Many workers and businesses around the world have capitalized on the ability to work from home (WFH) and maintain operations virtually from their personal homes with an internet connection. This has led to a sharp rise in virtual meetings around the world and has changed how we meet as stay-at-home and social distancing orders are in effect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many non-profit organizations like yours have shifted focus towards social media to spread awareness and campaign for electronic donations from followers, friends, and more. One animal welfare organization has already started going viral in how they have capitalized on the rise in virtual meetings, and your organization may have an opportunity to do the same!

Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley, has marketed the opportunity for workers and corporations who are hosting virtual meetings to invite sanctuary animals in on video conferences and virtual meetings, with Llamas being the most requested meeting attendee. For a charge of $100, workers can request a Llama or other sanctuary animal, as well as a virtual tour, to be video-showcased in a virtual meeting, and that money goes towards funding for Sweet Farm Sanctuary. Guess what? They’ve had over 300 requests!

With this idea in mind, your organization can also jump in on the virtual meeting trend! No matter the size of your organization or the number of animals you have in your care, you can approach this idea from different angles. Here are a few recommendations we have come up with to help give you some ideas on how you can turn this idea into a reality for your organization:

Equine, Exotic, Farm rescues and sanctuaries:

  • Think of the type of animals you have in your care and in your facility. Do you have exotic, wild, or other unique animals? Market those animals on social media, and advertise to followers, friends, and even businesses you know that are utilizing virtual meetings. Market the opportunity for them to get a chance to see some of these animals in their next corporate or personal meeting (hint: Exotics and tigers are BIG talk right now!). Equine and Farm sanctuaries, perhaps think Mr. Ed.
  • Host a virtual tour! Pick a date and decide what the tour will showcase and advertise it as a virtual event that others can sign up for and attend! You can set a specific donation amount as a sign-up fee and emphasize that the money collected from those who attend will be direct donations to the organization or ask attendees to consider donating an individual amount towards the organization. Utilize a popular virtual meeting platform like Zoom, Go-To-Meetings, Google Meet, or another known platform to host your virtual tour. We recommend limiting the tour to a specified number of available spots (between 15-20).
  • Create an electronic flyer that you can use to outline and advertise your campaign to others via email, social media, etc. Make sure to include a brief description of what you are doing and how it works, the animals you have that can be booked to attend a virtual meeting (or what will be seen on the virtual tour), the booking/donation amount for the animal/tour, and contact information for interested parties to book.
  • Want to give attendees the chance to ask specific questions or express topics of interest? Create an online survey to send out to parties that are booked for an animal attendee or tour prior to the virtual event that lets attendees ask questions or express what they are most interested to see/learn, and then cover those inquiries during the event. You can use SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create your survey!

Rescues, Shelters, TNR, Spay, Neuter, Vaccine Clinics

If your organization falls under this category, there is opportunity for you as well! You can also model your virtual meeting ideas after some of the previously listed ideas. However, here are some recommendations and ideas that may fit your organization more appropriately:

  • Do you have animals that are still up for adoption? Host a virtual adoption event! If you originally had a big adoption event planned for the year that was cancelled, or you are missing out on being able to host frequent adoption events that you normally have, adapt those events to online. You can utilize the virtual meeting platforms that were previously listed to host an event. It is also a good idea to limit the number of attendees (between 15-20). To help raise funds, consider charging a fixed sign-up amount and emphasize that the money goes as a donation directly to your organization, or encourage attendees to consider donating an individual contribution.

Once you and your organization have a plan and have worked out the details of how you want to go virtual with your animals/facility, it is important that you get the word out! Advertise it on social media, pass the idea around to friends and family, and share it with businesses that you know that may be hosting virtual meetings (hint: advertise your idea as a team building activity and as a great way to boost morale and get some smiles!). When the going gets tough, it’s time to go virtual!

These awesome tech applications are for you!

