How to Host a Dog Wash Fundraiser in 5 Simple Steps

You’ve likely heard of a car wash fundraiser—where volunteers wash cars to raise money for a charitable cause. But what about a dog wash fundraiser?

A dog wash fundraiser is an easy and unique spin on the car wash fundraiser, perfect for supporting animal-related causes. Instead of washing cars, in a dog wash fundraiser,  volunteers wash dogs. In exchange, participating dog owners will donate cash to your nonprofit.

Not only does a dog wash fundraiser help raise money for your nonprofit, but it also engages a group of your most likely potential supporters: dog owners. In this guide, we’ll look at the essential steps for hosting a dog wash fundraiser, including:

  1. Define realistic goals.
  2. Find a free, accessible venue.
  3. Advertise across multiple channels. 
  4. Gather the necessary dog wash supplies.
  5. Wash the dogs!

As you plan and execute your dog wash fundraiser, remember you don’t have to do this on your own. Leverage your community, particularly partners in nonprofit and for-profit spaces, to support your efforts. Just as you’ll benefit from their help, they’ll benefit from a positive public association with your cause. With this in mind, let’s dive in! 


1. Define realistic goals. 

Setting realistic goals should be the first step in your dog wash fundraiser planning. Without a goal, there’s no way to measure your success.

Considering your available resources, your audience size, and the amount you can reasonably charge per wash, come up with a realistic amount you think you can raise during your fundraiser. If you’ve hosted a similar fundraiser in the past, use that campaign and donor data to guide your goal-setting. However, if you’re still unsure where to set your goals, it’s better to assume you’ll raise less (and be pleasantly surprised) than to set your target too high and be disappointed. 


2. Find a free, accessible venue. 

You’ll need a place to host your dog wash fundraiser. When deciding on your venue, keep in mind that you’ll need access to water, electricity, and a shelter from the weather (more on these below) if you plan to wash dogs outside. Moreover, you’ll want a location that is:

  • Available on a date and time that works for both you and your supporters.
  • Located in an area that’s accessible to your supporters and will attract foot traffic from passersby.
  • Free for you to use.

While this location could be a backyard or dog park, you might also choose to partner with a local pet store, dog daycare, or other pet-care business to host the dog wash event at their facilities. A dog groomer, for example, will have built-in washing stations to make the setup process super easy. 


3. Advertise across multiple channels. 

Once you know where your dog wash fundraiser will be held and how much money you hope to raise, it’s time to start marketing your event. Sharing the core event details (who, what, when, where, and why) in an engaging way will create anticipation, rally your base, and mean that your fundraiser is popular and well-attended. 

Plan to take a multi-pronged approach to marketing and advertising your fundraising event, including: 

  • Sending email reminders
  • Leveraging Google Ad Grants to place free ads on Google
  • Posting updates on social media
  • Launching a direct mail campaign

Just as you used your local connections to find a venue for your event, you can also ask partners to help spread the word. If you partner with a dog groomer, for example, they could use their database to let their customers know about the fundraiser. According to Gingr, businesses can leverage this software to automatically send targeted emails or text messages to these customers. Ultimately, the more people you can reach, the more likely you are to hit your fundraising goal. 


4. Gather the necessary dog wash supplies.

Now, it’s time to start gathering the supplies you’ll need to properly run your fundraiser. For an impactful event, you’ll need the following materials: 

  • A consistent water source
  • A power source (outlets)
  • Shelter from the weather (if outdoors)
  • Dog shampoo
  • Treats for dogs
  • Snacks for volunteers
  • Software to create appointments, check in dogs, process donations
  • Towels
  • Brushes and combs

In addition to these dog washing materials, you’ll also need a bevy of human volunteers to power your fundraiser. With their passion for your cause, volunteers can make the difference between a mediocre fundraiser and a rave-worthy one. Not only will they help you spread the word, organize the event, and wash the dogs, but they’ll also often become your most loyal, long-term supporters.

In many cases, you can collect in-kind dog washing material donations and find volunteers through your network of nonprofit partners and businesses. When making requests for any type of support, take time to learn about these potential donors and volunteers, share the impact their help will make, and give them enough time to consider your ask.


5. Wash the dogs! 

Now for the fun part of your dog wash fundraiser—washing dogs and raising money for your cause! Since you spent time and energy organizing volunteers, spreading the word, and arranging donations, this step should be easy. 

As you set up for the day, consider your location and available supplies to streamline the dog washing process. For instance, at the front of your event, you should have a clearly marked drop-off and pick-up location. In the back, you’ll want defined stations for washing, drying, and brushing the dogs. 

At each step, in addition to posting clear, concise signage, ensure you have a staff member or volunteer to help fundraiser participants feel comfortable entrusting you with their beloved pets.

Most importantly, throughout it all, remember to have fun! Your dog wash fundraiser is an excellent opportunity to raise money for your nonprofit while spending quality time with like-minded volunteers and quality furry friends.

After your fundraiser is over, thank participants, volunteers, and sponsors for their support. Without them, your dog wash fundraiser wouldn’t have been the wild success it was! 

Use a customer relationship manager or other software to automatically send messages to these supporters. In addition to the “thank you” itself, include information about the amount of money the fundraiser earned, the impact it will make toward achieving your mission, and additional opportunities for supporters to get involved.