Volunteers are one of the cornerstones to running your animal shelter or rescue successfully.  You rely on them to help with day to day needs, care for the animals, organize events, spread the word about your mission, and be passionate about the great work they are doing. Did you know they are one of your biggest risks?  Volunteers are human and unpredictable in their actions.  To successfully manage their actions and minimize risk, implement an official volunteer program.  Here are the categories your program requires:

Volunteer Handbook

Volunteer handbooks contain valuable information about the animal shelter or rescue.  They provide new volunteers with:

  1. Background information
  2. Mission and Vision
  3. Application process
  4. Training expectations
  5. Behavior expectations
  6. Volunteer waiver
  7. Organization policies

Require new volunteers to review the handbook prior to completing a volunteer application.  This information sets the precedence for expectations during their time volunteering for your organization.

Volunteer Waivers

Volunteer waivers are typically included as part of the handbook.  They are vital for animal shelters and rescues to have in place.  A strong waiver includes:

  1. Release of liability for injury and bites
  2. Acceptance that injuries are not covered under a worker’s compensation policy
  3. Acceptance of policies and procedures
  4. Emergency contact information
  5. Release to contact to provide medical help or attention if needed

Volunteer waivers are a safety precaution. Volunteers may still choose to file a lawsuit if they believe the animal shelter or rescue is responsible for an injury.  Waivers are part of your defense in court but should not be your only defense.  Work with your legal counsel to draft a waiver that best suits your animal shelter or rescue needs.

The Right Insurance

The best way to be proactive in protecting your animal shelter or rescue from financial loss as a result of a lawsuit is to purchase insurance.  There are many types of insurance you can purchase for your organization including:

  1. General Liability Insurance
  2. Professional Liability Insurance
  3. Accident & Health Insurance
  4. Director’s & Officer’s Insurance

Liability insurance protects your financial assets by paying defense and settlement costs of a covered lawsuit.   Take the time to research animal shelter insurance options today.  Purchasing insurance after a lawsuit is filed will not protect you.

Volunteer Training

Volunteer training is vital for new and existing volunteers.  Create a strong volunteer training program by answering these questions:

  1. What do you want the training to accomplish?
  2. What do your volunteers need to know?
  3. What do your volunteers already know?
  4. How do they learn best?

These answers will help you to create a valuable training program that is beneficial to both the volunteer and the organization.  Once training is completed, have your volunteers tell you what they learned and how they can implement this in their tasks.  Training is never complete and should be offered on a routine basis to volunteers.  The knowledge and education help make them valuable to your team.


Matching fur babies with their family members is a day that will change the lives of both forever. This day can come even sooner if you publicize the animal as much as possible. You can increase animal adoptions in easy, simple ways.

Online Viewing

Animal adoptions have proven to skyrocket once people can put a face to an animal and fall in love. Put each pet on your website so people can browse through and find the type of animals that interest them. Offer fun personality traits and any background information. Write attention catching, fun copy to draw people into each pet. Make sure the pet looks snazzy and that the picture showcases their personality. Besides you own website, register with PetFinder.com. This website helps thousands of pets find their soulmates each year.

Mobile Adoption Events
Getting pets in front of hundreds of hands waiting to pet them will help your adoption rates. You can set up these adoption events at any city gathering or festival to increase exposure. Hand out education material about adopting pets so people can see the benefits. Many people simply cannot resist petting a cute animal and just leaving the animal there watching as they walk away. It’s hard to turn down puppy dog eyes and a sweet kitty cat purr!

Many local television networks offer spots about adoptable pets. Dress a few of the pets up in a cute “Adopt Me” attire and parade them on television. If you’ve ever seen any of the late night talk show’s animal spots, you know they are some of the most fun and popular segments. People can see the personality of the animals and connect which leads them to coming in to visit the pet for potential adoption.


Take adorable pictures of the adoptable pets and print them on cardstock along with a playful biography. You can place these at the organization when people come to visit or you can pass the flyers out when you are out with the pets on a walk or playing outside. Ask local businesses if you can stick some of the cards in their windows or at the cashier counter so the pets get utmost exposure.