Whether you are working in a well-established, mid-size to large scale facility, or you are just starting out as a small scale animal welfare operation in your community, there is a wide array of digital resources you can take advantage of that can benefit your organization. Your time, resources, and care are crucial to what you do, and balancing these factors can be a challenge. However, there are many reputable technological resources you can utilize to boost your efficiency so you can focus on what matters most. Let’s explore some of these technologies and how they can help you, and we’ll even offer a few suggestions on which ones are worth looking into!

Animal Shelter Management Software (ASM)

If you haven’t already heard of ASM software, then you’ll be delighted to know that it’s a real thing! ASM software/applications are designed specifically for animal shelters, rescues and animal care organizations to help them be more effective and efficient in managing their animal records, resources, donations, volunteers, and more. Perhaps your organization already has such software, which is wonderful! However, technology is always improving, so it doesn’t hurt to evaluate your current software or applications and determine if it is time to search for something new. If you are new to the game or haven’t implemented such software into your organization just yet, then perhaps now is the time! Either way, there are multiple features and questions you should consider when searching for ASM software or applications. Here are some big ones to consider:

  • $ Price $
  • Provided technical support
  • Free trials/demos
  • User interface and ease of use
  • Foster tracking
  • Key features (volunteer management, applications, animal record management, etc.)
  • Data security and privacy
  • Number of users allowed
  • Mobile application/integration

One other important consideration to factor into your search for ASM software is if the software fits the size of your organization. If you are a small, home based foster program, or don’t have a physical location, then ASM software may not be a viable investment for you. Simple computer applications like Microsoft’s Office 365 Suite may be a better alternative in this case. On the other hand, if you are a mid-size to large scale organization with multiple people, animals, and records to keep track of then ASM software will serve you well! Capterra is a software search engine that has a list of the “best” or “top” rated ASM software programs that you can check out. A few good programs we recommend checking out are ShelterLuv, Animal Shelter Manager, and Shelter Pro.

Donation & Fundraising Tools

Although ASM software is great for helping manage your on-site animal care services and other aspects of your organization, it may lack some more specialized features when it comes to managing your resources like donations or fundraising. But don’t worry, there are some well-known donation and fundraising platforms that you can use to your advantage. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe have become an increasingly popular fundraising platform for nonprofits, personal campaigns, and more. Crowdfunding sites tend to be campaign or goal specific, which means that fundraising campaigns set up on these sites (like GoFundMe) are set to raise funds for a specific short-term goal or need, and are not made to be a permanent fundraising effort. For example, if you want to set up a campaign that asks for donations for a specific animal that has some outstanding vet bills, then crowdfunding is a more “targeted” approach to raising funds for that specific animal. However, it is not a long-term fundraising fix. For that, you need a more established and easily manageable donation system.

A lot of organizations utilize PayPal to send and receive donations. It is perhaps the most common and user-friendly money exchange/payment platform that integrates well with websites, bank accounts, and other applications for a seamless process. PayPal even offers discounted transaction rates for registered 501(c)(3) organizations and no hidden fees. However, one beneficial feature that PayPal lacks is the full management of donations. DonorBox is an amazing donation platform does a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to collecting and managing donations. From donor management, donation form creation, website and third-party software integration, and tons of other amazing features, DonorBox should be highly considered by rescues, shelters, sanctuaries, and animal welfare organizations of all kinds. What makes it even better is that it doesn’t charge a platform fee if your organization collects less than $1000 a month in donations. After that amount, there’s a 1.5% platform fee. Of course, there are the processing fees that come along with payment transactions, but nothing that will break the bank (you can view DonorBox’s transaction fees and rates on their website). To find out more, go check out their features page to see how DonorBox can help you optimize your donation management!

We want your animal welfare organization to be as efficient and successful as can be in carrying out your mission to save, care for, and love as many animals as possible, these technologies are meant to help you do just that. Give them a look and see what they can help you achieve for your organization!

