Five Free Alternatives to ChipIn for Animal Rescue

If you’ve got your nose to the ground in the online animal rescue world, you’ll probably have heard the cries of outrage over the shutting down of ChipIn, the popular free fundraising tool that has allowed animal rescuers – both individuals and organizations – to raise money for the care and love of animals. Over a year ago, Chipin stopped offering support for its much-loved widget, so maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that they were bought out and shut down. Still, it’s sad, especially without any clear alternatives to turn to.

Thankfully, when I put a call out to Twitter, I came across a few good sites that might just be what we’re looking for. So without further ado, here are five free alternatives to ChipIn for animal rescue.

Five Alternatives to ChipIn

PayPal Labs Widget


For: Everyone!
What: Paypal’s nifty donation widget created by their in-beta PayPal Labs.
Pros: Customizable to adapt to your brand, extremely easy to set-up, links right to your Paypal account so no extra fees from a third party.
Cons: If you set up payment options in the dropdown, donors can’t change the amount on the next screen. If you don’t set up payment options, the dropdown is empty and useless.
My Thoughts: I’m currently using it over on Snailbird for my own fundraiser, and it’s pretty nice. I liked that it was super easy to set-up and I was able to make it look nice.
Where: PayPal Labs



For: Everyone!
What: Free online fundraising tool open to all projects.
Pros: Looks easy to customize, no website fees, super easy to set up, easy to share on social media, uses PayPal or WePay.
Cons: So far I haven’t run across anything. Let me know if you do so I can update this! I haven’t used the widget so I’m not sure if there are any bugs with it.
My Thoughts: YouCaring seems to be the answer to the ChipIn issue. And they’ve recognized it – I found out about them straight from their twitter source when I asked. I’m guessing they’re going to become pretty popular.

Original Fundraising Widget


For: Everyone!
What: Exactly what it is.
Pros: Seems pretty straight forward, looks like they have some customizing options, no fees.
Cons: The design is somewhat lacking and I’m not sure HOW customizable some of the options are. I’m not a fan of the overall design of the widgets either.
My Thoughts: Looks like it could work, though like I said before, I’m put off by the designs. They may be more customizable than they look though and if you’re not a picky designer like me, it will probably work for you.
Where: Online Fundraising Widget



For: Everyone!
What: A popular fundraising website for personal and nonprofits.
Pros: It’s pretty popular, straight-forward, easy to customize and integrate into your WordPress site (the site actually has a WP plugin for download), keeps track of your stats and metrics, allows you to run your campaign straight form your own site with the plugin, hooks up with PayPal and WePay.
Cons: HEFTY fees – 5% from every payment goes straight to them. That’s on top of the PayPal and WePay fees already. This is really the only con, but it’s big enough to stop me from using it.
My Thoughts: That 5% fee is probably one of the biggest I’ve seen in online fundraising – but they’ve got so many users that it doesn’t surprise me. Still, I’d think twice before using this site, even if their metrics ARE an amazing asset to any campaign.



For: Everyone!
What: A nifty WordPress plugin.
Pros: Integrates right into your WordPress, easy to customize, links straight to PayPal, no fees, nice simple design, easy to use.
Cons: Not sure of any – it doesn’t have an exterior page unless you make one yourself. And since it’s a WordPress plugin, you’d have to update it yourself & make sure it’s compatible with your version of WP. And it’s only for WordPress.
My Thoughts: I like this. Since I’m an avid WordPress user, this one could be pretty nifty and I’ll probably use it in the future.
Where: WordPress Plugins

Mashable also has a great roundup of fundraising tools for official nonprofit organizations so be sure to check that out as well.

I’m sure there are more alternatives out there for animal rescue folks, but these are just a few I’ve run across in the last few days. I would love to hear if you have experience with any of these and any others you’d like to share! I hope this helps as we scramble to find a replacement for ChipIn. Good luck!

Pet ‘Net: The Joys of Fostering Animals in Need

I think it’s clear if you’ve been fans of I Love Rescue Animals for even just a short time, that we’re pretty big supporters of fostering animals, which is why we’ve chosen this topic for this year’s Pet Net event put on by Petside. We have had experience both fostering through a shelter as well as just on our own, and each time we have had the pleasure of connecting a dog or cat with their own forever family. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you are not only helping an animal in need, but also a family in need.

For the Love of Fostering

I’m not going to lie. Fostering isn’t always easy. Yes, it’s more mouths to feed. Yes, you have to work to get the animal out there so they can find their forever home. Yes, you will fall in love with them and then have to let them go. Yes, it will take some time and commitment. But all of that pales in comparison to the rewards. If you’ve never fostered then it’s hard to truly describe the feeling of seeing your foster kid find their forever home. If you have, then you know it’s a feeling like no other. It’s bittersweet. You’re going to miss them, of course. We’re animal people, how can we not give our hearts to every animal that crosses our path? But you have just given that animal you love the chance to spend the rest of their life surrounded by people who will cherish them and give them the life that all animals deserve. You did that! There’s no more potent a natural high!

Former Foster Mel takes over his forever family’s shower!

Former foster Maggie Mae has full reign of her new family’s place!

