Eight Ways to Use Your Talents to Help a Shelter | Lola The Rescued Cat
Thursday, November 18, 2021

Eight Ways to Use Your Talents to Help a Shelter

The Humane Society of the United States  founded National Shelter Appreciation Week in 1995 to acknowledge and promote the role of animal shelters in our communities. During this appreciation week, people are encouraged to become acquainted with their local animal shelter and learn how they can help them in saving animals' lives.

Today we have eight ways you can use your talents to help your local shelter and show them you appreciate everything they do for the animals and your community. 

8 Ways to Use Your Talents to Help a Shelter


High quality photos help animals get adopted faster. With everything shelter staff and volunteers have to do to tend to the animals in their care on a daily basis, time may be very limited for them to actually try to take great photos of adoptable pets. A good photo of an animal will draw more attention and get more web clicks than a poor one. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to volunteer. Some people do photography as a hobby, or maybe you’re a blogger who knows how to take a great photo and edit it. Hearts Speak is a wonderful organization that helps partner photographers with shelters. They are currently working with 1/3 of the animal shelters in the U.S., but wouldn’t it be great to increase that number? 

Photo by ermaltah via Pixabay


You may be surprised at how much writing shelters do. A few examples of writing for a shelter include developing adoption profiles for pets who are up for adoption, writing pet bios for their website, and creative ways to write ads for fundraisers. Shelters can also use assistance with grant writing, which can be a tedious process. Get your creative juices flowing and think of other ways your writing skills can be put to use. I had a series on the blog a few years ago called “Will You Adopt Me?” where I showcased adoptable pets looking for their forever homes. Wouldn’t that be a great regular feature for a rescue? 

Photo by Dundanim via Shutterstock

Social Media Managers

If you have ever tried to manage several social media accounts, you know how time consuming and difficult it can be. An active social media account keeps followers interested and engaged. You don’t have to commit to running every social media profile for a shelter (which could be a full-time job in itself.) . If you’re an Instagram pro, know how to run an engaging Twitter account, or really understand the ins and outs of Facebook, offer to help a shelter with one account. High exposure on social media means a shelter can not only get more pets adopted but receive more donations as well. 


I’ve visited shelters that had beautiful murals painted by volunteers. They really brightened up the space and made it cheerful. If you’re an artist, you may want to consider creating a mural for your favorite shelter. Another way to contribute your talents is to draw portraits of the animals in the shelter that can go with them to their forever homes. What a wonderful gift for their new forever family! 

Photo by Desktop Nexux

Crafters and DIYers

Are you crafty? Put your creative skills to good use. Shelters will appreciate homemade toys, beds, and blankets. Do you know how to make a pet shirt or harness or bandana that says “Adopt Me”? These would come in handy during adoption events, or even when an animal is out for a walk or going on a vet visit. Creative crafters can probably think of 100 more ways to put their skills to use. 

Maybe you’re the go-to DIY person that friends and family call on to help organize their spaces. Some shelters have very limited storage areas and would appreciate a storage system that is neat and makes it easy to find everything they need. 

Graphic Designers and Web Designers

As someone who runs a website, I know how much time graphic and web design can take and how difficult it can be! Shelters will appreciate help getting a website up and running, as well as having it maintained. An eye-catching flyer for fundraising events, adoption events, or social media graphics for announcements will mean the world to someone who either doesn’t know how to make one or doesn’t have the time. If you notice that your local shelter doesn’t have a logo or a brand presence, put one together for them. A cohesive, appealing brand makes the shelter look professional and put together and can widen its reach on the internet.

Photo by AndrewLozovyi via Depositphotos

Animal Behaviorists/Trainers

Shelters can be a very stressful environment for animals. Fear and anxiety can, unfortunately, cause a wonderful animal to be deemed “unadoptable.” This can also lead to issues such as weight loss, aggressive behaviors, withdrawal, weight loss, over-grooming, elimination problems, and others. 