Insurance can be one of the most expensive aspects of business from animal welfare organizations. Many go without the coverage they need because they are facing budget cuts or need the funding they do have for other needs, such as animal shelters for all their critters. The team members at AWOIP, LLC (Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program, LLC), are the go-to folks when it comes to securing insurance for animal shelters. Some types of insurance policies that they can offer are:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Volunteer Accident & Health Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Commercial Property Insurance
  • Special Event/ Fundraiser Insurance

But to have insurance for the shelters your organization uses, you need to be able to afford those shelters. When funding and donations do not cover these expenses, there is another way you can get the money you need. Grants for animal shelters are abundant, if you know where to look and how to go about getting them.

Many big name environmental organizations and animal welfare groups offer grants and funding help for other smaller groups who are struggling to do the same work. You could look at any local groups that are doing a similar work and see if you could form a partnership with them. They can provide the help you need and offer a unique perspective and they might also be able to recommend places you can look for grants for animal shelters and people you can talk to get some more funding.

State and federal organizations offer grants for any number of things. Chances are you can find grants for animal shelters simply by looking online. You might also want to search based on the type of facility you are. Some grants for animal shelters are base don the type of animals you work with so you could possibly find a grant that fits you perfectly and not have a lot of other competition for the money.

Another option you have is to reach out to people whom you know support the work you are doing. Many well known actors, celebrities, and iconic individuals support animal welfare. It does not hurt to reach out to these individuals and see if they might be willing to help you with the funding you need. Grants for animal shelters can be found, it just takes a unique approach and new way of looking at it.

Dog Blog

October 30, 2013

Are you and your dog getting bored with the monotonous walks around the neighborhood? Of course you are! Humans and dogs alike need to change it up once in a while. Luckily, there is a website for dog owners to get their  next adventure for them and their furry friend to go on. Just copy and paste this URL into your web browser http://adventure.dogtime.com.  This website also informs dog owners on pick-up tips from outdoor experts, allows owners to share their own stories with fellow dog lovers, and earn point that can be used for donations to non-profit animal organizations and prizes for themselves and their pup. You’ll never run out of activities to do with your dog!

Okay, I know you’re excited with the points so I’ll start with that. The way that you earn these points is by sharing the featured articles, posts, images, videos, etc., submitting a post, and getting your post approved and posted on the site. Check out this page to see exactly what your points get you http://eukanuba.voicestorm.com/Page/Points. Now, all you need to do is start making memories with your dog, posting them on this blog, and earning donations for great causes.

Animal rescue efforts cannot keep up with the number of animals needing help each day. To reach more people and spread the word about the growing need for funding and homes for animals, the networks by which word spreads need broadening. Social media remains popular with Facebook leading in popularity. Here you will find other social networking ideas to help garner interest in animal rescue efforts.


Tumblr allows members to post on any issue desired while including links to blogs, websites and YouTube. The website currently receives more the 80-million posts a day. Members post thoughts, interesting facts, videos and pictures. Gaining followers delivers more views of any website linked within.


NING sees more than 7-million users monthly. NING allows members to create their own social website for a monthly fee. They help build the website and help promote it, depending on the package chosen. With the ability to create a unique social website just for animal rescue, the potential for growth becomes larger. Through links provided in blogs at Veterinarian websites and other animal related websites, animal rescue will reach countless people.

Café Mom

MomCafe also hosts more than 7-million users every month. Members can join existing groups or create their own group to promote on the website. Working moms and stay-at-home moms use the website to share information and provide helpful tips on a variety of subjects. Animal rescue will gain followers on MomCafe when a group forms to promote the needs of animals.

Paws Hooves and Claws

New to the social media world, Paws Hooves and Claws offer a Facebook experience to animals and their owners. Through use of the group features, animal rescue will reach more people and do so in a forum specifically dedicated to animals. The website allows links to other web pages and websites for more views.