Want to Foster? Here’s How!

So how do you get started? Well, if you’re like us, you kind of stumble into it. We always joke that we’re the people that have animals just come up and knock on our door. And that’s actually not far from the truth. They just find us. They scratch on our door at all hours of the night. They run down the street outside our house in the middle of a downpour. We find them hit by a car and left to die on the side of the road. We don’t have to go looking for an animal in need because they just come to us. But even if you’re not a stray animal magnet, it’s very easy to find animals to foster. Just check out any local shelter or rescue that you’re interested in helping. They will be more than happy to help you become a foster for them!

Most rescues can only help a number of animals directly proportionate to the number of fosters they have so it’s extremely important for them to continue growing their foster base. The benefit of fostering for a shelter or rescue is enormous. Most times they will pay for all of their vetting, offer support when you’re feeling lost, and set up adoption events or TV spots so you can get your foster animal seen. It can be a struggle to do that on your own, as we have discovered time and again. We are lucky to have an animal community that has donated to many chip-ins to help us care for our fosters but having a formal support system is much easier and ultimately less stressful. You can usually find plenty of information about fostering on a rescue’s website and you can often find photos of animals in need on their Facebook page or on twitter. Some rescues have forums you can sign up for where they post lists of current animals needing a foster. Or you can just go down to the shelter in person and ask about becoming a foster and look around to find your foster animal.

O’Malley is a handsome FIV+ kitty looking for his forever home in Austin, TX.

Who Should I Foster?

Not exactly sure which animals you’d like to foster? The foster coordinators will help you find animals that would be a good fit for your home! You don’t have to wake up every hour on the hour at night to bottle feed a litter of orphaned kittens to make a difference. (Hats off to those that do!) There are foster animals for every situation.

Do you have great dog training skills? Foster a dog with behavioral issues to make them more adoptable. Love cats and want to teach your children about life? Foster a pregnant momma kitty and let her have her kittens in your loving home rather than a stressful shelter. Can you only foster for a few weeks? Consider a litter of puppies who are already eating on their own but need just a few more weeks to reach the appropriate age for adoption. Are you open to a longer-term foster and can attend adoption events? Grab a “less adoptable” animal, such as one that’s older or black or special needs or a bully breed and put your full resources behind finding it the perfect home that it probably couldn’t find without you. Not really into cats or dogs? Foster a ferret, a guinea pig, a rat, a rabbit! They are out there and they need you! Every single one you help matters!

Toni is a happy-go-lucky 8 year old pit bull looking for her forever home in the Austin area.

Be Their Voice, Be Their Angel

So yes, there are plenty of excuses why you can’t foster. But none of them will matter anymore if you just try it ONCE. Yes, it will be hard to let go. You’ll miss them. Each and every one. You might say you can’t do it again. That it was too much work. Too time consuming. Too hard on your emotions. And then you’ll see that face. An older dog at the shelter whose time is running out. A bunny who has just come from a home where it never received any attention. A litter of bottle baby kittens whose only hope is a committed foster. And you’ll notice suddenly that all those thoughts fly out the window. Because you’ll realize that you are the one that is going to save that animal. You will be their guardian angel. You will be their foster parent. And both of your lives will be changed forever. For the better.

Angel is a gorgeous 6 year old pit bull looking for her forever home in Austin, TX.

The ILRA Fosters!

Did one of our fosters in this picture grab your attention? Interested in adopting one of them? Angel, O’Malley, and Toni are all looking forever homes! If you’re interested, just comment or email us with information about yourself and let us know! You could give one of these gorgeous faces a forever family all their own.

Guest Post: Reasons to Think Twice Before Gifting a Puppy for Christmas

Reasons to Think Twice Before Gifting a Puppy for Christmas

You’ve imagined the scenario for months: Your children wake up on Christmas morning, tear down the stairs as fast as they can, sprint around the corner to see the Christmas tree, and scream in delight when their eyes land on a furry little puppy adorned with a big red bow. It’s the ultimate present, and your kids are beside themselves with excitement. The moment is perfect and your heart’s full knowing you’re responsible for their sheer joy.

Then a couple weeks go by… the initial exhilaration has passed, and the puppy has proven to be a lot more work than anyone anticipated. You’re beginning to question whether your decision was realistic or if you were overcome by the romantic notion. Your worry is warranted – there are many reasons Christmas is not the ideal time to purchase a new dog. For those that have been toying with the idea of gifting a loved one with a cute little canine, consider these reasons why the holidays may not be the best time of year.