You started your animal welfare organization to help the furry friends in your community that could not help themselves against neglect, abuse, and being forgotten. The sacrifices you have made through your organization to save and help care for the helpless animals in your community has become a truly wonderful service. However, having extra helping hands can really make a difference in caring for the animals you currently look after, and can further aide your organization’s efforts to extend its services and outreach in 2020. If you’re currently looking to attract new volunteers, or ramp up your efforts to attract volunteers, then here are some simple and effective ways to do just that!

Look Inward, Project Outward

In what animalrescueprofessionals.org believes in getting the best local animal rescue volunteers in the door, it is helpful to start by looking at what got YOUR foot in the door and where it all began. This can be done simply by:

  • Reflecting on your own experiences in animal welfare/rescue organizations and how they made you feel
  • Know your WHY? (“Why did I get into animal welfare?”, “Why did I stay in animal welfare?”)

Understanding your personal experiences and motives for getting involved in an animal welfare organization, or why you may have started your own, helps create a personal testimony that can be reflected outward through social interaction, an online platform, or any another form of media that people can relate to. Share your testimony via social media, your website, or even a simple blog post. If people see the meaning behind why you do what you do and are interested in doing the same, then they will have a good, motivating feeling and want to help!

Recognize Volunteers Have Needs Too

According to Joanne Fritz, it’s no surprise that volunteers want to be happy and have their own set of needs that they seek to fulfill through their volunteer efforts. They want to:

  • Be prepared for
  • Feel welcomed
  • Receive good training
  • Do interesting work
  • Know how much of their time it will take
  • Be appreciated
  • Be communicated with
  • Know they are making a difference
  • Be socially connected
  • Learn something new

They seek just as much fulfillment in their work as everyone else in your organization. Assessing the wants and needs of current volunteers within your animal welfare organization is a great place to start gaining insights on what motivates them, why they do what they do, and can even offer great suggestions as to how to get new volunteers involved! The better you can understand volunteers’ wants and needs, the more effective you can be in fulfilling those needs for both current and new volunteers.

Get Your Name Out There

Potential volunteers want to know who you are, what you are about, and what you do. Getting your name out there in the public eye is the best way to do this. And guess what? You don’t have to be a marketing expert to do it! Something as simple as creating and posting an informational flyer seeking volunteer help on bulletin boards within local businesses is a great way to advertise your organization (just make sure you ask permission before posting).

No website just yet? No problem! Social media is going to be your best friend. Abby Jarvis of Qgiv.com lists some of the most effective social media posts from animal shelters that you can mirror on your own social media pages and spread awareness of your organization.

And let’s not forget one of the most classic ways to promote awareness: word of mouth! Telling people about your organization, encouraging current volunteers to ask their friends to join, and sharing your heart for your organization are pure ways to show people who you are and what you do. Share your heart, share your mission, and don’t be afraid to mention that you are seeking volunteers to help your cause!

 

Figuring out how to fundraise can be a stressful process. Should we do a 5k? Should we do a car wash? Do we just ask for donations on our website or Facebook page? There are so many ways that you can reach out to the community, but you need to find what is right for your organization. Sometimes with all the options it might seem like your head is spinning, but Amazon has simplified it all.

In this day and age, anything you can imagine can be done or sold on the internet. So why shouldn’t we all take advantage of that? The internet is used to buy whatever product that you need because it’s no hassle. Look for what you want, order it and have it delivered straight to your door, just like that! With the ease of shopping because of the worldwide web, why can’t donating to your favorite organization be that easy? With Amazon Smile it is!
So what is Amazon smile you ask? Well let me tell you:
At this point, most people know about Amazon, but did you know while you, your family,
your friends and pretty much anyone shopping can donate with just the click of a button? Smile will donate .5% of every purchase that is made while they are shopping as long as they have selected your organization. They just need to go to
smile.amazon.com using their regular account, and make sure that they have selected your business before they make their final purchase. Now that might not seem like a lot, but think of how many times people shop on amazon, it’s not a once in a while thing at all.

