Betty White Challenge: How we ended up donating $16K USD to 596 animal organizations

By Simple Happy Kitchen news |
February 7, 2023

– Leevi, the Simple Happy Kitchen team.

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People, animals and simple happy characters celebrating the best betty white challenge ever

Initially, this was supposed to be yet another ordinary social media post, promoting a very cool initiative, nothing much more than that. The concept was decided, the text was ready, the date was set. The only thing missing was also the most important thing: the original illustration that would accompany everything else.

Here is also where things took a crucial turn, because you see, Simple Happy Kitchen’s talented Creative Director also happens to be its founder: Miki Mottes. And when Miki learned about the upcoming Betty White Challenge, he had an idea: “What if, instead of just telling people about the Betty White Challenge, we ask them to tag their favorite sanctuary, and we’ll donate $5 USD to that sanctuary for every tag?” 

Sounds like a wild idea? That’s probably because you don’t know Miki and his uncompromising love for animals. Some last details had to be tweaked, and then it was ready. We were kind of excited and not sure how it was going to go. 

The post was uploaded to Simple Happy Kitchen’s social media on January 12, 2022, around 12:00 p.m. EST. Everything that happened from this point forward, left us all shocked, inspired, and a little overwhelmed. This is the story of how we’ve donated $16,000 USD to 596 animal sanctuaries, charities and organizations from 47 countries around the world. 

The Betty White Challenge

Before we go any further, we must go back a little, and explain this wonderful initiative that started as a way to commemorate the late, extremely talented first lady of television, Ms. Betty White. 

The Emmy-winning TV star had passed away on the last day of 2021, mere weeks before what would have been her 100th birthday. Other than being a remarkable actress who has starred in various beloved TV shows and films, Betty White was also a well-known animal welfare advocate. 

White was not only a trustee member of two different animal-related non-profit organizations, she was also very outspoken against animal cruelty and almost never missed an opportunity to give her opinion on the matter. "I stayed in show business to pay for my animal business," she once jokingly said in an interview, but her 60-year-long career suggests that she might have also been a tad serious.

Shortly after she passed away, White’s many loyal fans came up with the most amazing way to celebrate her 100th birthday: by raising money to help animals. That’s how #TheBettyWhiteChallenge was born: a call for all of White’s fans worldwide to donate just $5 USD to the animal shelter of their choice, on her birthday.

This brilliant challenge, which was all about the cause and didn’t focus on just one organization, produced some astounding results: according to Meta, more than 390,000 people have donated to thousands of fundraisers that appeared across Facebook and Instagram, raising $12.7 million USD for animal shelters and rescuers.

Then we kind of went viral…

Statistics about the Betty White Challenge

In the middle of this tsunami of kindness, there was also our humble pledge to our followers: ”All you have to do is follow our page, tag the shelter/organization (anywhere in the world), and we will handle the rest.” We never imagined the post would accumulate thousands of tags in less than 24 hours…

But it did! The reaction to the post was unlike anything we’d witnessed before, and pretty quickly it became clear that some hard decisions had to be made. In order to be able to keep our promise to the hundreds of animal shelters and sanctuaries that were already tagged, we had to end the tagging process less than 24 hours after the original post, after collecting 3,200 unique tags, which means $16,000 USD for the animals.

It was amazing to see how many caring people showed up as soon as they found the opportunity to help animals, and how far our attempt to take a small part in this great challenge went. A huge part of SHK’s mission is to help as many animals as possible, in as many places and situations as possible. Now we had in our hands a huge index of places and people who were doing just that, and whom we were about to help.

Getting to work!

After we finished picking up our jaws from the floor, we had to get to work. We knew right away this was going to be a year-long process, just one look at the very long Excel sheets we had to start making sense of was enough. 

As we went through the data, we started seeing some amazing things: there were sanctuaries, organizations and shelters from every continent on the planet, except for Antarctica. The range of animals being helped covered all species, from invertebrates to wild birds, bats, rabbits, hamsters, rats, raccoons, wombats, foxes, elephants, and, of course, numerous shelters dedicated to cats and dogs of all breeds. 

We also found scores of animal sanctuaries dedicated to helping the seemingly endless stream of pigs, goats, cows, chickens, sheep, and other animals exploited in farms who have managed to survive the food and cosmetics industries; those sanctuaries being the only place in the world that would treat them like living creatures and not like products. 

