Holidays are a time of giving, not only through selecting gifts for our family and friends but by giving back to the causes that are important to us. Maybe you’re passionate about helping homeless dogs and cats or working to protect wild animals and their habitats. Even if you’re already a dedicated volunteer or regularly donate to organizations, the holidays are a time where we can give a little extra, and inspire others to do the same.

Giving back not only helps organizations by providing them the supplies and funds they need to carry out important work, but it raises awareness about issues like pet homelessness, wildlife protection, habitat destruction, and other struggles domestic and wild animals face worldwide. Every effort matters when it comes to making the world a better place for animals, and there are several ways you can help make a difference.

1. Start a Donation Drive

Donation drives are a fun way to collect items for your favorite organization. Keep a donation bin at your school or office, or offer to pick up donations from friends and family. Share a list of the donations you’re looking for and ask people to share it far and wide.

Items commonly needed include:

  • Old, clean towels and blankets
  • New or gently used collars, harnesses, and leashes
  • Dry or canned food
  • Treats
  • Toys, including those that can be stuffed with food or treats
  • Clumping and non-clumping cat litter
  • Gift cards for pet supply stores
  • New or gently used travel crates

Farm and wild animal sanctuaries typically have different needs than animal shelters, and they can often benefit more from monetary donations to purchase items like hay, straw and bedding, and fresh foods and supplements to meet the unique dietary needs of the animals. If you’re not sure of what items are needed, contact a representative from the organization or visit their website to check for a “wish list” of items.

2. Plan a Fundraiser to Save Animals and Wild Habitats  

6 Ways You Can Give Back to Animals Over the Holidays


Help domestic and wild animals by starting an online fundraiser for your favorite organization. Funds are always needed for food and supplies, housing, and to provide medical treatment to prepare animals for adoption.

Organizations working to protect wild animals and their habitats also rely heavily on donations to educate the public about habitat destruction, protect critical habitats, provide places of refuge for wild animals, and fight against poaching and exploitation.  You can use an online fundraising site or work with the organization to arrange direct donations.

3. Volunteer

The holidays can be a busy time for most people, but we can all take a break from the holiday madness to help animals in need. Take a few hours to walk dogs at a shelter or help socialize shy cats and kittens, or offer to help care for animals at an area farm sanctuary. Turn volunteering into a family activity by spending an afternoon together volunteering. It’s a great excuse to beat cabin fever while doing something for your community. Volunteering is also a fun way to teach children about compassion towards animals and the importance of community involvement.

4. Provide a Temporary Foster Home for Homeless Pets

Animals are in need of rescue year-round, but the chaos of the season often means fewer foster homes are available. If you don’t have travel plans for the holidays, consider providing a temporary foster home or offer to take care of someone’s foster pet while they’re away.

If you plan to bring a foster pet into your home over the holidays, provide them with a quiet place to hang out while you have guests over. Being in a new place is scary, and combining that with a lot of noise and unfamiliar faces can cause added stress. And since they’re in an unfamiliar area, it’s important to take extra precautions to prevent accidental escapes through open doors as guests come and go.

5. Adopt Or Sponsor an Animal in Need

6 Ways You Can Give Back to Animals Over the Holidays


One of the best gifts you can give a homeless pet is to provide them with a home. There are millions of dogs, cats, and small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs waiting in shelters for a family to love them. If you know of a family that is thinking about getting a pet, consider offering to cover the adoption fee as a gift.

If physically adopting an animal isn’t an option, you can always give the gift of virtual adoption. Both shelters and wild animal sanctuaries allow people to virtually adopt or sponsor an animal, and your donation will go towards food, housing, and medical needs for the animal you choose.

The animals are counting on us to protect them. You can make a lasting impact by choosing to give this holiday season and beyond.

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