In order to be eligible you need to have a registered EIN number as well as be a 501(c)(3) in good standing. Your organization also must not be a private fundraiser. Once you meet
those requirements, a designated administrator from your business can then set you up
with an EFT account. Every quarter your donations will be put directly into the account that you provide, easy as that! Unfortunately, they are not able to do paper checks, they will only do it as a direct deposit. The minimum they will deposit into your account is 5.00, so make sure that you are spreading the word to all that you know, to shop Amazon Smile with your organizations name!
While you can, by word of mouth, tell your friends and family to make sure they are thinking of you when they shop, you can also post about it on any social media that you may have. You can make a Facebook post or you can put the link and information on your web page. If you still aren’t sure how you want to put this information out to the public, Amazon has your back! Once you sign on to your organizations account on amazon, you can go to their marketing tools area where they can guide you in the right direction, such as a social media banner.
Fundraising can be difficult, but Amazon Smile has made it easier for you to do so with thesetype of donations. All you have to do is post about it!

Fundraising 5k

August 24, 2018

Running a marathon, that sounds fun right? No I didn’t think so. But you know what sounds fun? A 5k! Whether you are walking or running, it’s something that you can do solo, with your family, with a group, even with your dog! In the past couple of years 5k’s have been making there way on to the scene being used as a great way to get people together to exercise for a cause. Who wouldn’t want to get fit while supporting their favorite organization?

Being in the animal field, such as running a sanctuary, or being a foster, you are relying a lot on the donations that come in from the general public. Sometimes you need to get creative to get the community involved, and what better way than by jumping in on the band wagon and hosting a 5k in honor of your facility. These types of events are also really great to get some face to face interaction with those who are potential supporters and make a more personal connection, not only with you the owner, but with the animals that they will be donating too.

5k walks or runs are great for the community because you can host a larger amount of people at one time. In a time where health is a big focus, these types of fundraising events give people motivation to get out and do something while supporting something they are passionate about. To make it even better you, could make the 5k dog friendly so that people can bring their best friend out and support his furry brothers and sisters.

Other local animal products can set up stands at the beginning of the race and a portion of their proceeds can be donated to you. This is also a great way to spread the word about local business that people might not realize is in their very own community.

This is also a great time to spotlight some of your furry friends that the walk is benefitting. If you are in the business of adoption, bring some of your adoptable. Who knows they might even find their furrever home, or at the least get someone to sponser them! If you are trying to raise funds for a santuary, or a facility that doesn’t adopt animals, and you just give them a safe haven, bring them out so they can show their appreciation!

Whats wonderful about events like this, and most other types of events, is that most of the policies that we at Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program write for our organizations will already have this covered. If they don’t they make it really easy to get the coverage so that it’s one less thing for you to worry about when you are putting on your 5k.

Fundraising is a tough thing to do , but when you can make it fun and interactive, people are more likely to come out and see what you are all about! Spread your love for your animals to other’s by walking it out for a cause.

No matter how much love you have for animals, as an animal welfare organization you still need donations to fund basic necessities. Food, bedding, and medicine all come with a price and raising the funds to cover them is one of your biggest goals. Depending on your support system, partnerships, and the number of animals you provide care for, finding donors is sometimes challenging for animal shelters.

We’ve put together a list with five of our favorite fundraising ideas to increase donations to your animal shelter.

 

  • Professional Pet Photos

People treat their pets like family and giving them a chance to have professional photos taken is a great opportunity to raise money for your animal shelter. Partner with a local professional photographer to set up a photo opportunity at your location. Invite local community members to bring their pets for a photo session. You can charge a flat fee or accept donations depending on the photographers pricing. In addition to money raised by pictures, visitors may find a new beloved family member they’d like to adopt.

