The Ultimate List of Holiday Marketing Ideas for Animal Shelters and Rescues

The Ultimate List of Holiday Marketing Ideas for Animal Shelters and Rescues

Updated 10/16/2020

Looking for inspawration to promote your adoptable pets this holiday season? Here are some creative ideas to increase adoptions and donations.

October Shelter Social Media Ideas

Help your pets cast a spell to make adopters fall in love and want to adopt a pet.

Adopt a Kitten - kitten inside Halloween pumpkin
  • Capitalize on trending social media topics by dressing your pets in the most popular costumes of the year. (Here are predictions for 2020 from StyleCaster.) Broadcast a pet fashion show live on Facebook showcasing the costumes before Halloween.
  • Reverse Trick-or-Treat: have people bring the treats to you! Invite the public to donate cat and dog treats to your pets up for adoption. Serve simple refreshments, like apple cider and cookies, and decorate to set a festive mood.
  • Name your pets after Halloween candy. (Think Reese, Snickers, Heath, Skittles, Gumdrop…) That way, you can tell people that no matter their favorite, you’ve got it at the shelter. For bonus points, name kittens after candies with two words in the title to encourage pair adoptions. (How can you adopt Laffy without Taffy or Almond without Joy??)
Laffy Taffy Kittens - Halloween Kitten Adoption Ideas
  • Fall means Homecoming, so ask your Facebook fans to vote for a canine Homecoming King and Queen. Be sure to share your nominees’ favorite extra-curricular activities, like Varsity Tennis Ball Chasing and Choir.
  • Help potential adopters “FALL in Love with a Shelter Dog” by letting your pups romp around in a pile of autumn leaves. (This can be a fun enrichment activity for the dogs, too.)
  • Throw a Howl-O-Ween Pup Parade.
  • Name an all-white cat Catster the Friendly Feline.
  • Buy an inexpensive black plastic cauldron and create a Cauldron Full of Kittens!
  • Dress a pet in multiple costumes and let your fans vote for their favorite look in a Twitter or Instagram Story poll. It’s a simple way to engage supporters and showcase an animal for adoption.

November Shelter Social Media Ideas

Help your pets get gobbled up by adopters!

Thanksgiving Costumes for Dogs - Animal Shelter Holiday Marketing Ideas
  • Everyone deserves a good meal on Thanksgiving, including pets. Ask the public to donate Thanksgiving dinner to your animals. A pet food drive will also drive people to your facility or adoption event.
  • What are your adoptable pets thankful for? Share photos of them with signs that say “I’m thankful for my foster family” or “I’m thankful for my squeaky chicken.”
  • Does your organization offer programs for children? Have kids write Thank You notes to your adopters. This is a great lesson in gratitude for the kids and a special memento for adopters to keep.
  • Daylight Saving Time ends on November 1. Post a sleepy kitten the day before to remind people to stay in bed.
  • Encourage your adopters to enter the Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays #IChoseToRescue Contest. Not only is this great word-of-mouth marketing for your organization, you’ll also be entered for the chance to win a $1,000 donation!

December Shelter Social Media Ideas

All she wants for Christmas is a forever home.

Adoptable a Cat - Cat wearing antlers for Christmas, holiday
  • December 1 is #GivingTuesday. As this global day of giving has grown, so has the competition for donations. You need to stand out and provide a smooth customer experience to maximize success.
    • Make sure your Donation page is up-to-date and in working order.
    • Pick a compelling story to share on all your social media accounts.
    • Ask your volunteers to share your donate link and social media posts, too!
Giving Tuesday tips for animal shelters
  • Find an eager volunteer, borrow a Santa suit, and invite people to bring their pets to pose with St. Nick. You don’t even need to take the photos; simply provide the photo opportunity and allow people to take pictures with their phones (for a donation.) Pictures with Santa are expensive, so they’ll be thrilled to be getting a deal and supporting your shelter.
  • ‘Tis the season of giving! Put up a tree, hang some stockings, and invite the public to bring donations. They can stuff the stockings with toys and treats, and put larger items — like big bags of pet food — under the tree. They’ll leave with a feeling of cheer, and you’ll have a fresh stash of supplies.
  • Create an “Angel Tree” with pictures of pets in need and what they each want for Christmas. Families can select a pet and fulfill their holiday wishes.
  • Get creative and have your adoptable pets write their New Year’s Resolutions. For a senior cat, maybe it’s nap 20 hours a day in my forever home, or run a 5K with my new owner for an athletic pup. It will help potential adopters picture these pets in their lives. Cheers!
Cat and Dog Happy New Year's Costumes

Make It A Date!

Has your idea well run dry when it comes to social media? Use offbeat holidays and monthly observances to get your creative juices flowing. This kind of content will keep your accounts current and relevant, and give your fans an easy way to engage with you. Here are a few ideas (minus the major holidays):

2020 Pet Holidays: October, November, December

October: Adopt a Shelter Pet Month

  • National Pet Wellness Month
  • National Pit Bull Awareness Month
  • National Animal Safety and Protection Month

October 1: National Black Dog Day

October 1: National Fire Pup Day

October 1: International Coffee Day

October 1-6: National Walk Your Dog Week (Come walk a shelter dog!)

October 1-6: Animal Welfare Week

October 4: World Animal Day

October 4: National Taco Day

Cat Taco Costume

October 7-13: Animal Welfare Week

October 9: Pet Obesity Awareness Day

October 11-17: National Veterinary Technician Week

October 14: National Dessert Day

October 15: National Pug Day

October 16: National Feral Cat Day

October 17: National Fetch Day

October 17: Sweetest Day

October 19: National New Friends Day

October 21: Reptile Awareness Day

October 21 is National Reptile Awareness Day - bearded dragons

October 21: National Pets for Veterans Day

October 24: Make a Difference Day

October 26: National Pit Bull Awareness Day

October 26: National Pumpkin Day (An excuse to post more Halloween pictures!)

October 27: National Black Cat Day (UK)

October 29: National Cat Day

October 31: Halloween

November: Adopt a Senior Pet Month

  • Pet Diabetes Month
  • Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November 1: National Cook for Your Pets Day

November 2-6: National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

November 3: Election Day

November 7: National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day

November 12: Fancy Rat and Mouse Day

November 13: World Kindness Day

November 17: National Black Cat Day (US)

November 17: National Take a Hike Day

November 27: Turtle Adoption Day

December: National Cat Lovers’ Month

December 2: National Mutt Day

December 4: World Wildlife Conservation Day

December 5: International Volunteer Day

December 5: International Ninja Day (Have some fun with your black cats!)

December 10: International Animal Rights Day

December 13: National Day of the Horse

December 15: National Cat Herder’s Day

December 18: National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (Dress up, anyone?)

Ugly Christmas Sweaters for Dogs

Search hundreds more quirky calendar dates here.

TIP: Always include the hashtag (i.e. #nationalcatday) to be part of the national conversation.

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