From CuteOverload.com to celebrities toting pets like accessories, it’s never been more trendy to be an animal lover. But few people put their money where their mouth is like the members of the Etsy for Animals team, which has raised hundreds of dollars for pet shelters, wildlife refuges and other animal charities around the country.
Every month, EFA randomly chooses one member, and devotes the entire month to raising money for that member’s favorite charity. (This month, it’s Town Cats of Ocean City, chosen by tackybackintime.) Members make donation pledges at the beginning of the month, and all proceeds from the EFA’s Etsy shop — a meeting point for pet-loving buyers browsing animal-themed items — add to the total.
But that’s just the beginning of the group’s pet-friendly philanthropy. Members keep each other posted on animal needs in their part of the world through email and Flickr postings, generating plenty of extra-curricular donations of money, goods and services. Whenever a local SPCA needs gift bag goodies or an animal activist group is collecting petition signatures, EFA is quick to spread the word — and with nearly 300 members, the potential to make a difference is huge. "A small donation from each sale can add up to a lot of money for the animals," explains Carelia of carelia.
For example, volunteers like Sharon of sharonfosterart are quick to let members know about pets who need homes — most recently it’s Stella, a blue heeler hound pup. Sharon describes how things go down, "AWBAR (Abandoned Wild Babies Animal Rescue) has a store on Etsy and I donated cards for her basket fundraiser. Richard from UniqueGrabs helped with the raffle ticket sales and promoting AWBAR’s website and store. Silver Dragon Rescue runs a shelter from her home and I bought fabric from her this week because she has a full house of pets right now. Karen from Beadmarkers (she has rescue pets also) and Judy from BackroomTreasures also donate art, items and money to EFA and animal charities. Sandy from Jinny’s Closet is another pet loving friend and she donates items to shelters. There are so many wonderful pet lovers on Etsy."
(above, Hickory enjoys a catnip mouse: photo by Spiralkins)
Although the group’s primary goal is to make the world a safe and loving place for all the creatures in it, EFA is also a supportive, animal-loving community that couldn’t have formed anywhere but Etsy. "The wonderful artists on Etsy were so friendly and caring when I first joined," says Renovia of endlesswhimsy. "They reached out to help a newcomer, to help me get started and my shop on its feet. I browsed some of these gracious members’ shops and found that they were not only gracious to their business peers but to charities of all kinds as well. I was especially moved by the kindness of the group members of Etsy for Animals and its loyal buyers."
Now, she says, her participation in the group has become an integral part of her creative process. "EFA has given me a more refined reason to create. If not just for the joy of creating, but to also benefit animals in need. It is very rewarding to have a higher cause than just ‘finance.’"
EFA-ers are just as supportive of each others’ pets, too. It’s only logical that nearly every EFA member is also a pet owner — Sharon and Renovia are both mommies to two cats, with Sharon also owning a toy poodle — which has turned the group’s photo pool into the Etsy version of CuteOverload.com, with members’ pets on full display and plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" from fellow dog lovers and cat ladies in the comments.
Artist and jewelry designer Michele (aka mvegan5) began the group last year, in an effort to extend her own policy of donating part of her sales throughout the Etsy community. Thanks to a huge response from fellow Etsians, the group has grown far beyond Etsy itself. "Etsians have been very interested in the group and supportive all along," she says, "but membership and donations to our charities have increased and become more productive with time and publicity. Now that we have a Yahoo! Group, Flickr group, blog, website, and Etsy shop going, the group is much more cohesive and helping animals so much more than at the beginning!" So much so, in fact, that it can’t be done alone. "Tantalizingstitches has been very helpful in EFA, she started the EFA shop, and we run it together. She also runs our Yahoo group, blog, and Challenges," while bluedogrose was the group’s first webmaster who designed the website at etsyforanimals.com, Michele says.
(Boomer and Olga enjoy a nap: photo by Nitelily3)
So whether it’s appreciating the perfectly adorable pup in their photostream or making a difference in the lives of creatures in a rougher situation, the bottom line for EFA is the animals. "The most rewarding part of heading this group is the amount that we help animals, and are able to help each other spread the word about each other and animal charities, and raise money through Etsy sales," Michele says. "In the coming year, I hope our group will raise more money for great animal charities, and that our new shop will be successful and help animals!"
For more information on charities that Etsy for Animals donate to, visit:
Beagle Rescue www.beaglerescue.org
Homeless Animal Rescue Team www.hartofme.com/
Harmony House Cat Shelter www.hhforcats.org