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!

O’Malley’s Day at the Vet

Hey everyone. As some of you already know from Facebook & twitter, I had to take O’Malley to the vet today. See, two days ago he threw up clear liquid, probably water. There were no problems yesterday but when I went in to feed him this morning, there was another large puddle of clear liquid. I cleaned it up and since he still acted hungry, I fed him. He only ate half of it and then threw up his partially digested food maybe 20 minutes later. At that point I called the vet and got him an appointment for tomorrow morning, with her saying if he got worse that they’d fit him in today. Well 5 minutes later he threw up again so I called and she told me to bring him in. All this time I was trying to keep Nikki up to speed via IM while she was at work and was crying because, like you, I hate when my kids are sick. O’Malley being a foster makes no difference. He is our kid until he finds his forever home! So off I go to the vet, after asking for some pawcircle and healing thoughts from our friends and followers.

At the Vet

After a lot of questions, Dr. Jill, our amazing vet, decided to run some bloodwork on him. With cats vomiting like this, it’s always very important to check for signs of pancreatitis. This is a very dangerous inflammation of the pancreas that our youngest cat, Satsuki, had after eating some crappy cat food as a treat. She had to stay overnight on fluids and all sorts of medications and it’s very scary. Come to think of it, I should make a Pet Parent Files about it. Anyway, that was our first concern. Vomiting can also dehydrate a cat very quickly so he was given a bubble of subcutaneous fluids to help rehydrate him. O’Malley’s bloodwork came back all normal. Like nothing out of the ordinary which is good. Dr. Jill ran some extra set of tests to check for all the levels that could suggest organ issues. So it looks like his pancreas, liver, kidneys, fluids, all that is good. Then they took him for X-rays to see if he had an obstruction, such as some string or a toy or anything he might have ingested. We were pretty sure this wasn’t it but you can never tell. Even when you think you’re keeping a good eye on cats, they can still be sneaky. They took two X-rays and Dr. Jill didn’t see anything obvious on them.

The Diagnosis

So it doesn’t look like he has pancreatitis and it doesn’t look like he has an obstruction. This is good news. For now his diagnosis is gastritis. So, the lining of his stomach is inflamed. Of course, this doesn’t mean we know the cause. That’s the problem with symptoms – they can mean so many different things. Anyway, we’re assuming something has upset his stomach but not caused pancreatitis. So Dr. Jill gave him 3 shots. One was an anti-nausea injection so that will hopefully make him feel better. The second was an antacid to calm his stomach if anything is going on in there. And the third was an anti-inflammatory injection. I believe it was a steroid injection, just a small dose. This is in case there is some inflammation going on in his pancreas. Just in case it’s still there and not showing up in the bloodwork. That’s how serious you have to take pancreatitis. But other than that, she sent him home with a bland, prescription diet food to give him for a few days to help calm whatever may have been upsetting his stomach. We just have to feed him a little tonight and watch him for vomiting. If he does, we take him back in the morning for, I assume, more tests and more medication. If not, then we keep watching him and hope everything returns to normal.

So, yes. Please keep him in your thoughts! I know he’s felt all the love pouring in for him already! As always we’d like to thank the wonderful Dr. Jill and the nice people at Animal Care Clinic in Round Rock for caring for our kids and helping us with the cost of fosters when they can!

How You Can Help!

The total bill for all of this came to $314 (you can see a copy of the bill here). Normally Nikki and I try to raise the money in advance since we learned the hard way you can’t always make it back up. In an emergency, though, you just can’t wait. We then just try to pay for it out of our own pockets and raise money. This time we didn’t have enough, both of our bank accounts combined, so we applied for Care Credit and put it on that. We’d like to be able to pay it off before we accrue interest (26%, Yikes!). So yes, it would be wonderful if y’all could help us raise the money for this. O’Malley will also need his routine vaccinations when he’s feeling better. Thank you for your continued support. Know that it makes a difference in all of their lives! Toni & the kittens (Maggie Mae & Mel) have loving homes because you helped them out until they found their forever families. We really appreciate it!

