2020 Giving Challenge

    Thank You for Being The One to Donate and Chill!

    For 70 years, HSSC has provided original animal programming to our community. Every HSSC program is filled with heartwarming success stories of animals and people. As a private nonprofit, HSSC relies on donations from people like you to keep our programs “streaming.” The 2020 Giving Challenge came at a time when we needed your support more than ever. In an outpouring of generosity that took our breath away, you proved that YOU ARE THE ONE to support a cause that matters to you. Over a 24-hour period from April 28-29, 2020, noon to noon, 807 HSSC supporters donated $69,797! With an additional $52,757 in matching funds from The Patterson Foundation, the total raised was $122,554! We also received $10,500 in prizes: Best Overall Campaign, Best Business Partnership (with Bayside Pet Resort), 10th Most Unique Donors, iHeart Media, Fast 50, and 2018 Best Giving Challenge Story! Our lifesaving total raised: $133,054! 

    As we once again prepare for the Giving Challenge—April 26-27, 2022—we reflect on how wonderful the 2020 Giving Challenge was and how it gave us the support we needed to keep going during a very difficult time. Our community stepped up in a major way, allowing us to continue operating and saving animals that year. While we are in a much better place now, two years later, having weathered COVID-19 and finished our massive renovation, our lifesaving goals have increased significantly. We adopted 1,236 animals in 2020 and 2,109 in 2021. Our 2022 goal is our most ambitious ever: 2,700 adoptions. We need our community's help to make those 2,700 adoptions happen, and the 2022 Giving Challenge is the perfect opportunity for everyone to Be The One to save a life. We look forward to another joyful 24 hours of lifesaving philanthropy from our amazing community.

    Our Not-So-Chill Giving Challenge

    April 2020 was a scary time. The world was reeling from COVID-19, and there was an overwhelming urge to crawl under the covers, snuggle a kitten or puppy, and emerge again when it was safe. Of course, retreating was never an option for the nonprofit sector and especially not for the Humane Society of Sarasota County. We could not give up on the animals in our care, nor could we close ourselves off from the public when they still needed services for their pets. We simply had to keep going as safely as possible. So we did.

    The Giving Challenge had always been akin to Christmas: a day of generosity and excitement. How, we wondered, would it be in this new 2020 reality? Would anyone want to donate? Was it insensitive to even ask for donations at a time like this?

    We did not have the answers, but the public's response to our earlier efforts to clear our shelter prior to the stay-at-home order and the outpouring of foster applications had shown us that people still cared. So we decided to infuse our campaign with light-hearted, feel-good messaging and a nod to the overwhelming craziness of the moment. Thus, "Be the One to Donate and Chill" was born. Our Netflix-inspired campaign drew inspiration from our HSSC original programming---the success stories and happy tails that result from our work. We had great fun coming up with televison puns for our programs: "Barks and Recreation" for our obedience courses; "Dinners, Drive-ups, and Donations" for our pet food pantry; and "Touched by an Animal" for our pet therapy program, among others. We took a creative deep dive, and it paid off. We secured a generous matching donor and a business partnership, and we planned a fun synchoronized streaming movie night on social media. On the big day, we watched our donations grow and our name move up the leaderboard---shocked, amazed, grateful. More than 807 individual supporters contributed to HSSC—more than any previous Giving Challenge—by a long shot. When all was said and done, we raised $133,054 and tied for best overall campaign.

    April 2020 was a scary time, but for 24 hours on April 28-29, we were joyful. And that joy and the money raised made all the difference that season for the animals, the staff, and all who benefit from the Humane Society of Sarasota County.

    The Giving Challenge gave us purpose.

    The GIving Challenge gave us funding.

    The Giving Challenge gave us hope.

    About the Giving Challenge

    The 2020 Giving Challenge was presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

    The Giving Challenge was an exciting online 24-hour giving event that took place from Noon to Noon on April 28–29, 2020, connecting 700+ nonprofit organizations with donors and community members to build relationships, support diverse causes, and create enduring impact in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. To strengthen giving during the 2020 Giving Challenge, The Patterson Foundation provided a 1:1 match for all unique donations, up to $100 per donor, per organization.  All donations made during the Giving Challenge are unrestricted gifts and all gifts are 100% tax-deductible. 

    Since 2012, the Giving Challenge has acted as a catalyst for connection, helping donors throughout our region show their love for local nonprofit organizations serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties by providing more than $58 million in unrestricted funding. The 2020 Giving Challenge set a new standard for generosity in our community, when 58,947 people raised more than $18.4 million in just 24 hours! 