Your skills as an animal behaviorist or trainer can be very helpful to a shelter. You could assist with behavioral evaluations at intake, work with animals to destress them and decrease unwanted behaviors, and even train staff and volunteers to work with the animals. 

Photo by AnatoliYakovenko via Getty Images

Handy People

Repairs can be very expensive. If you’re handy with carpentry, plumbing, or electrical work, your skills can be very valuable to a shelter. Help with painting, putting together furniture, fixing a hole in the wall, and so many other things will be greatly appreciated. 

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We hope this post inspires you to help a shelter with your talents. If you have any other ideas on how to show your shelter your appreciation, please share them in the comments. And let us know if you volunteer for your local shelter.


About the Author:
Dawn White is an award-winning writer/blogger and the author of Lola: Diary of a Rescued Cat.  Dawn has been writing in the pet industry for over seven years and has been a contributing writer for the Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive Pro Program, BlogPaws, and Chewy.com.

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  1. These are great ideas! My human should help with training - she has trained other cats to do simple tricks, and knowing these things really stands out when adopters show up.

  2. I never thought of those things, I always figured they needed litter box scoopers, which I am a pro at - MOL!

  3. I think this is among the best set of suggestions I have seen!

  4. Those are great suggestions. I don't help out as such but we do take 4x15kg bags of dried food down to the shelter I donate to every 3 or 4 months. We went down last week and took 2 nice padded beds down as well.

  5. I agree, those are all terrific and the shelter will be most thankful for the assistance too.

  6. Those are all great ideas, though the mom says she's best at feeding and cleaning litter boxes. :) ~Ernie

  7. This is a great list! I've never thought about the "handy people" one before, but that makes total sense!

  8. This is great! I think when most people think of helping animal shelters, they just think about things like donating money or volunteering directly with the animals. But there are SO many different ways you can help, and utilizing your talents to improve the lives of animals in need is such a win-win situation!

  9. Inspired ideas. Professional people can be a big help to shelters. I know a local rescue has (or had) a talented photographer who took lovely pictures for them and I take photos of cute and wriggly kittens for my local foster network!

  10. What a great list of ways one can help out their local shelter. Some of those things wouldn't even cross my mind, but you're right about them. Great inspiration for anybody who wants to help.

  11. Luckily, we've got a bunch of those things covered with our corps for wonderful volunteers! :)

  12. These are all great ideas to help animal shelters. If I had to add an extra skill I'd also say anyone with customer service or clerical skills can help too. I actually became a volunteer for a non profit as they were in desperate need of people with these additional skills too. Thanks for sharing these suggestions. We can all help animals by using our respective talents.

  13. Great ideas and so important to ease the burden for the rescuers or shelters. I am doing the social media for a non profit at the moment and love doing it.

  14. Great suggestions! Often, the help that rescues need can seem overwhelming to them but to the right person, it's a simple task. For example, I've helped a local shelter take the information about animals for a cross-border transport and create an easy to read sheet with everything the transport drivers may need while on the road. It took me all over 10 minutes tops to get everything together but for someone that wasn't as familiar with doing that kind of work, it could have taken much longer.

  15. Those are all great ideas, and your post shows that everyone can help ! Purrs

  16. Terrific ideas! We try to support our local shelter as best we can in all those ways. Thanks for stopping by to see us and we send you a marvellously happy day1

  17. These are great ideas! I helped Anjellicle Cats Rescue in NYC collect online pledges for a couple years.

  18. Dawn these are great suggestions! I love all your ideas, they can help shelters so much.

  19. My first volunteer position was as a cat cuddler. Most shelters are also on need of dog walkers. Sadly, the staff are so busy with the day-to-day work they don't have time to connect with the animals in their care. Thank you for sharing this post.

  20. These are great suggestions! I loved walking dogs when I was volunteering at the shelter, but aside from photography, never thought about the other things a shelter might need.


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