Looking for a fundraiser with some teeth? An ugly dog contest may be just the thing. With multiple ways to bring in money as well as the potential for some local press coverage for your organization, an ugly dog competition could be well worth the time and effort it will take to produce.

Finding a Location

You will need a location that has no problem with dogs taking over for the day. If possible, an outside venue is best. Local government will often allow their parks to be used for such an event. Some won’t charge a fee when all the profits are going to a non-profit.

Once your location is secure, you need to determine how many dogs you can realistically handle at that location. If your location is a small park, you don’t want 500 dogs showing up.

When you have a number in mind, stick with it. Once you reach that number in entrants, you can cut off registration.

You want your event to appear organized and professional, so having more dogs than your space will allow will not make for the best possible event. If you have an abundance of entrants, you will know that next year, you will need to secure a bigger location.

Finding Participants

People love the chance to show off their pets, even if they are showing off how ugly they are! For this reason, finding participants should be easy as long as you know where to find them.

If your budget will allow, take an ad out in the local paper or do a commercial on the local cable channel. The more buzz you can create the better, and the investment you make in advertising will likely come back to you on event day.

Even if you don’t have a big budget, there are ways to locate pet owners that won’t cost you a thing. One of the best places to find dog owners is at the pet store. Most pet stores will be happy to let you hang fliers, and many will even let you set up a table in order to increase interest in the event. Also, talk to some local veterinarians about hanging fliers in their waiting room.

Entering the Contestugly dog

You will need to have a registration deadline that is about a week or two before the event. You need to know how many dogs are competing, so you will be able to plan for factors such as the length of the show.

If, for some reason, your advertising missed the mark and you don’t have enough dogs for the event, contact your local animal shelters. Ask them if they would like to enter some of their adoptable dogs in the competition. This will allow your event to go on, and will give the shelters a chance to show some of their adoptable pets. You could offer the local shelters a few spots in the contest even if you do have enough entrants.

You should charge an entry fee to those wishing to enter (but not to the local shelters who agree to enter their dogs). This assures that the entrants are serious, and will show up on event day.

Raising Money with Vendor Tables

Having vendor tables is a great way to bring in money during your event. Have a place (preferably along either side of a walkway) where tables can be set up. Sell vendors a table where they can give away samples of and coupons for their products.

The price you charge per table should be based on how many people will be coming to the event. It might be hard to guess the first year, but if you have a great turnout you will have no problem selling vendor space at your next event.

Securing Prizes

See if local pet stores or vets will donate prizes for your contest in exchange for being named in the program or for having a sign or table at the event. The more substantial the prizes, the more interest there will be in your fundraiser. Even if you have to spend some money on the prizes (perhaps the pet stores or vets will give you a discount if they won’t donate prizes outright), it will be worth it.

You will also need to purchase ribbons and/or certificates for the winner.

Don’t Forget…


You will need 3-4 judges. You may want to ask some people from local animal shelters, city officials or other local celebrities to sit on the panel.


You will want lots of photos to use when promoting next year’s event. If no one in your group is a good photographer, consider hiring one for the day.

Press Releases

Sending press releases in advance of your event may result in some free “advertising” in the local paper. Submit releases a little more than a month prior to the event. This will give local editors time to run an advance story that will help stir interest in your fundraiser.

Food/Beverage Carts

Have food and beverages for sale. This will increase your overall profit for the day. You can either set up the carts yourself, or have a vendor provide the service in exchange for a percentage of his profits from the event.

Entry Fee?

You will need to decide if you are going to charge a fee for the public to come to the contest. If you are raising plenty of money from vendor tables, entry fees and food and beverage sales, then you may choose to skip the entry fee.

If you do find it necessary to charge a fee for admittance, you will want to keep it low. The worst thing for your event is low turnout. This is especially true if you hope to make it an annual fundraiser.

While an ugly dog contest requires a good amount of planning, it is a wonderfully unique event that will not only make some money for your organization, but will also provide some publicity. It makes a great choice for an annual fundraising event that people will look forward to all year.

Looking for another way to raise money with your pooch? Consider a dog walk-a-thon or a dog wash fundraiser.