Give a different gift this year

We’ve found a few fantastic ways for you to give a different gift this year…

29th November 2023

Traditionally, the festive season is a time for giving – whether that’s giving thanks, giving gifts, or giving in to the temptation of tasty food! Though have you ever considered a different type of generosity?

Sadly, the cost-of-living crisis has plunged many animal charities into financial difficulty, leaving them struggling to stay afloat. Luckily, there are ways to help.

In case you’re still searching for the pawfect present, we’ve found a few fantastic ways for you to give a different gift this year…

Please remember that animals are part of the family, and require lifelong commitment, so they should never be given as gifts – even if they’ve been adopted through a charity.

Make a donation

Making a donation to support your local animal charity or gifting one on behalf of a friend or family member is an amazing act of kindness.

By helping an pet rescue centre close to your heart (and address!), your donation directly supports the all-important care of an animal still waiting to find their furever home. 

The costs of caring for an animal will vary greatly, depending on where a charity is located and the needs of the pet; there’ll also be additional bills for heating, water, electricity, and repairs. There will be costs for vet treatment, basic equipment (e.g. beds/blankets, food bowls/buckets, toys, etc.), and, of course, the time invested in taking care of rescued animals, too.

But, to give you an idea of the very basic costs taken on by charities, on behalf of the animals in their care, here’s a breakdown:

Basic costs of caring for a dog

  • Daily cost of food = £2+
  • Monthly cost of flea/worming treatment = £15+
  • Yearly cost of vaccinations and a vet health check = £70+
  • Microchip = £15+

Basic costs of caring for a cat

  • Daily cost of food = £2+
  • Daily cost of cat litter = £1+
  • Monthly cost of flea/worming treatment = £10+
  • Yearly cost of vaccinations and a vet health check = £70+
  • Microchip = £20+

Basic costs of caring for a horse

  • Weekly cost of food (hay and hard feed, without supplements) = £25+
  • Weekly cost of bedding = £30+
  • Monthly cost of livery (rent for stable and field) = £200+
  • Regular cost of worming treatment = £50+
  • Regular cost of farrier appointments (without horseshoes) = £30+
  • Yearly cost for dental appointments (without sedation) = £80+
  • Yearly cost of vaccinations and a vet health check = £90+
  • Microchip = £30+

Ask for a donation instead of a gift

Looking for a reason to feel good or wanting to end the year by making a difference? Instead of spending the new year decluttering your home, why not ask for a present with a purpose?

Asking loved ones to donate to a cherished charity, in your name, is the purrfect alternative to a present this festive season! 

Sponsor an animal

Whether you’re searching for something special to give a loved one, or you fancy treating yourself to a pawesome present this year, why not sponsor an animal?
Once you sponsor an animal in their care, a charity will usually provide you with a certificate, along with sending regular updates about their progress. Some charities may send you gifts – like plush toys or keyrings – that relate to your sponsored animal, which is ideal if your gift is for a young person!

While there are far too many options to list here, you could contact your favourite, local animal rescue heroes to ask about their sponsoring schemes. 

Don’t forget: You could stick to sponsoring a dog, cat, or horse – though there’s options for sponsoring rescued farm animals, wildlife, or small animals, as well!  
If you’re unable to dedicate monthly or yearly resources to sponsor an animal, you can get involved in festive giving through events like Christmas shoebox appeals.

All you need to do is search online, or contact your local charity, to discover the many ways you can make a difference this Christmas.

Sponsor a kennel, cattery, or stable

Can’t choose which amazingly brave animal to sponsor for the festive season? You could still help a rescued animal enjoy comfort, love, and care, by sponsoring a kennel, cattery, or stable instead. 

Through sponsoring a place for rescued animals to stay, you’re contributing towards their welfare in a truly meaningful way.

When an animal charity offers the option to sponsor a kennel, cattery, or stable, they’ll usually give you: 

  • An official sponsorship certificate.
  • Updates about who’s currently staying in your sponsored safe haven.
  • Opportunities to meet their super special residents!

Buy presents from a charity

In their efforts to fundraise, most charities have their own online stores or charity shops. 

Perhaps you could surprise a loved one with a preloved gift from an animal welfare charity’s shop? 

Alternatively, find a charity-branded present through their online store, then have it delivered directly to your loved one’s door! 

Donate unwanted items

Donating unwanted items is another wonder-fur-l way to help your local animal rescue heroes this festive season.

There are a few ways to find out which items an animal rescue charity might need:

  • Contact the charity directly.
  • Check the charity’s website.
  • View their social media pages for public appeals about donations.

What to donate to rescue centres

Every animal rescue centre will have different requests for unwanted items, so, before travelling to take your items to them, it’s worth contacting the charity first.

