First EVER Shelter Slumber Paw-ty was a HUGE HIT!
Program Director, Laura Nelson came to me and said “I have an idea to raise some money”. I was all
ears! She wanted to sleep in a kennel at the shelter to raise money AND raise awareness about her shelter favorite, Baby Bella. Baby Bella is a pocket pittie mix (DNA results showed her at 75%+ pit bull) weighing in at a whopping 25lbs. (If you haven’t seen Baby Bella, you MUST check her out. She’s adorable and tiny!)
My thought was, why stop at just one kennel. Let’s have people stay in all of the kennels for 24 hours and ask them to help us fundraise. From Friday night at 6pm to Saturday night at 6pm, we were on lock down at the shelter! NO ONE IN OUR AREA HAS DONE THIS, IT COULD BE HUGE! We immediately got more excited and started rallying the troops. The event was planned, flyers were created and fundraising pages were getting set up. Each participant had a goal of $1000. WOW! What $13,000 would do for us right now! We thought we’d take it a step further and give ourself a long shot goal of $20,000 and ask some of our corporate supporters if they’d like to sponsor. $100 sponsorship got your name on the kennel you were sponsoring and $1000 got your name on EVERY kennel participating! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t convinced we were going to meet our $20,000 goal – we have a lot of events throughout the year and are always asking for donations.
Staff and Shelter Guardians (Shelter Guardians are volunteers paired with shelter dogs to enrich their stay by taking them to training, on outings and help promote them for adoption) were asked to participate first because they were the most familiar and comfortable with the pups at the shelter. After all, we would be snuggled up with them in a 4×6 ft space for 24 hours. At our shelter we have 13 kennels and a real life room in the basement (The real life room is a room set up like a living room to give the dogs the chance to experience life in a home.) The week before the Pawty, kennel and pup assignments were completed.
Pretty immediately, the donations started rolling in from our participants’ supporters. Some people asked family and friends, some asked business contacts and all had a Facebook campaign of some sort. People everywhere were excited! And how couldn’t you be, we were spending the night at the shelter (which has always been a secret dream of mine – no idea how it’s taken me this long to do it!)
The Slumber Pawty day arrived and I couldn’t have been more excited (again, dream coming true for me!) Local media was intrigued with our event. KSDK, FOX2, KLOU 103.3, 106.5 The Arch and Y98 all promoted it and as we started the event, we had raised over $23,000!!!! What the what! We had already met our original goal and we hadn’t even started! Now… to meet their personal goals, some of our paw-tiers agreed to do some questionable things during their live stream segments. We had folks wearing cones of shame, eating dog treats, wearing full-dog costumes, doing head stands and the list goes on and on. We rotated kennels for the live stream every 30 minutes during the day. To see some of these kennel antics, check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/gatewaypets. Things were going so well, we hesitantly raised our goal to $30,000! EEEEEEEK, could we do it?????
Morning arrived – EARLY and the pups were excited that it wasn’t just a dream and
they DID in fact get to snuggle humans all night! Some folks were a tad crabby and sore from a rough night sleep but all were ready to start the fundraising day! The live-stream shenanigans continued… more dog treat eating (by humans), visitors came by, playgroups were had and the fun wasn’t stopping! Some time in the late afternoon, we realized we were so, so close to our new goal of $30,000. Gosh, raising the last $2000-$3000 could be really hard. We’ve had so much support already! Kimmy, who had entertained the Facebook world for much of the Pawty, hopped back on the live stream and started begging for donations. She was willing to do just about anything for money at that point! 4:50 rolled around we were down to our last few hundred dollars to make $30K. I couldn’t believe it. This was happening and we still had an hour of the event! $100 donations started rolling in and it was done.