As you can see, the ChipIn amount is for $325. This is because his clinic exam and vaccinations from Animal Trustees of Austin is $34. We only added $10 to the amount though because Jenn McKibbin donated the first $25 to O’Malley’s vet care. The direct link to the ChipIn is here. Thank you again, from us and O’Malley.

O’Malley’s Story

You can check out all of our foster O’Malley’s story here (or start here for the first chapter). He’s had a rough road, but full of love and support. And he’s looking for a forever home. Check out his video below.

Thank you!

Please Help Our Sweet Merlin

A Plea for Merlin

Hi everyone. This is strange for me because we have never asked for money for our own kids before. It has always been for fosters and even then only when we really needed the help. We have shared many ChipIns for other people’s personal pets but we have always tried to just muddle through on our own when it came to us. But this time, we really need your help.

As some of you may know, on Monday night, around midnight, Merlin had a seizure. It was one of the scariest things of my life and even as I was going through the motions of finding & calling the emergency vet and driving us there, it was like I was in a daze. I was shaking the entire time, even making signing for his care at the clinic difficult. My heart beat didn’t slow down for nearly 24 hours. Seriously.

Merlin had to have blood work done and had to stay at the clinic overnight to be monitored. That bill came to $368. When we picked him up in the morning, we took him to our regular vet. She watched him for us that day for free, because she is wonderful, but we still had the exam fee and she also did an FIV/FelV combo test on him. That bill came to $80. So we spent a total of $448 in less than 24 hours. We had to and we don’t regret it. Merlin is one of our children and we will do everything we can for him. But that was money we barely had.

Our vet recommended that we take him to a cardiologist to get an echocardiogram on him as the next step to diagnosing what may have caused his seizure. There are so many potential causes for seizures that it’s crazy. Our vet feels that, due to his history, the echo is the next best step instead of just blindly guessing and doing expensive titers. The echo should give our vet an idea of where to start looking. Besides, Merlin has needed an echocardiogram since last year.

A Little Backstory

Back in May of last year, right after our move, Merlin went into a terrible downward spiral. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Merlin wasn’t even 3 years old yet and was at death’s door. Our vet gave us medication to help his heart and to get the huge amount of fluid off his chest but we were basically told to take him home and give him comfort as he died. He could have a heart attack at any moment. We took him home and kept him next to us for days. Every time he had a panic attack because he couldn’t breathe due to the fluid on his chest, we cried and told him he could go if it hurt too bad. Every night before we went to sleep, we told him we loved him and said our goodbyes. Every time we woke up during the night to check on him our chests were tight as we strained to see if he was still breathing. And every time he was. And every day he grew stronger. And ate more. And got irritated with us being so concerned over him. And slowly, slowly, we weaned him off of the high dose of the Lasix (fluid medication). When we first brought him home, he was on SIX a day! Now, for several months, he has been maintained on only 1 Lasix a day as well as his 1/4 of Amlodipine (heart medication).

Until this seizure, our boy was back to being his usual self and you couldn’t even tell he had a problem. He eats & plays & causes mischief. Our vet was amazed at how good he looked when we took him in the other day and couldn’t stop saying it. Merlin fought hard & we fought hard and we are not giving up! If this is what Merlin needs, then he will get it! But we need your help. We are tapped out and this is not something that can wait. I have an appointment scheduled for him next week on Tuesday, Feb. 28th.

We Need Your Help!

So we have 5 days to raise $450. Please help us if you can. We will be eternally grateful. We put a lot into the animal welfare world and now we need to ask for a little back. But I swear to you that we will give it back again 10 fold. Animals are our lives. And this boy is our baby. Please help us find out what is wrong with him so we can make his life as good as it can possibly be! Thank you!

You can also check out the ChipIn page.

