale 

Here’s another twist on a classic: the bake sale. Instead of typical sweets, bake up batches of cat and dog friendly treats to sell.

4.Host a Costume Contest 

This is a particularly fun idea if you are fundraising around Halloween. Similar to the walkathon, charge an admission fee for the contest, and consider bolstering your fundraising with a concession stand.

5.Host a Talent Show 

Here’s another interactive event idea - a talent show! Almost every animal, young or old, has a signature trick whether it's simply catching a tennis ball or performing a more challenging feat. Encourage owners to put their pets’ best acts on display and charge an admissions fee for entry.

6. Host a Charity Auction 

Charity auctions are another common fundraising method. You can engage local businesses to donate items for the auction with proceeds going directly to your animal rescue organization.

7. Host a Trivia Night

 A trivia night is another great way to engage a local business to help with your fundraising efforts. Charge an admission fee for trivia teams to enter. Then see if the local bar or restaurant hosting the event would also be willing to donate a portion of the food and drink sales to your organization. 

How do you choose the best time of year for your fundraiser?

You want your animal rescue fundraiser to be a huge success. So, choosing the best time of year for your fundraiser is key.

The holiday season is the perfect time of year to start a fundraiser for your local animal rescue organization and help out animals who are in need during the cold winter months. People are often more generous during the holiday season because they are in the spirit of giving and know how much money they have left to donate for the remainder of the year. 

While December is often the busiest month of the year for donations, November is a great month to host an animal rescue fundraiser because of National Animal Rescue Appreciation Week. Every November, rescues throughout the country are recognized for their efforts in caring for millions of displaced animals in America. 

A great way to celebrate National Animal Rescue Appreciation Week would be to kick off an animal rescue fundraiser. In observance of the occasion, many people will look for ways to support animal rescue organizations. Your fundraiser will be the perfect place to show their appreciation.

How to set up Braid Pools for your animal rescue

What is a Braid Pool?


A Braid Money Pool is a dedicated place to collect, manage, and spend funds for your animal rescue.  

When you’re just starting an animal rescue, you may not have a bank account open yet. You can use Braid Pools to avoid mixing money and contributions for your animal rescue with your personal funds. 


Set up as many Braid Pools as you need

Create pools to budget different aspects of running your animal rescue organization, like a food and supplies fund, a veterinary bills fund, and an animal transportation fund.

You can create pools for the different types of fundraisers that you want to have or make one big pool to collect donations for all fundraisers


For example, you can set up one pool for all donations. This approach gives your contributors one pool to donate to. 

Or divide your pool for donations by type of animal, one for cat lovers and one for dog lovers. This option gives contributors something fun to choose from that aligns with their passions and where they would like to give. 

Braid Pool Links are an amazing tool to help get your animal rescue fundraiser off the ground, and it is free to use. 

Once you create a Pool Link, donors can simply contribute directly to your Braid Pool with a debit card or credit card. 

Run your fundraiser for as long as you need to. The giving does not have to stop at your fundraising event! Keep the momentum going year round to help get donations and invaluable service to animals who are in need throughout the year.

Personalizing and sharing your Pool Link after you set up your Braid Pools is a seamless process that will get you on the road to collecting donations in no time.

Personalize your Pool Link


Customize it so it clearly reflects your animal rescue fundraiser with wording like, “Atlanta’s Local Animal Rescue Fundraiser" or "Fulton’s Animal Rescue Costume Contest.” 


Add a photo and a brief caption to let contributors know how their contributions will be used to help animals who are in need.


Share your Pool Link


After you set up your animal rescue fundraiser and personalize your Pool Link, it is time to share it! Your Pool Link can go virtually anywhere: 


  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Social media
  • QR codes

Ready to learn more about collecting donations for animal rescue fundraisers with Braid? Click here!

Don't forget to thank your contributors!


Every contribution is tracked in the pool feed with the contributor’s name and their gift amount. You can also generate a financial statement that lists that lists this information as well


This concise record helps you save time if you want to write your Thank You notes to everyone who donated to your cause.

What can you ask your community to donate to your animal rescue?

In addition to raising money for your animal rescue, you can also ask for other donations to your organization. Below is a list of items that animal rescues need that people can contribute if they want to make a non-monetary donation:

  • Towels and blankets
  • Toys
  • Animal nursing bottles
  • Cages and crates
  • Unopened food or treats
  • Leashes, collars, and harnesses

Starting an animal rescue with no money may seem daunting, but with Braid Pools, you'll be able to start helping the animals in your community in no time. Whether you’ve organized a fundraising event or you’re working on other aspects of your animal rescue, your Pool Link is live 24/7 until you decide to turn it off, so your animal rescue can get fundraising throughout the year. 

Budget the costs of starting an animal rescue & easily fundraise with Braid Pools

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