Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: Help Raise Funds for Animal Nonprofits

By Paula Fitzsimmons

An animal nonprofit can be well-respected, have solid goals, and a dedicated group of staff and volunteers. But without adequate funding, most won’t get very far.

For animal rescues & sanctuaries, food, veterinary bills, and land required to house the animals, all cost money. And unlike the image you see in this post, the green stuff doesn’t grow on trees. Sure, people and businesses may at times, donate these products & services; but often not at the level required to care for the hundreds of needy animals they may receive each year.

Larger advocacy groups, including those working to educate the public, and promote animal-friendly legislation, have expenses, too: Rent, campaign expenses, and employees, to name a few. As nice as it would be to rely solely on volunteers, these types of groups need to maintain skilled, dedicated staffs. Creating effective programs, crafting policies, and working with legislators all can take a lot of time – months, years, and even decades. Finding skilled people willing to work the long hours required, without pay, is a tall order – even if they are super dedicated to the cause.

This is where your skills are needed.

Fundraising is an umbrella term encompassing a variety of positions that may be found within a nonprofit. Depending on the size of the organization, you may be responsible for one specific area – such as managing large donors or writing grant proposals – or be tasked with having to juggle numerous ones. The following are just a few of the fundraising jobs some nonprofits may recruit for.

At a minimum, you will typically need at least a Bachelor’s degree for a job in fundraising, and depending on the position, varying levels of experience. Some positions require special credentials, such as Certified Fund Raising Executive® status. If you’re serious about this career path, a couple of good places to start your research include The Foundation Center and American Grant Writers’ Association, Inc.

Note that the titles and responsibilities of each may differ . . . but this will give you a general idea of the different fundraising positions to search for.


Read “A Career Raising Cash for Animal Causes . . .Is it for You” for insights into what it takes to fundraise for a major wildlife advocacy organization.


Major donor fundraiser

As the title implies, the person in this type of position is responsible for finding and cultivating relationships with groups and individuals who are able to donate high-dollar amounts to the nonprofit. The definition of high-dollar varies with the organization, but typically is at least in the thousands.

You’ll need: Excellent negotiating, presentation, and communication skills; knowledge of how to prospect for donors; ability to maintain donor databases.

Database Coordinator

Having complete and accurate records of donors both large & small is essential to any nonprofit. It helps an organization with analyses, to readily identify donors for future appeals, and is required for bookkeeping and auditing purposes.

You’ll need: Excellent attention to detail, organizational, and analytical skills.


Special Events Coordinator

In this position, you could be in charge of organizing any number of events, from online auctions to charity events; as well as managing the organization’s gift shop.

You’ll need: Great people and organizational skills; as well as the ability to manage a variety of roles.

As a fundraiser, you may not have constant contact with animals, but you’ll be making a tremendous difference. Raising money is vital for animals – as well as for the organizations devoted to animal advocacy.

Grant Writer

Writing a grant proposal can be a complicated and painstaking endeavor. On one hand you need to be able to craft compelling prose; and on the other, follow instructions, and provide accurate & detailed data.

You’ll need: Excellent writing skills; understanding of the complexities of the grants process; excellent research and interviewing skills.


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