 

  • Pet Costume Contest

A pet costume contest is another fun way to raise money. Look for local community events like builder shows or street fairs that offer vendor spaces to organizations. Once you have an event scheduled, invite the community to submit pictures of the pets in costumes for a friendly competition. At the event, display the photos and let visitors vote for their favorite one with monetary contributions. When the contest is over, award the top three with a pet store gift card or baskets filled with pet supplies.

 

  • Hold a Pet Wash

Hosting a pet wash is a fun twist on the traditional car wash approach. Find a public spot that will let you set up that gets a good amount of foot traffic and is easy for patrons to stop in. Offer to give their pets a bath in exchange for a donation to your animal shelter.

 

  • Sell Animal Calendars

Calendars filled with animal pictures are a huge hit! You can either take pictures of animals available for adoption or ask adopting families to submit pictures of their furry family members. Connect with a local printing company to create and finalize the calendars and then sell them starting in November at events you attend, on social media, or on your website.

 

  • Add Penny-Wars to your Vendor Table

Many animal shelters set up at vendor events throughout the year. Having a game or some engaging activity at your table is a great way to attract traffic and start conversations. A Penny War allows attendees to vote for either a favorite animal or breed by dropping their change into the appropriate bucket.

Animals – dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses – are taken in by animal shelters and rescues every day. Often times they come from unfortunate situations. Sometimes they come from amazing homes and families but uncontrollable circumstances arise forcing the family to give the animal up. No matter what their history consists of – they are sure to find comfort and safety in the shelter or rescue. Animal shelters and rescues work hard to find forever homes for these animals. One of the keys to raising awareness and interest in the animals available for adoption is successful marketing.

Marketing
Animal shelters and rescues utilize several marketing strategies to increase organization awareness and capture the attention of potential adopters. Common methods used by successful animal shelters and rescues include:

  • Adoption events
  • Online advertisements
  • Social media posts
  • Fundraisers
  • Open house events
  • Website page highlighting the animals

Getting potential adopters in the door (or on your website) is the first step in any of these techniques. How do you spark their interest? How do you make them fall in love and want to adopt one of your animals? The secret is writing a profile or bio about the animal they can’t ignore.

A bio they can’t refuse
You might not consider yourself a creative writer, but you need to. Utilize these five techniques to write create animal bios that work.

  1. Pull at their heart strings. Grabbing their attention starts with their hearts. In the first few sentences focus on those feelings. When you look at the animal – what do you see in their eyes or facial expression? Excitement, desire for a home, seriousness? Talk about that in your opening remarks. Use this example to guide you: “Roxy is looking for an energetic, fun-loving active family.” Or “Max needs a calm and peaceful home to spend his days relaxing.”
  2. Be honest. Honesty is vital. Make sure your description truly meets the needs of the animal and attracts the right family by telling them the truth.
  3. List the facts (even the negative ones). List facts about the animal – weight, color, and breed. Provide a history including where they came from, likes, needs, and dislikes.
  4. Include a call to action. Tell the potential adopter what steps to take next. Contact your animal shelter, talk to a volunteer, or fill out a volunteer application. They need to know what their next step is and are more likely to take action in the moment.
  5. Include a photo. Always include a photo of the animal – especially if you are listing the bio on the Internet. Pictures provide readers with a “face” and increase their desire to want to meet the animal in person.  Online posts with pictures are more likely to be read and shared by followers. The more individuals that see available animals – the better chance they have of being adopted.

Boost your marketing efforts with better animal bios and profiles. Make it impossible for potential adopters to say no by utilizing these five tips.

Halloween is the second largest consumer holiday in the United States. Even though many nonprofit animal welfare organizations consider Christmas to be the best time to launch fundraising campaigns, Halloween is actually better. 30% more consumers entered promotion campaigns at Halloween than at during the Christmas season. Why? Your supporters aren’t feeling the financial stress of the expensive holiday season – yet.

