#BettyWhiteChallenge raising money and awareness for animals

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The late Betty White was a tireless advocate for animals for her entire life, from caring for homeless animals as a child to launching her own weekly TV show “The Pet Set” which featured her celebrity friends and their friends. Dedicated to pets.

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His most far-reaching contribution, however, is yet to come: On Monday, White fans will be lining up to donate to animal welfare charities and shelters dubbed the #BettyWhiteChallenge. And animal welfare nonprofits are gearing up to capitalize on viral tributes to the star of “The Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland” on her 100th birthday.

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“I’ve had many conversations with Betty about animal welfare, and I know she’s looking down from heaven and really smiling,” said Robin Ganzert, who leads American Humane, an animal welfare organization. in which White was involved for more than 60 years.

“She’ll smile on her birthday,” she said. “And she’ll be smiling about her changed life.”

It is not clear exactly who started the #BettyWhiteChallenge on social media shortly after White’s death on December 31. However, the idea that began — White’s idea of ​​donating $5 to a local animal rescue organization on her birthday — quickly took off and drew support on Twitter from celebrities such as actors Mark Hamill and George Takei.

American Humane’s website increased traffic after White’s passing. Ganzart said donations have increased as well. The nonprofit is waiting to reveal that it expects massive donations from some donors until more gifts flood in.

During the decades in which White was involved with the organization, she conducted fundraising appeals and served on its board and as a presenter and judge on TV shows featuring “hero” dogs. During the taping of “The Pet Set” in the early 1970s, Ganzert said, White would have a US humanitarian representative to make sure the animals were safe. In 2012, the non-profit organization honored him with its highest award, the National Humanitarian Medal.

Ganzert said that White will also create a photo book each year of the animals the organization has helped.

“He put them on his coffee table,” Ganzart said. “And (it) always touched me whenever we went.”

Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based animal welfare organization, has raised $25,000 in donations made in White’s name, according to Holly Sizemore, the group’s chief mission officer. The group has widely promoted the #BettyWhiteChallenge on their social media channels to garner support for both their work and other organizations.

“That’s the beauty of animal welfare,” Sizemore said. “There’s something to support everyone. There’s a lot of great work going on and so many opportunities, especially right now, to make the world a better place for people and animals.”

Sizemore hopes that Monday will bring in lots of donations and attention to animal welfare.

“An incredible opportunity to honor Betty White’s legacy – to come together as a nation and celebrate something she was so passionate about, her love for animals,” she said.

#BettyWhiteChallenge Maintaining that relationship with donors is the main test for animal welfare nonprofits after Monday. Viral fundraising efforts can bring in a stream of funds, but experts say donations drop quickly.

Sarah Newhall, chief strategy officer at fundraising firm Missionwire, says charities can make the best of these moments if they already have a strong foundation to engage new donors — whether email, website, social. through the media or other means.

“What it allows them to do is use that tent-pole moment to really get in front of an audience they might not have gotten to otherwise,” Newhall said. But, he said, retaining these donors can be an uphill battle because the push to give is tied to a day and a person’s motivation. Animal groups can also be overshadowed by other organizations soliciting donations during Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which also falls on a Monday.

North Shore Animal League America, a no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, plans to enlist new #BettyWhiteChallenge donors to visit its Adoption Center in Port Washington, New York through a mix of social media appeals and invitations That is, said Joan Yohannan, the organization’s senior vice president of operations. It is dedicating its next 100 animal rescues to White in honor of his 100th birthday.

The organization has received a donation from the Hallmark Channel in White’s honor, which is part of a tribute that also includes the January 17 “Golden Girls” marathon and her Hallmark film “The Lost Valentine.”

“It’s about raising awareness of the plight of homeless animals and what can be done to help them, including volunteering and adoption,” Yohannan said.

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The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for its coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. is solely responsible for all content. For all of ‘s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

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