People love their pets. Whether it’s a dog, cat, fish, or iguana—they’re all beloved by their individual owners. And if there’s anything a pet owner loves more than their actual pet, it’s taking and sharing photos of that pet. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging, and easy way to raise money for your nonprofit organization, why not give people an opportunity to show off their furry friends for a chance to win an amazing grand prize?

How to Run a Pet Photo Contest Fundraiser

  1. Outline Your Contest Goals
  2. Pick Pet Photo Contest Theme
  3. Determine Contest Rules
  4. Determine Prizes
  5. Create Pet Photo Contest on
  6. Promote Pet Photo Contest
  7. Announce Your Winner

If you’re busy as an administrator for a nonprofit organization, chances are you don’t want the added stress of also running a complicated fundraising event. That’s where comes in. We take the heavy lifting of planning a fundraiser off your hands, so you can keep your focus on operating the nonprofit. We offer a smooth and easy process, along with a reliable tech platform, that ensures a successful contest and also provides you with a contact list to share future news and developments with your community.

Who Should Run a Pet Photo Contest?

A pet photo contest is an ideal choice for any cause or organization with animals at its heart. So, if you run an animal rescue organization or shelter, a pet adoption service, a dog training school, or a nonprofit veterinary center, what better way to engage your community than by asking your stakeholders to submit their favorite photos of their beloved animal companions. Add to that the reality that you also have the opportunity to raise substantial money for your organization, and it’s a no-brainer.

But don’t assume that animal-related organizations are the only nonprofits that can benefit from launching a pet photo contest. Everybody loves to see cute animals, and you can’t go wrong using them as a fun opportunity to raise funds for your organization. Encouraging your community to send in pictures of their furry friends will help you build a solid bank of user-generated content that you can re-purpose as social media posts and other brand-related materials.

How to Run a Pet Photo Contest

In order to make sure your pet photo contest is fun and effective, you’ll want to follow these seven steps:    

1. Outline Your Contest Goals

Before you start to outline the details of your contest, make sure you and your team are clear on what you’d like your fundraising event to accomplish. You should, of course, set a fundraising goal, but your pet photo contest can generate additional benefits beyond the money you raise.

Do you need to re-engage your audience? Build brand awareness? Establish a library of user-generated content? Whatever your goals are, they should be measurable and clearly articulated so that everyone knows where the finish line is. As much as possible, you should share your contest goals with your audience so that they know how their participation is contributing to your cause’s objectives.

2. Pick Pet Photo Contest Theme

It feels like the choices for pet photo contest themes might be endless. Cutest pet. Cuddliest pet. Funniest pet. Most unusual pet. Seasonal pet photos. Pets dressed as people. Pets dressed in crazy costumes. The sky’s the limit.

For an extra engagement step to get people excited, involve your stakeholders in helping you choose a theme. You can use your social media channels and/or other feedback mechanisms to collect ideas from your pet-loving community. There’s no right or wrong; as long as your audiences are excited about your theme, you’ve picked a great one.

Pro Tip: pet photo contests often make effective holiday fundraisers. People love dressing their pets up for holidays and showing them off.

The important thing is to choose a theme that your audience connects with, giving them a chance to showcase their creativity and humor while enjoying that of others.

3. Determine Contest Rules

Nothing kills the excitement of a super fun contest faster than ambiguity and confusion over the rules. So, it’s important to spell everything out in detail at the very beginning of your contest.

What are the submission guidelines? Will you charge a fee to enter the contest? How will a grand prize winner be chosen? Will you award prizes for second and third place? How many pets/photos will ultimately be shared/featured? Will you have a different category per pet breed? What kinds of pets are eligible—only dogs and cats or others? How will you determine an overall winner—will you employ judges or will the winner be determined purely by popular vote?

Make sure to clearly communicate guidelines for the pictures themselves as well. Will you accept both black-and-white and color photography? What about photo illustrations? How much room do people have to edit their photos? Is there a specific file type and/or size you’ll need submissions to adhere to?

This is the hardest part of planning a pet photo contest, but once you have the details ironed out, the fun part begins.

4. Determine Prizes

Your first-place prize winner should earn something enticing; something that’s meaningful to your audience.

This is also a good way to attract sponsors. You may have a local business that’s willing to donate a grand prize in exchange for the promotion of their business. Think about pet supply stores, veterinary offices, and other for-profit businesses that love animals and would be willing to donate a prize or two in order to gain visibility with participants and supporters.

If it’s possible to give away some of your own products or services, that’s another opportunity to keep your organization top of mind and build connections with stakeholders.

5. Create Pet Photo Contest on

Working with is easy, and requires very little work or effort on your part. We do all the heavy lifting. Once you’ve initiated a contract with us, all we need are your contest guidelines, and your start and end date. We’ll develop the contest using our own platform, hosted on our servers, and using our domain. Then we’ll send you a unique URL that you can use to promote the fundraiser and attract participants. All you have to do is share that URL as far and wide as you can to keep attracting contest submissions.

As each contest participant uploads their photo entry to your contest platform, they’ll receive a personalized link that they can send to their own friends, family, and social networks to encourage people to vote for them.

Voters pay a small fee for each vote they cast, usually around $1. Voters may vote as many times as they’d like, and you earn donations for your organization every time they do. When your contest reaches its end date, we’ll shut down voting, tabulate the results, and send you the money your contest earned for your organization.

We’ll also give you a contact list of everyone who voted and/or entered your contest, so you’ll have a reliable outreach list you can use to share further information about your organization and cause.

6. Promote Your Pet Photo Contest

Promoting your pet photo contest can be a fun way to use all your existing channels of communication and really engage your supporters. If you have a website and/or social media channels, you can use your custom URL to drive participants and voters to your contest. You should also take advantage of other channels of communication, like email or print newsletters, stakeholder meetings, and any other official communication your donors receive on a regular basis. Talk about your pet photo contest at every available opportunity so that it stays top of mind.

Depending on your organization and the market you’re in, you might also consider sending a press release to the local media about your pet photo contest, or you might even be able to find a sponsor to help you purchase digital or print advertisements.

Don’t forget the power of word of mouth and organic social networking! Ask all of your employees, volunteers, and other close stakeholders to tell everyone they know about your pet photo contest. You might be surprised at how effective this channel of communication can be.

7. Announce Contest Winner

The more special you can make the announcement of your pet photo contest winner, the better. If possible, take advantage of fundraising or celebration dinners, galas, etc., that you have planned throughout the year. You could even name a certain number of finalists and invite all of them to fill a table at the event, with the announcement of the contest winner serving as a highlight.

Make sure you also use all the same communications channels you used to promote your contest to also promote the winner. Really show them some love—in addition to the amazing grand prize you settled on, the public praise of their creativity and photography talent can go a long way toward building good will with someone who already loves your organization. 

As an added follow-up, you might even think about printing a contest calendar featuring your 1st place winner and runners-up so that each entrant and their supporters have a contest memento that keeps your organization top of mind for the entire year. You can even sell the contest calendars in order to raise additional money for your organization.

Pet Photo Contests are a Fun and Effective Fundraiser

Whether you run a nonprofit organization that supports animals or not, a pet photo contest is a fun and exciting way to engage your supporters and raise money for your cause. After all, every pet owner loves showing off cute pictures of their furry friend. makes it easy, too! All you have to do is determine your contest parameters and we take care of the rest. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out today to schedule a demo—our team would love to show you just how simple and effective we can make your next fundraising event!