Everyone who donates will get a thank you from us on this post, on our Facebook (2170 fans) and on our twitter (18,500 followers). If you want us to link to your twitter account, be sure to give it to us in the notes of your donation. If you have a business that you’d like to promote on ILRA, NOW is the time to do it! We are offering 3 months of advertising, normally $255 for only $200 if you mention that you’re doing it for Merlin. And I’ll throw in a shout out on FB & twitter as well because we will be so appreciative! Is there anything else you want me to do for you in exchange for helping Merlin? Just ask and we’ll see what we can do. We have to do this for our boy. So please, please, help him. Thank you.

Thank you to these wonderful donors:

Stephanie Minck of
Winnie Pickens
Kayla Spencer
Cain Demumbra
Stefan Schindler
Leslie Olyott
Rhonda Pickens
Jennifer Kelly
Patty White
Emily Jeske
Will Shoucair
Lost And Found Dog Rescue Adoption Center
Mackenzie Case

Please help Sam, one of our September Shelter Sketches

Hi everyone, this is Chelsea. You might remember Sam, whose sketch I drew in September of this year. He was heartworm positive when Noah’s Ark Rescue took him in, and he and six other HW-positive dogs desperately need our help! Here’s the story from NAR:

For those of you that don’t know this already, we have been unable to get Immiticide which is the treatment for dogs that are high Heartworm Positive. Merial, which is the manufacturer of Immiticide had to quit production this year due to problems at their plant. Immiticide is the only proven treatment for dogs that are on the high positive list to rid their bodies of the worms. We have been doing a slow kill on all of the animals while we were waiting for Immiticide to come back into distribution. Surgery is an option but only for dogs where the worms have invaded the valves in the heart. None of our dogs have reached that point or we would have already had the surgery on them. The European division of Merial still produces Immiticide. It has been approved for the European market but has not been approved for the USA market. It takes years to get the FDA to do the necessary studies for any product to be approved. The products are identical. After thorough tests we now feel confident the product is the same as the original product Merial manufactured here. An animal has to be in the late stage of Heartworm Disease to be eligible for the treatment. All of the above dogs are eligible and have been approved for the treatment based on their medical history and the fact they will eventually die from the disease without the treatment. The product is given based on weight and is very expensive. We do not take Immiticide treatment lightly because of all the side effects it can have. It needs to be done in a calm controlled medical environment where the dogs are kept quiet and closely monitored. That is what we have arranged for each animal. Please, help us raise the funds so each one of these special animals can live a long healthy life free of heartworms and the pain and suffering they cause.

I know the holiday season is a difficult time for everyone, money-wise, but you might consider donating to these amazing dogs in someone’s name – what an awesome gift! 🙂 Here’s the donation link and more information.


Helping Animals in Need in the Central Texas Fires

*** Updated Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We need rain here in Texas. Badly.

That’s a picture from Big Dog Rescue’s Facebook page. They’re located in the Austin area, and their Vice President just had her house burned down and they’re looking for fosters to take in animals displaced. The Bastrop County Animal Shelter was evacuated as well and thanks to the awesome folks at Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Humane Society, all the animals were saved and they’re looking for donations and temporary fosters. You can find more detailed things they need by going to their facebook pages:

*** Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter needs fosters ASAP! They took in 15 dogs from the Leader Fire and have run out of space. Please check out their facebook page for more updated information. If you’re a shelter/rescue/someone looking to adopt, please help them out!

If you haven’t heard, Central Texas is being hit HARD with fires right now. The biggest being the one in Bastrop that has burned up to 25,000 acres since yesterday, jumped the Colorado River twice, and has desecrated more than 300 houses. Over 5,000 people have been evacuated so far, and a mother and her 18-month-old child were killed. The winds from the recent hurricane aren’t helping. You can keep updated about the fires by checking the Austin Statesman.

We are located in east Austin and while the fires are supposedly moving away from us, we’ve still come up with our evacuation plan (packing up 20 animals is no easy feat). Standing outside in our front yard, the smell of smoke is strong. It’s scary. If we didn’t have so many fosters already, I know we’d both be at the shelter taking in animals right now. I’ll be continually nagging friends all day to make sure they’re okay.

Please send good thoughts, positive vibes, and lots of rain.

*** We will be updating our twitter account with information as we get it. Follow @RescueAnimals on Twitter!