More than 181 million people visit zoos and aquariums on an annual basis, and 79% of those zoo-goers feel better about companies that support wildlife conservation through zoos and aquariums.  

That’s 149,990,000 potential donors –– half who are likely to have been visiting since they were children –– with direct interest across the United States. 

So, what exactly can you do, as a zoo or aquarium, to get people invested to help further your conservation and education efforts? 

Ask for local support. 

Start right with your community. Ask local businesses for donations, sponsorships, or help to promote your upcoming fundraising events, workshops, awareness campaigns, etc. In turn, ask about ways your zoo or aquarium can help them. Hosting a cocktail hour? Ask the local brewery if they’ll be a vendor. Employee pizza party? Ask the pizzeria if they’ll cater.  

Ways that local businesses can support your zoo or aquarium: 

zoo fundraiser

  1. In-kind donations 
  2. Direct donations 
  3. Sponsorships 
  4. Portions of proceeds going to your organization  
  5. Donation boxes in stores 
  6. In-store ticket sales for your next event 
  7. Display educational posters

Throw fundraising parties. 

Fundraising parties can be anything from a park picnic with a donation basket, to a fancy gala, and all sorts of festivities in between. It can be simple or extravagant, but the important part is the notion of building community and financial support for the zoo or aquarium.  

Wild fundraising ideas that are specific to zoos or aquariums include: 

  1. Adopt an animal
  2. Sponsor an exhibit/habitat
  3. Commemorative bricks or tiles
  4. Animal trivia (ticketed event, can be held for children or adults) 
  5. Scavenger hunt within the zoo itself 
  6. Photography exhibition 
  7. Polar bear plunge (but the one for people who run and jump in a cold ocean!) 
  8. Adults only, after hours 
  9. A day with the trainers (sea lions, penguins, dolphins, elephants, etc.)

Raise money for endangered animals. 

Endangered species are a cause greater than just one zoo, aquarium, organization, a human being…or anything singular, really. Building a campaign around an endangered species is valuable for raising funds for conservation efforts, but also an opportunity for awareness and education.  aquarium fundraiser

This sort of campaign can include: 

  1. Classes for children 
  2. A fundraiser partnering with a larger organization (World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, etc.) 
  3. PSAs across local media 
  4. Social media campaign driven by photos and a selected hashtag 


Do you have questions you need to unleash? 
Let’s talk about further fundraising.  


Kelsey Woodworth