    Each participating organization has demonstrated transparency by developing an in-depth profile in The Giving Partner. View HSSC’s Giving Partner Profile here

    The Shelterette

    Streetwise shelter sweetheart Petra is looking for love in this romantic reality show. Which drool-worthy suitor will she choose? Click on the video below to watch our exclusive series, The Shelterette.

    Petra was a stray from Miami before she came to HSSC. Never having had a family of her own, Petra wanted to make the right choice. She put several “suitors” to the test before ultimately choosing her furever family. Your support enables HSSC to take in, care for, and adopt thousands of animals each year. Whether they simply need basic care, or they need intensive medical and behavioral rehabilitation, HSSC never gives up on our animals. Time and time again, we have seen animals like Petra make amazing transformations and go on to lead wonderful lives. Will you Be The One to support more second chances?

    Be sure to scroll down to check out our gallery of heartwarming stories made possible by donors like you!

    Matching Sponsor


    HSSC's Board President, Teresa Jones, generously matched the first $10,000 in donations, up to $100 per donor. Teresa's match was in addition to The Patterson Foundation's match, effectively tripling the first $10,000 donated during the Giving Challenge. Thank you, Teresa, for Being The One!

    Business Partner


    HSSC and Bayside Pet Resort have a great relationship. Bayside provides complimentary grooming for HSSC adoptable animals that need it, boosting their chances of getting adopted. Plus, Bayside gives all HSSC adopters a gift certificate. Be sure to watch our Giving Challenge video The Shelterette to catch a glimpse of their services in action. Thank you, Bayside Pet Resort, for Being The One!

    Donate and Chill Movie Night

    Thank you to everyone who joined our synchronized streaming of The Secret Life of Pets 2 (PG) on April 28. We would have loved to have had an actual movie night at our facility, but COVID-19 made that impossible. Cozying up at home to enjoy a cute movie was the next best thing. 

    More Original Programming

    The images and stories below are what resulted when we imagined the rest of our HSSC programs as popular television shows. Click on each image to view in a larger gallery. There are no actual videos for these, so the PLAY button is just part of the picture. When in the gallery, you can scroll through the photos by hitting the left and right arrows on the far sides of the image. 


    Volunteer Program

    The halls of HSSC are a little sadder since volunteer Carl passed away last fall. He was a regular presence on campus, always smiling and telling jokes. Carl gave over 700 hours to HSSC and never shied away from any task—from picking up donation banks to passing out treats to walking dogs to matchmaking. He would do anything for anyone, especially any dog. Dog care packages would arrive periodically, always anonymous, but we suspected Carl. He craved neither praise nor recognition. He just wanted to make sure every dog received a little love. Hundreds of active HSSC volunteers make up the tapestry of our organization. We love learning about their lives (Carl was a professional photographer and had worked for the FBI!) and getting to know them. Not only are we truly grateful for their time and energy, we are grateful for their friendship. Will you Be The One to support volunteer opportunities for people who love animals?


    Pet Therapy Program

    Before Lance was a therapy dog, he was a severely neglected animal that had to be carried off the transport van into HSSC. He got the care and love he needed and was adopted into a loving home with Nan. The two of them became one of the cornerstones of HSSC’s Pet Therapy Program, which now has over 80 certified teams. With his signature sprawl and laidback demeanor, Lance has charmed and comforted people from all walks of life. After meeting Lance at the VA Outpatient Clinic, one Veteran decided he was tired of hiding at home. He adopted a service dog and has regained the confidence to venture into public—with the dog—and experience life. Will you Be The One to support joyful programs like Pet Therapy?

    Pet Pantry Program

    Every Wednesday morning, Joe rides his bicycle to HSSC to collect a small amount of donated cat food from our Pet Pantry. He knows the staff by name and never misses a chance to share a kind word or to comment on the beautiful day we’re having. Joe’s positivity reminds us to take life’s challenges in stride and be grateful for everything. What he lacks in material goods, he makes up for in kindness. He extends that kindness to the abandoned cats he cares for and feeds. Will you Be The One to supply nutritious food for the pets of people struggling to make ends meet?


    Animal Clinic

    Sweet black-and-white kitten Nick Fury (named for the Avengers movies) had not had an easy start in life. Picked up as a stray by Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services (SCAS), he had a severely infected eye and an upper respiratory infection. Thanks to a medical fund established by an HSSC donor, SCAS animals with extenuating medical needs are treated free-of-charge at the Animal Clinic of HSSC. Nick’s eye just would not heal, despite weeks of medical treatment, so HSSC’s doctors removed it. Losing an eye did not dampen his spirits, and he even met his new mom in the process—one of the Animal Clinic receptionists fell in love with him over the course of his treatment. Since opening in 2016, the Animal Clinic has provided affordable, full-service veterinary care to over 15,000 owned cats and dogs. The Animal Clinic is a program of HSSC, so all proceeds directly benefit the shelter animals. Will you Be The One to help local pets receive high-quality veterinary care?