A Few Good Reasons

  • People often become so caught up in the surprise of giving a puppy that they neglect to look into the logistics. Although puppies are adorable and extremely lovable, they come with high demands. They need to be fed daily, given adequate attention and exercise, and be taken to the vet frequently for checkups and vaccinations. Similar to a child, a puppy is a life-changing decision that should not be taken lightly.
  • With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the animal won’t get the welcome it deserves. Chances are the calendar is full of things to do and people to see – which can leave the puppy lost by the wayside. Evaluate the schedule of the person you will be gifting the puppy to. Do they attend school all day? Travel often? Work long hours? If so, they are not a great candidate to own a dog. Though the gift might score you a lot of points on Christmas day, it’s unfair to the animal to live a life of isolation and boarding kennels.
  • Finances tend to be particularly tight after the Holidays. Consider your loved one’s financial situation. Animals make a big dent on the bank account, and perhaps the recipient is not equipped for their lifelong bills. As most people have just maxed out their budget for holiday expenditures, a puppy may not fit into the equation.
  • The chilly temperatures of winter may make potty training an unbearable experience. Training a new animal is no fun, and requires trips outside every few hours. In order to prevent accidents from occurring on your carpet or furniture, you’ll want to hang around with the puppy outdoors until you’ve seen its business is taken care of. This will be a miserable, grueling process if it’s going to take place in the snow. Additionally, keep in mind their bodies aren’t going to shut down just because you’re asleep – the owner will have to take the puppy out a couple times over the course of the night as well.

If you’ve done all the homework, worked out the math, and have your heart set on giving on puppy, look into all available options. Shelters are constantly full of animals looking for homes. An adopted dog may already be potty trained, house broken, and familiar with children and/or other pets. In addition, most have already had their vaccinations. Giving one of these animals a loving home for Christmas is a big decision that should be considered before you rush into it.

Tim is a dog lover and marketer for He has two black labs that he walks twice a day. He is very passionate about training dogs to be good companion while being the pack leader. He can be found on Twitter @TimLCooley or walking around town training his pups!.

Guest Post: Homeless Pets And How You Can Help Them

Homeless Pets And How You Can Help Them

Approximately 3.5 million people in the United States are homeless. This includes both those who are chronically homeless, and those who are temporarily homeless due to events like losing a job or a home foreclosure. Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of those 3.5 million people aren’t on the streets alone, but with their pets.

How does this happen? Someone may already own a pet when they’re evicted from their home, and they don’t want to give the animal up, so they keep it, even as they sleep in tents or doorways. Or, someone who is homeless may come upon a stray animal, and decide to take care of it. That a person without a home or money to buy food would take on the care of a pet is a testament to the bond people have with their pets, and to how having a pet can have a positive effect on a person’s emotional and mental state. But homeless pets are still in danger.

From MNN

Why This is a Problem

In some ways, this can be seen as a good thing. Better for someone—even someone without a home—to be looking after an animal than that animal running free where it can possibly be run over, or starve to death. The thing is, because a homeless person lacks the financial ability to properly care for a pet, there is still a danger of disease. Someone living on the street can’t afford pet meds, even common ones like flea and tick treatments or heartworm preventatives.

All it takes for a dog to get heartworm is being bitten by a mosquito carrying them. Without the proper medication, any dog living outside is vulnerable. In addition, a homeless person cannot pay to have an animal spayed or neutered, so there’s an additional risk of the homeless pet contributing to the already staggering dog and cat overpopulation problem.

How You Can Help

Because pets are seen as property, it’s not possible to simply seize an animal from a homeless person if there’s no indication of actual abuse. The truth is, most homeless people try very hard to care for their pets, sometimes using their last bit of money not to buy food for themselves, but for their pets.

Instead, you can help by donating food and supplies to help these people care for their pets until they are in a position to do so on their own. Organizations like Pets of the Homeless have set up collection points across the country to accept donations of food, treats, flea and tick treatments, leashes, and collars. Some homeless shelters and soup kitchens will sometimes also accept donations of pet food, but be sure to call and ask before simply dropping something off that may not be distributed.

By donating through a recognized and participating organization, you can be sure that your contribution will go to help the animals—and their owners—who so desperately need it. And you’ll have improved not just one life, but two.

Note from the Editor: If you’re in Austin, Texas and looking for help for either you or someone you know, Animal Trustees of Austin offers free services to homeless people and their pets. They are located on IH35 and 51st Street. Check their website or grab a card from their office!

About the Author: Caroline Ruddy is a freelance writer finally pursuing her dream of being published. She loves books and movies, especially when they include a furry friend napping on her lap. Want to write for ILRA? We’d love to here from you – find out what you can do to help!

Pet Parent Files: Colitis in Cats

If you can’t see the above video, click here to view it on YouTube.

Hey all! Sorry for the lack of content last week but we were super stressed with sick animals. I’m sure you can all relate. Anyway, we’re back this week with our newest Pet Parent File on colitis in cats. Our boy, Zane, had a bout with this back in June and we would like to share this experience with you since it was hard to find much information on what his symptoms could mean. We hope this helps you feel more informed should you experience the same problem. Please watch the video and then, if you’d like, you can look inside the cut to see litter box pictures to better understand what I’m talking about. Gross, yes, but I would much rather have you be informed than be frantically searching the internet at 2 in the morning and finding nothing.

Click here to see the Photos.

Remember, the point of our Pet Parent Files series is to help grow the base of knowledge pet parents have access to on how to properly care for their kids. So please, please comment and share any advice you have on the subject, ask any questions you have or even make your own video and post it as a response to ours!

Disclaimer: Pet Parent Files are meant to be anecdotal in nature and do not in any way serve as a diagnosis or professional opinion. Please always consult your vet when a pet is sick.