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How to Host a Cutest Pet Contest

This fundraising idea is versatile in terms of when, where, and how you conduct it. Depending on how much time and effort you have on your hands, you can either host the contest online or in person.

Host Virtually

To host a cutest pet contest virtually, just ask your supporters to submit photos of their pet via email, your website, or your social media channels. For this method, you can create a longer timeline to enter their pet in the contest, giving them plenty of time to choose the most adorable pictures of their pets. Your will also accrue more participants over time than you could at a one-day event.

Since virtual events tend to feel more disconnected, try to add a synchronous element to cap off the contest. Schedule a video call to announce and celebrate the contest winners. A celebratory virtual meeting incentivizes people to enter and adds an element of suspense and community.

Host In-Person

You can also choose to make a one-day event out of the contest by holding it in person. Choose a park or other outdoor venue where participants — and their pets, of course — can gather together. While in-person events take more time and effort, they are a great place for connection.

After deciding whether to host on or offline, finalize other logistical decisions. You’ll need to settle on an entry fee for participants based on factors like food and venue expenses and the projected size of your event. You should also appoint a few team members to serve on the contest’s judging panel.

5 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Cutest Pet Contest

1. Create different categories.

Think up some different categories for the contest. You can separate entries by the type of animal. For example, have cat, dog, and reptile categories. Alternatively, you could develop some more creative categories like “Most Mischievous” or “Cutest Senior Cat.”

Different categories expand which pets are eligible for the contest and create more opportunities to win. Your supporters can enter the contest whether they have a troublemaking tabby cat or elderly gecko.

2. Find event sponsors to increase your revenue.

If you choose to host in-person, you’ll want to make sure your ROI is sufficient to cover any costs you incur. Funds will depend on how many participants your event has, and it may be hard to predict totals. To give yourself a cushion, try recruiting sponsors for your event.

To find event sponsors, begin searching through your existing supporter base for any local businesses that love animals. Once you’ve exhausted this avenue, look for businesses in your area with similar values. For a cutest pet contest, you could consider asking local pet stores, dog groomers, or veterinary offices.

3. Promote the event.

You want your contest — whether online or in-person — to have a large turnout. Marketing these events can expand your reach to new audiences and get existing supporters pumped up about your mission.

It’s best to start marketing the contest at least two months before the date winners will be announced. Giving your supporters a heads up about dates and times means they will be able to make space for the event on their calendars. Prioritize practices like promoting your contest on social media and creating flyers and posters to post around the community.

4. Ask your supporters to weigh in.

Another way to boost the donations you receive from the contest is to ask other supporters to vote for their favorite pets. This can work whether the event is virtual or in-person. If your supporters are deciding on winners, you won’t need to organize a judging panel which frees up some of your volunteers.

If you ask for a small donation from voters, either a one-time fee or a donation per vote, you could increase your ROI. You could also boost engagement and attendance since supporters who didn’t enter the contest can still participate.

5. Research your venue.

If you are planning to host an in-person event, researching the venue itself is imperative. First and foremost, check that the venue allows pets. Make sure to ask about any additional rules or guidelines the venue has regarding animals.

After researching your venue’s rules and policies, make sure to communicate any that are relevant to your attendees. Communicate the venue’s requirements like leashing dogs or picking up after pets. Most of the time, these rules are put in place for safety or property maintenance reasons, so following them is best for everyone involved.

Who Hosts Cutest Pet Contests?

While hosting an animal-themed fundraiser like a cutest pet contest might seem like something just for animal-oriented nonprofits, any organization that loves animals can take advantage of this idea. After all, who doesn’t want to see dozens of adorable pets?

Here a few kinds of organizations that can host a cutest pet contest:

  • Animal shelters and humane societies
  • Nonprofit veterinary clinics
  • Mission-based zoos
  • Wildlife conservation organizations
  • Environmental nonprofits
  • Schools
  • Churches

Even if your organization isn’t listed here, don’t be afraid to host a cutest pet contest — chances are your supporters love animals no matter what your mission is about.