Examples of (clean, safe-to-use, undamaged) items often requested by rescue centres:

  • Plastic dog beds.
  • Soft dog or cat beds.
  • Harnesses and waterproof coats.
  • Pet toys and puzzle feeders.
  • Food and water dishes.
  • Blankets and sheets.
  • Grooming equipment.
  • Towels.
  • Cooling mats.
  • Litter trays.

What NOT to donate to rescue centres

Unfortunately, many rescue centres are unable to use certain items due to safety restrictions, which can lead to them having to turn down donations.

Here are some of the items most animal rescue centres won’t be able to accept:

  • Dirty and/or damaged items.
  • Open bags or tins of food.
  • Newspapers.
  • Pillows and cushions.
  • Duvets.
  • Pet carriers.
  • Medications.
  • Shampoos and soaps.

If you’re unsure whether the types of items you’d like to donate will be accepted by your local rescue centre, please contact them before your visit.

What to donate to animal charity shops

Christmas, and other festivities at this time of year, can often lead to a lot of clutter in our homes. So, why not donate any unwanted or unused items to your local animal charity shop?

Any donated item should be clean and in good condition, to allow a charity shop the best chance of selling it on!

Some of the items charity shops tend to request include:

  • Designer-branded clothing and accessories.
  • Clothing and accessories (like handbags and scarves).
  • Ornaments.
  • Jewellery.
  • Books.
  • DVDs.

Please note: Charity shops are unlikely to accept donations of items meant for use in rescue centres, e.g. towels, litter trays, grooming equipment, etc. 

Again, if you’re unsure about the items they accept, please contact your local charity shop before dropping off a donation.

Watch their wishlists

A lot of us are likely to surf the web for Christmas gifts this year. But did you know that many animal charities post wishlists on websites like Amazon?

While you’re busy building your basket, it’d mean so much to your local animal rescue if you could purchase a present or two from their wishlist!

Plus, purchasing something for a charity’s wishlist usually means that item will be delivered directly to them – saving the fuss of redelivering the gift yourself. 

Your chosen charity might even post about your generous donation on their social media pages, allowing you to see the incredible impact your kindness has had. 

Donate while you shop

For those who prefer the bustling excitement of Christmas shopping in person to internet shopping, there are often options to donate to animal charities in local supermarkets. 

As you meander through the aisles, adding a tin of cat food or bag of dog biscuits to your trolley takes seconds. Yet popping your chosen item(s) into an animal charity’s donation box, after you’ve paid, will help a rescued animal enjoy a more magical Christmas Day! 

Fundraise for a charity

Since the festive season is a time to make memories with family and friends, why not set up a fundraising event with them?

Your fundraising efforts could be epic (like a group skydive), low-key, or challenging (like a sweet ban until Christmas Day with a ‘failure forfeit’) – though they must be fun!

In case you’re stuck for ideas, here are several suggestions for family-friendly fundraising activities:

  • Quiz night – ‘winning team’ decides the charity to receive a donation.
  • ‘Bake off’ competition – ‘winner’ chooses which charity to donate to.
  • Game night – ‘loser’ of each game donates a set amount.
  • Secret Santa – donate the money for presents you didn’t buy.

If you’d prefer to get outside for your family-friendly fundraising activities, you could raise money for charity through:

  • A car boot sale.
  • Bake sale.
  • Community raffle.

For those who want to get involved in sponsored events, that require a little extra prep, there’s:

  • Skydiving.
  • Boxing Day swims.
  • Christmas-themed walks (with or without your canine companion).

Top tip: Let your local animal rescue charity know how you’re planning to fun-draise for them, so they can feature your event on their socials and/or website, to inspire others!

Volunteer your time

From cleaning kennels to cuddling kittens, there are countless ways to gift your time to local animal rescue charities who need a helping hand!

Just a small selection of volunteering opportunities to choose from include:

  • Fostering an animal who’s awaiting their forever home.
  • Taking a dog from your local rescue centre for a walk.
  • Cleaning kennels, catteries, or stables.
  • Assisting with the creation of social media content.
  • Working in an animal rescue’s charity shop.

Please note: If you have specific skills (e.g. as a canine behaviourist or accountant), smaller charities are likely to be grateful for the donation of your time in a professional capacity. 

We realise this time of year can be costly for most, which means it might not be manageable to spend money on supporting charities right now. And while we’re busy planning for festivities, it might also be tough to find time to dedicate to helping charities directly. But, don’t fur-get that animal rescue charities need suppawt all year ‘round… 

So, why not get ahead of next year’s resolutions by preparing to sponsor an animal, booking time to volunteer, or organising fabulous fundraising activities for your favourite animal charity? 

However you decide to support rescue centres and animal charities, this festive season and beyond, we’re sending our heartfelt thank you on their behalf!