Witnessing all of the different people from every corner of the world trying to do everything in their power to help animals made us realize that a one-time donation is not enough. We wanted to do more. So we launched an affiliate program (sanctuaries and other organizations – talk to us!)

Leading continents in our Betty White challenge

Reaching out to 596 unique organizations

When we had everything ready it was time to start the actual long march: figuring out how to reach out and process donations to so many unique organizations, ranging from huge global ones like PETA to independent individuals who are helping the animals in their community. Needless to say, our team had to work for months to deal with hundreds of different ways of processing donations, dozens of different languages and endless other difficulties along the way.

As mentioned, we also wanted to find additional ways to help. So we’ve reached out to as many organizations as we could and introduced our new affiliate program. We’ve also created a number of free illustrated infographic posters about farmed animals and offered to customize them, free of charge. 

We ended up making some amazing new friends from all over the world, people who dedicated their bodies and souls to helping animals, and it was our huge privilege and pleasure to be able to take part in that!

The unbelievable cost of helping animals

Running an animal sanctuary doesn’t only involve extremely hard work and dedication, but also, of course, money. Lots and lots of money! 

"The cost of running a farm sanctuary is astronomical due to the high costs in hay, straw, grain, veterinary bills, wood for shelters, and farm equipment needed to keep everyone healthy and safe,” told us Phillip Jenkins of Schoharie Creek Sanctuary in Amsterdam, NY. “Running our sanctuary costs tens of thousands of dollars each year.” 

We asked Phillip what a sanctuary like the one he’s running can do with a $125 USD donation, which is the median donation amount of all the donations we’ve made last year. “A donation of 125 dollars is extremely helpful and covers the cost of about one week of hay for our 13 cows."

He also told us that our donation, made in July 2022, was used to set up electricity in one of their pastures for their very special calf, Eowyn, “[...] who has to live in her own separate pasture due to an illness she has. But not to worry, she has since gained a new roommate/best friend, Ottis.”

Eowyn the calf and Ottis the dog chilling in the sunset
Photo by: @schohariecreeksanctuary
Eowyn the calf and Ottis the dog in their special pasture
Photo by: @schohariecreeksanctuary

Just look at them! Knowing that we’ve helped Eowyn and so many like her really gives us the power to carry on. 

Some numbers and interesting details…

We’ve made donations to 596 animal organizations, sanctuaries, shelters and individuals.

The largest amount donated was $550 USD. 

39 additional organizations have received donations ranging between $100-$500 USD.

450 organizations have received donations of $5-$10 USD each. 

We’ve donated to organizations, sanctuaries, shelters and individuals from 47 different countries across the world, including China, Egypt, Morocco, South Korea, India, Albania, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Kenya, Brazil, and St Lucia.

We saw a huge range of organizations trying to help animals, from tiny micro sanctuaries to huge, well-known operations such as Farm Sanctuary, Esther The Wonder Pig, Edgar's Mission and The Gentle Barn.

The country which received the largest sum of total donations was the US ($7,955 USD), with the second and third spots going to Canada ($2,010 USD), and Australia ($1,925 USD). 

Leading countries in our Betty White Challenge

Some of the more unique and smile-inducing names we had the pleasure to come across were: For Goat Sake Animal Sanctuary (not to be confused with Goats of Anarchy, of course), Lap Warmers Cat Rescue, Furry Tales Cat Rescue, Infinite Woofs Animal Rescue, Chicken Butt Microsanctuary, The Pipsqueakery and Sheepy Hollow Sanctuary

To see the full list of animal organizations, sanctuaries, shelters and individuals we’ve donated to with your help, click here.

What’s happening next?

Our participation in the #BettyWhiteChallenge is over, but moving forward, we at Simple Happy Kitchen will keep doing whatever we can to support the Earth and the animals on it. We will do it the same way we have been since we started doing our thing back in 2016: by promoting a positive and fun vegan lifestyle, compassion towards all creatures, and a more thoughtful approach towards planet Earth. 

We will keep giving and donating to causes we believe in, so stay tuned for more exciting things in the future! In the meantime, we will keep supporting animal sanctuaries and organizations from all over the world with our affiliate program and free branded posters. We are always trying to come up with more ways to help, so let us know if you have a good idea! 

An easy way to help us continue what we do would be to share this post!

Another really good way to support this cause is to head over to our online shop and enjoy our wide array of high-quality, originally designed, sometimes-educational and often-amusing products! 

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