Petbook features a stray dog group devoted to animal rescues. However, the group only has five members so far. This site creates Facebook-like pages for pets and owners with social features like groups. The potential at Petbook to gain support from the public grows with the ability to write blogs and create interest on other sites, which will link to the stray dog group or a new animal rescue group.

Opportunities to gain support for animal rescue through social media expands with sites dedicated to pets and specific groups who share information daily.

You Tube has grown to be a huge website with no signs of slowing down. The videos are all user submitted, and quite a few of them are videos of their pets doing cute and silly things. A lot of these videos are popular and have acquired over millions of views. If you are in charge of an animal shelter and are looking to increase adoptions, making videos of the shelter animals may be in your best interest.

There are quite a few stars that have found their start on You Tube. Justin Beiber was discovered for his great singing talents from videos his mother submitted on the site, and now he is one of the biggest pop stars in the world. Other talented people have rose to popularity, and make a respectable living from their user submitted videos. However, some of the biggest stars on the video sharing site are not even human.

Maru the cat is a Scottish Fold cat from Japan that has become famous for doing silly stuff like jumping in boxes. It may sound silly from an outsider’s perspective, but the cat’s videos get more hits than a lot of videos starring humans. Currently, Maru’s videos have been viewed over 200 million times. Fans of these videos fawn over his cuteness, and probably wish they had a cat like him. Your shelter may not have a Maru in it, but there are probably many great dogs and cats waiting to be discovered by prospective owners. Viewers of You Tube videos may be the target audience to find your animals forever homes.

Finding forever homes for the animals in your shelter is your ultimate goal, and You Tube could help you achieve it. Someone in your town may watch a video submitted by you featuring one of your animals, and may decide to adopt it. If you make several videos, and it only results in one adoption, you can call that a success. That may be one pet adoption you would not get otherwise. Make You Tube videos featuring your shelter animals today. You’ll be glad you did.


As we work tirelessly to save America’s unwanted and neglected pets, we know that community support and high-quality volunteers are the keys to keep animal shelters running. Sometimes it may seem impossible to stay on top of educating the public, fostering support and encouraging donations from the public and recruiting new volunteers. In these areas, a well-crafted social media campaign is essential for every animal shelter.

Understanding the benefits of social media is the key towards driving behavior and garnering support, according to the business experts at Forbes Magazine. Adding social media to your community awareness toolbox is essential because:

  • Social media allows you to directly connect with the support system you already have. You can easily keep your volunteers and supporters informed by inviting them to join you on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Using social media allows you to grow your network organically.  Friends can easily invite other friends, helping you garner more support. Connecting your social media accounts to your webpage will allow casual browsers to connect with you.
  • Since social media connects you with people who already have an interest in animal rights, you can take advantage the human desire to help by posting a call to action for your animal shelter.
  • Social media helps give a face to your our cause. You can post additional photos and short bios about all the animals in need. Encourage your supports to share these posts to help increase the likelihood for animal adoption.
  • Perhaps most importantly is that using social media allows you to praise your everyday heroes. Did a family save allowance to buy some much needed supplies? Did four dogs find forever families today? Did a volunteer stay late to clean cages? Tell your Facebook fans all about it. Good news spreads like wildfire.

Of course, it takes some practice to learn how to use your new social media accounts. Be sure to keep these simple tips from the Guide Star Blog in mind when crafting your posts:

  • Facebook is excellent for announcements, praising volunteers and calls to action. Use Twitter to share bits of wisdom and answer questions from supporters. Pinterest is excellent for adding all your behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Be sure your posts are well written and tell stories. Fans connect with the human element of your organization.
  • Be clear and concise. Tell your audience exactly what you need and how it will be utilized.

Holding a special event to support your animal welfare organization is a worthwhile undertaking. After all the effort you’ve put into it, you want to make sure people attend. A truly enjoyable event will make them want to come back for future events. Following are some tips to attract people to your event.

