As social media use continues to rise, organizations, including animal welfare organizations, are relying on it to deliver their message, increase donations, and spread awareness. While the platforms are beneficial to your animal shelter, they also open the door to potential risks. If you or a volunteer posts the wrong thing, what was innocent can quickly damage your reputation.

Many animal welfare organizations choose to institute a social media policy and guidelines that volunteers agree to in order to volunteer for the organization. Before creating your own social media policy, it is best to outline what is and what is not acceptable behavior for volunteers. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of popular points to consider below.

The first policy you need to create should address volunteers posting on your organization’s behalf. Questions to answer include:

  • Who will curate content?
  • Who will publish it?
  • What channels do volunteers need to go through for approval?
  • Who will monitor and respond to comments and conversations on the business page?

It is a good idea to not add every volunteer as an editor or administrator on your account. Defining these roles up front limits any confusion. Once this is defined, you can create a strategy that:

  • Supports your mission and vision
  • Creates guidelines for what is acceptable or not acceptable
  • Illustrates your values as an organization

There is some debate on the legality of limiting or controlling volunteers’ personal activities on social media. It is especially important to outline what is acceptable and what is not because they often list organizations they volunteer at on their profile or promote your organization. If a volunteer posts something inappropriate, others may think your animal welfare organization condones their actions and choose to no longer support your mission. Here are several items to address in this section:

  • Define your core principles.
  • If they have doubts, skip posting.
  • If something is controversial, include a disclaimer stating their opinions are solely their own.
  • Never post pictures of someone harming animals.
  • Never post pictures that negate the quality of care your organization provides to animals.
  • Don’t post anything illegal.
  • Never share sensitive information about donors or adopting families.

Creating a social media policy helps to guide volunteers to make better decisions when they share information publicly. When implemented properly and volunteers are held accountable for their actions, the reputation of your animal welfare organization remains positive.

The ASPCA estimates that nearly 6.5 million companion animals enter animal shelters and rescues each year, but only 3.2 million find their forever home.  The rest of the animals either remain in the care of animal welfare organizations or end up being euthanized. The ongoing goal of every animal shelter and rescue is to find a way to increase animal adoptions. The animals in your care deserve to find a home where they will be loved and cared for long-term.

If your shelter or rescue is struggling to increase adoptions, we’ve put together the list below to inspire new ideas, strategies, and techniques.

  1. Focus more on the experience

Too often, individuals looking for pets skip the shelter experience because the idea of seeing so many unwanted animals is heartbreaking. While it is heartbreaking, entering your shelter doesn’t have to leave visitors feeling like that. Make it an energetic and happy environment by adding color, bright lighting, and minimizing clutter.

  1. Paint a pleasant picture

What does your online presence say about your animal shelter or rescue? Are there pictures of animals posted online? Do the animals look like they are living in a happy and well-kept environment? Or, do they paint a different picture? Your website should be inviting and engaging for users and focus on getting them to call or visit your location.

  1. Use social media

If you haven’t created a social media page yet, you are behind in the times. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are a gift to animal welfare organizations. The best part is they are free! You can post pictures and videos of available animals, and, with the right approach, thousands of potential adopting families can see them and fall in love.

  1. Dress for success

Just like you would dress for success if you were meeting with a significant donor, your animals also need to dress for success. Make sure they are well groomed at all times so it is more difficult for adopters to say no.

  1. Spend time in your community

Don’t hide the animals ready for adoption from the community. Take them out for walks in local parks and to pet-friendly events. By giving community members a chance to meet and see the animals, you spark conversations and build relationships with potential adopters.

  1. Limit the number available for adoption

Sometimes too many choices are overwhelming for those looking to adopt. Depending on the number of animals you take in daily, it may be beneficial to limit the number available for adoption. By limiting the choices, you make the decision easier for adopting families that may have left because the decision was too hard.

  1. Partner with the community

Partnering with the community on awareness projects like this one in Concord, North Carolina, may be what you need to fully educate your local community. Students in Concord created a movement with the help of their teacher to increase adoptions. When children get behind a movement, adults listen.