Animal shelters need daily visitors to adopt animals and continue helping the community. Across the country, animal shelters are struggling to increase the adoption rates. At the same time, families that want adopt are finding it difficult to do so. Shelter volunteers are trained to match animals with the best forever homes and often times their scrutiny makes the adopting family feel not welcome or unwanted.

Create a Welcoming Environment

Stop scaring away potential adopting families with these seven steps.

  1. Do a walkthrough. Schedule a time to walk through your shelter and take note of how it appears to potential adopters. Look for items that may be unappealing to individuals that do not actively work with animals on a daily basis. Clutter, dirt, and things that broken make your shelter look like you don’t care. Adopters are more likely to adopt from an organization that puts effort into their appearance.
  1. “Hire” a mystery adopter. As the director or lead volunteer, it is difficult to gauge exactly how adopters are treated when they contact your shelter. Recruit a mystery adopter to visit your animal shelter and take notes on the overall adoption process. Ask them to specifically update you on how they are treated during the process, if the volunteers are friendly, is the process easy to understand, or is it overwhelming.
  1. Keep it clean. Create a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedule for your volunteers to use. This maintains the overall cleanliness of the shelter while breaking cleaning down into manageable sections that all volunteers can assist with.
  1. Minimize odors. Find a way to minimize odors when guests first walk into the shelter. It is obvious to most visitors that your building will smell like animals, but urine shouldn’t be the first and only thing they smell when they enter.
  1. Use a greeter. Have a volunteer act as a visitor greeter during open hours. Greeters are responsible for acknowledging, welcoming and thanking visitors for stopping by. They can also guide them to the waiting areas or to another volunteer responsible for giving them a tour of the kennels or cat room.
  1. Respond to every message. A common problem in shelters is the lack of time for responding to phone calls, e-mails, and social media messages. Schedule a volunteer to review these messages on a daily basis. They are responsible for screening incoming messages and distributing them to right individual or responding to those they are able to. This helps eliminate the pile up on your desk and makes you shelter standout for response time.
  1. Train volunteers on customer service. Not every volunteer has an understanding of customer service. It is important that you educate and communicate with volunteers on how they are expected to interact with potential adopters. Include role playing time after you review the expectations. Help them create easy to implement scripts from these sessions that make it easy to respond in the moment.

Benefits

Investing the time in creating a welcoming environment for adopting families is beneficial to you, your volunteers, and the animals you care for.

  1. Increased adoptions. Visitors are more willing to adopt when they feel welcomed in your shelter. Adoption rates will increase with consistent implementation of these steps.
  2. Happier volunteers. Volunteers are happy when they know their hard work bettering the animals’ lives.
  3. Increased awareness. As adoptions increase and volunteers show excitement for their work, more members of the community will hear about your shelter and the services you offer. Increased adoptions and donations are a direct result of increased awareness.

Take the time today to review your animal shelter setup. How does it appear to visitors? Use these steps to make improvements and improve your adoption rates.

It is every shelter and rescue’s goal to find as many forever homes as possible for the animals in their care. That is no different during the holiday season. The holidays are a great time to focus on increasing adoptions and making sure their furry friends have a home for the New Year.

It is also a scary time to promote adoptions because not every family thinks through the commitment of adopting a new pet. Those families end up returning the animal to a shelter shortly after the holiday’s end.

Increase adoptions

Here are five ways animal shelters and rescues can increase holiday pet adoptions without risking having the animal returned shortly after.

  1. Increase publicity. Contact local newspapers and magazines to run a story about your animal welfare organization. Ask them to include a history of your shelter or rescue, pictures of animals in need of forever homes, and why it’s a great time to adopt a new family member. Increasing your audience reach during the holiday season educates your community on the benefits of adopting instead of purchasing from a pet store.
  1. Be available. Increase your hours of operation to give more families the chance to visit your shelter. You risk missing out on potential forever families by only being open limited hours during the day. Adding evening and weekend hours opens the doors for more families. Have volunteers available to meet with each family and ask questions that pinpoint whether this is an impromptu or well thought out decision.
  1. Contact those previously interested. Look through applications you received throughout the year to find families that didn’t find a match. Reach out these families to see if they still have an interest and invite them to come and meet the new animals in your care.
  1. Limit the number of animals available. Limiting the number of available animals improves your chances of more adoptions during the holidays. Too many choices are overwhelming makes it difficult for families to make a decision. Often time’s families leave without adding to their family as a result.
  1. Show them in their natural environment. Make sure potential adopters see them in a natural environment that shows their real personality. This gives them a more concise picture of the amount of care and attention the animal needs at home. It helps match the right families with a new pet perfect for their lifestyle.

The holiday season is a great time to promote pet adoptions. Use these ideas to increase awareness and match animals with the right forever homes.

The very first thing that you have to take into consideration when you are formulating a press release is your audience.  For large corporations, the format is going to be quite different than for smaller groups.  The big companies are generally well known, so it doesn’t take much to grab the public’s eye, and for the most part it isn’t necessary for them to have to give the public an overview of the things that they do.

For smaller organizations, it can sometimes be necessary to get some information about the things that you do out to the public within the body of the piece, and not just focus on the specific topic of what the press release is based on.  You have to make sure that people know what it is they are donating their time or money to, because there is such a plethora of smaller organizations, that it can become very overwhelming for the common person to really have a solid idea of what the goals of each one are.

Once you get past that back story, what your organization does on a daily basis, and you move into the press release itself, you want to approach it almost like an advertisement.  It is always going to fall back onto how large and how well known the organization is when you are deciding how to address the target audience, but the absolute best advice is, the smaller the organization, the more personal you want the release to be.  You want to feel like you are selling yourself to the audience, because you are.

When you are reaching out to people about the fundraisers, or pet adoption events that you are hosting, you have to make them feel like they are a part of it before they even arrive.  For most pet parents and possible adopters, animal rescue is more than just a charity, it’s something that strikes them closest to home.  When a person not only believes in the cause, but knows that it is something that has effected them personally, their response to your organization will be much greater.  Your press release should not only educate, it should also welcome the reader in as a friend and an ally to the cause.

Animal welfare organizations rely on community involvement to stay in business. It may seem that creating community involvement is difficult, even a little daunting. Here are a few tips to help create community involvement. With a little time and consistent effort, you will see growth.

Create a schedule of fun events that invites the public to come and see what your organization is all about. To get community involvement, you have to be present in the community. One idea is perhaps a pet adoption event that has food, games and educational information. Have information cards for everyone to fill out. Make sure to collect email addresses.

An email address list is very important, especially for staying in touch with the people who have expressed interest in what you are trying to do. Create a monthly newsletter that informs these folks of your upcoming events and important issues. As your email list grows so will the community involvement.

Social media is a really efficient way to reach people twenty four hours a day. Create a Facebook page, and invite people to like it. This another great place to educate and post your upcoming events. You should have links available on your Facebook page that will direct interested parties to your website.

A website is very helpful way to gather information, even after the office is closed. You should ask for email addresses. This will add to your email list, and make your newsletter reach an even bigger part of your community.

Building community involvement is very important. Implementing the above tips will go a long way in getting more people involved. The best part about it is, once it is set up, it is very easy to maintain and grow.