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How to Hold a Dog Food Drive for a Rescue or Shelter: 9 Tips & Tricks

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Dogster Team

Schnauzer puppy dog eating tasty dry food from bowl

How to Hold a Dog Food Drive for a Rescue or Shelter: 9 Tips & Tricks

All dogs need to eat, including those at shelters and rescues. However, dog food can get surprisingly expensive when you’re feeding dozens of dogs at a shelter. Luckily, dog food drives can be a great way to collect food from the local community.

Often, these drives are a one-off event, but they may take place yearly at certain intervals. Either way, planning the dog food drive properly is vital to its success. We’ll go over some key points you should keep in mind while planning and having a dog food drive.

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The 9 Tips for Holding a Dog Food Drive for a Rescue or Shelter

1. Set Goals

You may imagine that “as much as possible” may be a great goal. However, it’s often best to pick an actual, exact goal. Your goals should be specific, measurable, and time-bound. You should have a specific amount of dog food you’re aiming towards, as well as a deadline for that amount of dog food.

Announce this goal and keep track of it during the drive. Having some visible way to track the goal can help motivate your team and donors. Goals can help increase motivation and help you get results.

measures a portion of dry dog food using an electronic scale
Image Credit: O_Lypa, Shutterstock

2. Spread the Word

You want as many people to donate as possible, so spreading the word as much as possible is essential. Your drive should be promoted through as many channels as you can muster. Social media is a huge channel to advertise through these days, but traditional advertising with flyers and posters can also help you bring in more donations.

Preferably, you should advertise your food drive for at least a month before it begins. This longer advertising cycle helps potential participants prepare and gives you time to get your advertisement in front of as many people as possible.

Spreading the word is the way to a successful drive, but there are also other pointers you shouldn’t ignore.


3. Contact Potential Sponsors

While individual donations will bring in much of your goal, pet-related businesses can also be huge donors. Pet stores, grooming businesses, veterinary clinics, and other sponsors may donate a sizable amount of food in exchange for advertising at your drop-off point. You can meet a decent amount of your goal through sponsorship.

Plus, sponsors can also help you advertise. They may post about your drive on their social media page, or they may allow you to post flyers in their business.

person holding black android smartphone
Image Credit: Jonas Leupe, Unsplash

4. Provide Convenient Donation Options

More people are likely to donate if they don’t have to go far out of their way. You should plan on setting up several convenient drop-off locations. If you can place boxes directly in the pet store, that’s the best option. People can purchase food with their normal shopping and drop it off before they even leave the store.

You can also set up boxes in heavily trafficked areas. If there are any shopping centers near you, consider asking local businesses if they’ll allow you to set up a box outside of their store. Of course, you should also have a box at the shelter or rescue.

For larger donations, consider having a pick-up option. While you cannot pick up everyone’s donation, larger donations may require some assistance.


5. Provide Specific Guidelines

Even if you don’t have many specific guidelines, you should provide details about what you accept and don’t. Otherwise, people may not donate at all, even if you accept just about everything. Plus, a list of accepted items can help spark ideas for those reading your advertisement, prompting more donations.

Specify the exact type of food you allow, such as wet, dry, and specific brands. Even listing something like “all brands accepted” can be helpful to prevent confusion. You should also specify if treats and other supplies are accepted. While it is a food drive, many people may have other supplies at home that they’d also like to donate.

person writing bucket list on book
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash

6. Show Appreciation

No matter what someone brings, show appreciation for their donation. You should also express appreciation for people on social media. Posting regular appreciation posts during the drive can also prompt more people to donate.

For larger donations, you can also send out handwritten notes at a later date or provide small tokens of appreciation. Even small things can make someone feel appreciated, which increases the chance for future donations.


7. Offer Incentives

If possible, you may also want to offer incentives and prizes for donations. If you partner with a local organization, you may be able to offer a discount to a local store when a certain amount of dog food is donated. Potentially, you can also offer community discounts if your goal is met.

Sometimes, drives provide a raffle for larger donations, giving them the chance to win a prize.

Simply put, if the donors get something out of their donation, they’re much more likely to make a donation. They may also be more likely to make donations in the future, as they may feel more appreciated.

two people shaking hands
Photo by Cytonn Photography, Unsplash

8. Host an Event

You can also host an event around the food drive. For instance, you may organize a dog walk or a pet-themed night out. These events can draw more people in, increasing donations. These events also help attract attention, which may increase donations even if people don’t come to the event.

You don’t need to make this event the only time donations are accepted (though you can do a very short drive in this manner). However, even having an event in the middle of your drive can increase visibility and increase donations.


9. Partner with Youth Groups

Schools and youth groups often love projects that involve helping the community, including dog food drives. Spread awareness about animal welfare to these organizations and see if they’ll help with your drive. Youth supporters can spread the word about the dog food drive, help collect donations, and even deliver donations to the shelter.

You can also ask youth groups to make the flyers and posters used for the advertisements. Many youth groups are centered around helping children and teens learn how to help their community, and dog food drives are a great way to help them accomplish their goals, too.

A group of friends at a coffee shop
Photo by Brooke Cagle, Unsplash

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Final Thoughts

Dog food drives are a great way to stock up on food for shelters and rescues. However, running them is more complicated than you may think. You have to consider how to advertise the dog food drive, how to collect donations, and how to encourage people to donate. Often, there are a lot of moving parts involved, especially if it’s a larger drive.

Luckily, there are many ways to find partners to help you accomplish all of this. Local stores and businesses will often provide a place to advertise, place donation boxes, and may even provide donations themselves. You should also consider getting local youth groups involved, especially over the summer months.


Featured Image Credit: Maximilian100, Shutterstock

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