Advantages
Consider these four advantages before skipping Halloween this year.

  1. Increased donations.
    Launching your fundraising campaign months before the holiday craziness boosts your overall donations. Your animal welfare organization supporters haven’t maxed out their budget buying gifts and are more willing to donate.
  2. Less competition.
    Shhh! Halloween fundraising success is still relatively new and many nonprofit animal shelters and rescues still overlook it as a prime fundraising time. Less competition means your campaign or fundraisers are more likely to capture supporters’ attention. Often times, supporters become overwhelmed and inundated with donation requests in November and December, they ignore or politely decline all requests.
  3. More volunteer involvement.
    Volunteers keep you up and running every day. Without their commitment and time, many animal shelters and rescues are forced to close their doors. Many volunteers have out of control schedules with extra family events and holiday preparation in December. Launching a big fundraising campaign at Halloween increases their ability to help.
  4. Innovative ideas.
    Chances are your past major fundraising drives revolved around the spirit of giving in December. You probably copied the same fundraiser from year to year. Focusing on Halloween this year gives you a NEW list of fundraising ideas. Your long-term supporters will be happy for the change.

Fundraising ideas
Do you avoid Halloween fundraising because you don’t want to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch? Schedule a meeting with your fundraising committee to review these # ideas and pick one to start with.

  • Partner with a local pumpkin patch or fall fest. Contact local organizations and see if they are willing to host fundraising days for your animal welfare organization. Request a portion of the ticket sales be donated to you. In addition, set up a table the day of to collect donations and hand out information.
  • It’s all about the treats. Invite supporters to your location encouraging them to bring “treats” (food, toys, blankets, bowls, etc.) for your animals.
  • Sponsor a costume ball. Invite your community to a costume party. Sell tickets in advance and then offer dinner, raffles, and costume prizes the night of the event.
  • Launch a social media contest. Encourage your online followers to participate in a Halloween-themed contest. Invite participants to submit pictures of their Halloween decorations, carved pumpkins or pets in costume. Publish them online and request donations. Every five dollars = one vote. Award your winners with online recognition and prize.
  • Trick or treat for adopters. Promote adoptions in the month of October by offering a special gift to adopting families. They can pick either a ‘trick’ (training DVD or CD) or a ‘treat’ to take home with their new loved one.
  • “Mommy and me” costume contest. Host a costume contest for pets and their parents! Encourage participants to dress as famous duos or family members.

There is success in Halloween fundraising drives and events. Don’t less this time of year pass your animal welfare organization by. Brainstorm innovative fundraising ideas or use one of these to increase your donations this fall.

Animal shelters and rescues have the weight of the helpless animal population on their shoulders.  They find ways and methods to accomplish their significant missions and visions with minimal funding and resources. Animal shelters and rescues rely heavily on the support of donors who provide needed items as well as financial donations.  The last thing they need to add to their daily worries is the risk of a cyber attack that compromises their donor’s confidential information. According to a recent study released by The Global State of Information Security, security incidents increased by 38% and theft of “hard” information rose by 56% in 2015 when compared to 2014.  With the threat of cyber attacks on the rise, it is a real concern for many nonprofit animal shelters and rescues. Implement a cyber security program to protect your donors and your animal shelter or rescue.

Here are eight items to include in your program:

