Out-Of-The-Box Event Ideas to Build Loving Community

Do you have cute puppies and kittens at your shelter? Have you ever thought about creating some exciting events where those animals can be featured to promote your foster program and bring in much-needed funds or supplies for your organization? There are some fun opportunities to feature these adorable pets and to bring in support for the other pets who are waiting for homes at your shelter! Here are a few ideas of events that we’ve done at KC Pet Project in Kansas City that you can replicate or use as inspiration for your organization:

Puppy Brunch

What’s better than mimosas and puppies? Nothing, right? A puppy brunch event is just as cute as it sounds and is really easy to pull off. Partner with a local company, restaurant, or retail store or have it at your shelter if you have the space. We partnered with a new, local retail store who sells curated, second-hand apparel and furniture. Proceeds from all sales of this store actually benefit our organization and another local nonprofit, so having the event there was a great bonus for us.

We charged a small event fee ($35) and all attendees received bottomless mimosas, some snacks, a couple of raffle tickets, and endless puppy snuggles. We limited tickets to 100 people and the event sold out in less than a week. People were on the Facebook event page begging for tickets because they missed out on buying them! A local photobooth company donated a beautiful backdrop which helped us create the most adorable photos from the event, and all 12 puppies were a huge hit.

Reach out to your local distribution companies or liquor stores for donations of the sparkling wine and orange juice and ask your local bakeries or grocery stores to provide some baked foods or snacks. Build a buzz on your social media pages for the event by creating really cute graphics and making an event page through which to sell tickets via Facebook. Introduce the cute puppies that will be attending, and people will be lining up!

Plus, you gain additional donors for your organization and maybe even some new fosters. We raised nearly $3,700 at our first Puppy Brunch and it was the easiest (and cutest) 2-hour event we’ve done in a long time. This type of event is easy, the overhead is minimal (or non-existent!) and it can bring a lot of support to your organization.

Snuggle Service

Another program that we started last year at KC Pet Project is called Snuggle Service. We were often getting asked to bring adoptable puppies or dogs to events all over town, but we were not getting any financial incentive to do so. In our industry, resources can be very slim, especially when it comes to staffing, so we created a program to help support the other pets at our shelter.

For a $500 donation, you can sign up for a ‘Snuggle Service’ and we’ll bring puppies and/or kittens for 2 hours to your company, school, or event and those funds support our Foster Pantry to provide food, medicine, and supplies for the amazing families who take in puppies or kittens from our shelter. The only stipulation is that having the Snuggle Service does depend on puppies or kittens being available at the time, and we only feature puppies who are 6 weeks of age or older. But so far, we’ve raised thousands from this event and it’s another great way to build your organization’s awareness in the community, to bring in new donors and supporters, and gain you some new foster interest.

Plus, companies all say that it is a wonderful pick-me-up for their employees. We even had the Kansas City Royals front office tell us that they should do one after every loss!

The Big Question

I know some of you right now are asking, “what if I don’t have puppies or kittens”? I realize that for some shelters, a litter of puppies can be a unicorn in the shelter. Then for others, you’re overwhelmed with so many puppies. Having a Puppy Brunch or Snuggle Service might not be feasible but you could come up with creative alternatives. Maybe it’s something cute like a Pit Bull Brunch (I’d go to that!) or a pop-up Cat Café event with a local company. There are some fun ways to still showcase your adoptable pets and bring in much-needed funds for your organization while involving your community in a more hands-on, interactive way.

Be creative, look at your animal population, and brainstorm with some local businesses to think of fun out-of-the-box, and, best of all, easy events to help your shelter pets.

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Tori Fugate

Tori Fugate

Tori Fugate is the Chief Communications Officer for KC Pet Project. Tori's role has enabled her to build the nonprofit organization's brand and promote its mission from inception to what it is today. She oversees all marketing, events, web management, social media, and media relations. She enjoys the opportunity to promote KC Pet Project and its pets through social media and in print, radio and television appearances on a local and national level. Questions? Email Tori at [email protected].