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Furry Fundraising - how to raise funds for pet and vet care bills

For your own pets or pets you rescue in need of veterinary care

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Dog with money - photo credit: yomanimus on Flickr

Dog with money

photo credit: yomanimus on Flickr

Times are tough for pet lovers everywhere. A treatable pet emergency can turn into a life-or-death situation when funds are tight, creating what is termed "economic euthanasia."

More than the usual high numbers of pets have been surrendered to shelters or found abandoned in foreclosed homes in this recent economic downturn.

Making A Change For The Better
There are bright spots in this story, too. People pulling together to increase awareness and funds for shelters, rescues and animals everywhere. This has been accomplished largely through grass roots efforts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

A case in point is what Caroline Golon has done using Twitter. Golon, otherwise known as Romeo the Cat's "staff," has raised over $24,000 in 8 months (February to October 2009) and helped countless rescue animals everywhere.

What about saving just one pet?
These fundraising efforts are very impressive and much needed, but what if you are just one person, rescuing one animal?

This issue came up on the AboutVetMed Facebook page, where a viewer posted a photo of a sweet senior dog and wrote:

"I am trying to find this little girl a home and come up with funds for her vet expenses. I found her trying to cross a busy highway. Her toenails were so long that she was having trouble walking. I took her to our town's animal control holding facility to wait for her family to come get her, but nobody came. I couldn't let her go to the shelter so I picked her up and am trying to get her vetted and into a good home. I have contacted some rescue groups but heard nothing back as of yet."

This dog was lucky. First, to be picked up and brought to a vet, and second, for someone keeping her until a better situation can be found. I wondered how one could raise funds for a case like this - not a rescue organization, not a non-profit, not for a personal pet, but wanting to do the right thing for an animal in need.

I asked the question on my Twitter page and received several responses that I will highlight here.

Finding Funds With the Help of Friends
Turns out, there are many ways to raise money online. Some are simply a matter of entering your information and begin fundraising efforts, other sites qualify the recipients prior to collecting money or granting funds.

Most sites are free to sign up as either a recipient or donor. Some sites charge a fee to collect the funds, some are free. As always, read the fine print before signing up with personal and financial information.

Disclaimer: I have only used the PayPal site. As with any financial transaction, please read all rules and use your own discretion.

  • Modest Needs - According to their site, "100% of every contribution our donors make goes directly to the low income individuals and families who've requested our assistance (Modest Needs' own costs are paid by grants from foundations made for that purpose)." Applications are screened, and funds are paid to the creditors, not the applicant, to reduce chances of fraud. They cover a variety of hardship situations, including an Animal/Pet Care category.
    Get the full story: Modest Needs FAQs
  • Microgiving - The philosophy of microgiving is that it is powerful when "lots of people join together and give a little." From their site: "100% of the money donated through Microgiving.com goes directly to the recipient quickly and efficiently through PayPal. (Minus PayPal's transaction fee of approx 2%.)"
    Get the full story: Microgiving FAQs
  • GiveForward - This site, like the others, offers free fundraising pages to raise money for your cause. Their philosophy, like their name, is based on paying it forward. From their FAQ: "Sometimes we are the givers, sometimes we are the receivers, but always we are contributing to making the world a better place." There are no fees for donors. Recipients are charged 3% of the total amount collected to maintain GiveForward.org.
    Get the full story: GiveForward FAQs
  • ChipIn - From their site: "ChipIn allows anyone to collect money for a personal cause, group purchase, or fundraiser using their own custom ChipIn page." They also have a tool that "enables bloggers to create an interactive widget that allows them to raise money directly through blogs and other social media." ChipIn provides its services free of charge, but PayPal fees may apply.
    Get the full story: ChipIn FAQs
  • PayPal - this is the site many people use to put a "make a donation" button on their site and it is a trustworthy site. The problem for many is that you need a site to put the donation button on. Depending on the type of PayPal account you have, there may be a small transaction fee for each transaction. Also, a word of caution: I have seen some "rescue sites" filled with heartbreaking animal photos that are nothing but a "donate now" PayPal link.
  • Facebook - Post photos and connect with your friends and family about the pet who needs help. Alternatively (or in addition to), you can create a public "fan page" for your cause. Viewers do not have to send a friend request to view the fan page like the standard profile page.

Next page: Additional Sources of Vet Bill Help

Photo credit: yomanimus on Flickr

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