  1. Backup your data. Create a backup of information stored on your computers and server daily. Hackers have the power to compromise your electronic information, making it inaccessible. A backup provides you with an up to date list of your donors and their contact information, simplifying the notification process (a little at least).
  2. Secure physical data. Store physical donor files and confidential information in a locked, fireproof filing cabinet. Allow access to this information on an as-needed basis.  The fewer hands that physically touch the files, the smaller chance they can be misplaced.
  3. Limit the information you collect. A great rule of thumb to implement immediately is “if you don’t need it, don’t ask for it.” The less data you collect from donors, the less information a hacker gains during a breach.
  4. Purge unneeded information. If you have years of donor information stored in a back room at your animal shelter or on discs, it may be time to purge it. Keep only information you need. Often times, older files are stored and forgotten about. Holding onto donor files and information increases your chance of suffering from a breach.
  5. Update computers and software. Update computers and software programs on a consistent basis. Companies release updates and patches to help protect their customers from data breaches.  If updates are left unattended, your risk for a breach increases.  If you are not technology savvy, hire a local IT company to help keep your system up to date and secure.
  6. Use encryption. Use a data or donor collection service that encrypts the information your donors enter. Encryption encodes the information making it only accessible by those authorized to view it.
  7. Train your volunteer staff. Volunteers are a significant help to animal shelters and rescues. They can also be a great risk.  If your volunteer team is not internet or computer intelligent, they may unknowingly download malware or spyware.  Educate them on what is an acceptable use of the organization’s computers and emails.  Make it mandatory that downloads are not acceptable and should be approved by the director.  Phishing schemes are a common hacker specialty. Train your team on these to protect your shelter or rescue.
  8. Purchase cyber liability insurance. Cyber liability insurance is beneficial if it is purchased prior to a cyber breach or theft.  Cyber liability insurance protects your nonprofit animal shelter at the time of the breach by paying defense and settlement costs. The best cyber insurance policies take care of the state required notifications, which can be a long and treacherous task.

Cyber breaches are a serious threat to nonprofits like animal shelters and rescues.  The unfortunate news is hackers are becoming more creative in their schemes, making it difficult for companies to keep information secure.  Implement a cyber security program outlined here to protect your nonprofit animal shelter or rescue.

 

Animal Shelters and rescues attend adoption events as exhibitors to help raise mission awareness and increase adoptions.  Events range from a small open house to a larger event with multiple animal shelters and rescues.  Deciding to attend an event comes with risks. Plan in advance to minimize these risks. Train your volunteer team on how their actions can help protect your animal shelter or rescue. Here are five things your animal shelter needs to know before attending a special event:

  1. Does the event align with your mission? Look at the mission or goal of the event.  Does their goal align with your mission? If the two do not align, the event is not in your best interest.  Attending an event that does not promote your mission, leaves you open to negative publicity or loss of a positive reputation.
  2. Read the contract. Most event organizers require you to comply with rules and an agreement to become an exhibitor. Make sure you read the contract or agreement to determine if you can meet these requirements. Common event guidelines include set-up and tear down times, proof of insurance, vaccine requirements for animals, and expectations for how you present yourself during the event. If you are unable to meet the requirements outlined in the agreement do not register as an exhibitor.  You risk a negative impact to your animal shelter or rescue if you attend and do not follow the guidelines.
  3. What can go wrong? Prior to attending an event, make a list of all the potential risks. Risks include animals getting loose, volunteers not showing, animals injuring attendees or volunteers.  Once you have a list of possibilities, create a proactive plan that identifies how you will minimize the potential for these.  For example, one significant risk is an animal jumping on an attendee and scratching that individual.  A plan to keep that from occurring includes making sure volunteers are assisting the attendees while talking to, petting and playing with the animals.
  4. Choose the right animals. Choosing the right animals to take is a key in minimizing the risk of injury to attendees. Your goal is to increase adoptions by attending the event.  Animals that have just recently entered your care may not be a good fit.  Choose animals that can handle social situations and interaction with strangers.  Animals that are skittish or easily scared have unpredictable behaviors and should remain at the shelter or in their foster home during events.
  5. Choose the right volunteer team. Volunteers who attend the event need to be knowledgeable of your animal shelter or rescue, your mission and how to present themselves during an event. If you choose to send new volunteers, make sure you pair them with an experienced volunteer that understands adoption event logistics and your expectations.

Adoption and special events are a powerful way to educate and involve your community with your shelter.  Follow these steps before attending an event to create a positive experience for all involved.