Advertise Intelligently
Post information about your special event in local publications that offer free or inexpensive advertising. Use a publication that reaches a wider area and that will increase the number of people that read about your event. Put flyers up in pet supply stores, grocery stores and even other area shelters, if they don’t mind. Visit dog parks and talk to people about what your organization does and have flyers on hand for everyone interested.

Offer Prizes
In the advertisements for your special event mention the prizes you’ll have available. Prizes do not have to be expensive or elaborate because once people read the words “free prizes” they’ll show up just to find out what they can get. Some ideal prizes at your event can be inexpensive toys that all dogs love like tennis balls and simple toys for cats like fabric puff balls.

Have Games and Activities
Create games to have at your event and make sure you put them in your advertisements. Games for adults can include animal trivia or non-wagered cards. To entice parents with children to come, offer face painting, beanbag tossing and crafting.

Get the Community Involved
Enlist members and businesses of the community to help you before or at your event.  Offer to advertise for any local businesses in exchange for them advertising your event. Ask community members if they’re willing to donate items that can be used as prizes.

Serve Food
People are happiest when they’re having fun and eating so make sure you advertise that both will be present at your special event. Ask volunteers to whip up some goodies for your event and set up appetizer and dessert tables that are adult and kid friendly. If you want to turn the event into a casual fund raiser you can also have a mini bake sale of some of the more delectable treats like pies and cakes.

Animal lovers are a special community unto themselves and they know how much having a pet enriches their lives. Make sure your special event honors the true spirit of pet ownership.

In a world where social media has become common place in society, it is important for businesses to learn how to best utilize these new tools to advance themselves in order to reach the audiences they are looking for. Everyone is online now, whether it be on facebook, twitter or YouTube, everyone is connected, so you have to figure out how best to connect with them. YouTube is an excellent tool for animal shelters to use because it gives your potential adopters a chance to see not just pictures of the animals you have, but how the act, and how they interact, with other animals, people, and different age groups. For the adopter who is looking for just the right companion, getting a chance to see how those animals act may help them make the decision to come out to the shelter and meet that animal in person, and eventually adopt.

YouTube isn’t a difficult website to use. You can upload videos straight from your smart phone to the website as long as you have an account. This makes taking videos and sharing them with your audience extremely easy and not at all time consuming. You can take a video of a dog while taking it for a walk so that people can see how it does on the leash, or a video of a cat playing with a toy to show how playful and social it is. Social media is the best way to reach out to your base and draw in new adopters and volunteers.


Fundraising Ideas for Spring

February 12, 2013

Fundraising Ideas for the Spring

Fundraising for animal rescue shelters or any pet orientated event can be both rewarding and competitive. It’s important that each year you come up with new and innovative fundraising ideas, including the fundraiser itself and the venues. Spring can be the best time of year for that.  Keep in mind people love to spoil their pets, everything from pet supplies to insurance and pampering. Since animal rescue shelters have different types of animals, being creative with your prizes and sale items is where you can raise the most funds.
Spring fundraising can bring people outside, along with their animals so you may want to focus on events and venues that allow interaction between pet owners and volunteers. Keeping animal welfare organization directors on your “VIP” invite list builds networks and great business relationships.
Some great ideas for spring venues are listed below:

  • Pet Supply and Grooming shops are great venues to set-up a fundraiser. Usually outside the front doors. Make sure you offer the shops items at your stands, invite a few businesses to join. Pet lovers have multiple needs for pets.
  • Arrange a pet tea party and charge for admission at the door. Use a local park, spring time is perfect and no better time to meet new friends. Have a local pet caterer help you with goodies and set up tables. Offer professional pictures for a fee.
  • Spring can also bring warm enough weather to have a pet parade, charging for an entrance fee is how you can raise funds. Offer a prize for best out of three costumes.

Animal rescue shelters are run by volunteers who live and breathe for the life of animals and there are no government funds for that. Many of these shelters rely on local communities and large welfare organizations to pave the way for their future.