    K-9 Obedience Courses

    If you’re not training your dog, he’s training you. That adage rings true for pet owners, which is why HSSC encourages every adopter to sign up for our affordable K-9 Obedience Training Courses. Long-time instructor Vickie has seen it all—from first-time pet parents to people worried their dog will never learn to obey. By the end of the six-week course, and with lots of patience and hard work, the pets inevitably make progress and the owners always gain confidence and a strong bond with their dog. Like Dennis, who was older and had many health issues. He adopted a sweet, shy dog named Ginger. Through obedience courses, Ginger overcame her shyness and became able to function as a service dog for Dennis, giving him a sense of freedom and mobility that likely prolonged his life. Any time he saw a dog misbehaving, he would direct them to HSSC for training. Will you Be The One to help owners and pets deepen their bond through obedience courses?


    Teen Club

    Jordyn and Raina have been spending time at HSSC since they were children. They attended our Fur Fun Summer Camps for several years, then became members of HSSC’s Teen Club. Since “graduating” Teen Club, they have become regular fosters and volunteers, and they even help as teacher’s aides at Summer Camp. When COVID-19 struck, they didn’t hesitate to foster a hard-to-adopt dog. Our shelter animals, and our future, are in good hands with teens like Jordyn and Raina. Will you Be the One to support positive outlets for animal-loving children and teens?


    Foster Program

    Expectant parents Dayna and Bingo were surrendered by their owner right before Thanksgiving. Just two days later, Dayna gave birth to eight puppies. We were fortunate to find a foster volunteer willing to take Dayna and her babies. They stayed in foster until they were weaned, becoming happy and well-adjusted little pups. Once her mom duties were completed, Dayna was treated for heartworm and spayed. Now she’s healthy and happy in her new home. Her puppies all got adopted, and so did Bingo. Will you Be The One to equip fosters with the supplies they need to provide in-home care for our most vulnerable animals?


    Heartworm Treatment

    Rescued from deplorable conditions in Louisiana, 30 dogs arrived at HSSC on Valentine’s Day. Nearly all of them had heartworm disease. Spread by a bite from an infected mosquito, heartworm disease is especially common in warm climates where mosquitoes thrive. While not immediately deadly, heartworm disease will destroy an animal’s quality of life and eventually take its life. HSSC is one of the few shelters that routinely accepts and treats dogs with treatable conditions like ringworm and heartworm disease. Treatment is costly and requires that dogs stay in the shelter longer than usual, so foster volunteers are crucial. The hoarding case animals are thriving in their foster homes, each one getting lots of attention and socialization while their treatment takes effect. HSSC believes that every dog deserves treatment and a healthy start to a new life. Will you Be The One to cover treatment for a heartworm positive dog?


    Humane Education

    HSSC’s Collars & Scholars Program is a nine-week school-based course that uses the principles of the humane-animal bond to illustrate the concepts of self-awareness, empathy, and compassion. This program is a join venture of HSSC and The Florida Center for Early Childhood, brought together and funded by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. A small group of 4th and 5th graders at Gocio Elementary School formed the pilot group. Over the course of the program, they interacted with shelter animals and learned about their own social and emotional health. Students who began the pilot program as shy and disengaged were, by week nine, eagerly participating, sharing their thoughts, showing respect for others, and actively engaging with the animals and presenters. Along with other humane education initiatives like Reading Fur Fun and Fur Fun Summer Camp, Collars & Scholars is part of HSSC’s efforts to create a more humane future for all. Will you Be The One to encourage children to love and respect all living beings?

    Read about the 2020 Giving Challenge -- we won Best 2020 Giving Challenge Story!

    Read about the 2018 Giving Challenge -- we won Best 2018 Giving Challenge Story!
    Read about the 2016 Giving Challenge
    -- we won Best 2016 Giving Challenge Story!
    Read about the 2015 Giving Challenge -- we won Best 2015 Giving Challenge Story!

    The Humane Society of Sarasota County, Inc., is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Registration Number CH239, and receives 100% of all donated funds. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the division of consumer services by calling toll-free 1-800-435-7352 within the state or online at www.freshfromflorida.com. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state.