Fee-Waived Cat Promotions: Shelter Tested and Approved
If you are a regular reader here at Shelters’ Edge, or if you frequent our website and catch us on Facebook, you’ve likely heard us boast the benefits of free cat adoptions. Many agencies have signed on to this idea, but some remain skeptical about the quality of adoptions or the prospect of returns.
So don’t just take it from us – check out how your peers have put fee-waived promotions in action.
Citizens For Animal Protection, Houston, TX
The event: “Save More Lives…One Tail at a Time,” a two-day adoption event last August during which all cats were free.
The result: In two days, the agency – a top-ten finisher in last year’s $100K Challenge – achieved:
- 143 adoptions – compared to the 80 animals adopted the previous year during the same two-day period!
- $1,056 in donations
- 653 visitors
Secret to their success: Promotion, promotion, promotion! This flyer, pictured below, went out to the media attached to 2,000 pizza boxes (!!!) and was placed all over Houston.
Advice to other agencies: “Go for it!!! This was our first one and everyone was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the adopters that came to CAP, says JoAnne Jackson, CAP Director of Operations. “And when I walked into the next managers’ meeting, the first question I got was, ‘When can we do it again?’”
Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, Lewiston, ME
Why they tried fee-waived: “We really wanted to end 2011 with a boom,” says Zach Black, Operations Manager at GAHS, the 2011 Challenge Northeast Region winner. “But when looking at our cat adoptions for December 2010, the numbers looked rather sad. So we decided to throw an end-of-the-year fee-waived adult cat promotion.”
The event: The month-long promotion ran from December 1-31.
The results: For one, foot traffic increased so much they had to call in extra volunteer back-up just about every weekend and some weekdays. And as for the numbers, reports Zach, “In December 2011, we placed 117 cats over 6 months of age into new homes; the year before we had placed only 52.”
Secrets to their success:
- Slammin’ signage. “It’s amazing what happens when you throw a ‘FREE!’ sign on the cat condos; people go wild (in a good way)!”
- Slammin’ media coverage. “Taking advantage of free media sources is key when throwing a promotion. TV stations, radio stations and newspapers are great.”
Advice for other agencies: Utilize the power of Facebook. “When we first started posting about our end-of-the-year fee waiver, over 200 people would share the post,” reports Zach. “But you need to continue to post about the event all month long – the promotion will quickly die off if you don’t keep people in tune with what is going on.”
Humane Society for Greater Savannah, Savannah, GA
The event: HSGS, winner of the Community Engagement prize in last year’s $100K Challenge, regularly holds free cat promotions on the fly that range from 1-3 days, usually giving their community a couple days’ notice. “We ask folks to bring an item off our wish list in lieu of an adoption fee,” says Director of Operations Guinn Friedman.
The result: In Friedman’s words, their numbers skyrocket! “A normal day for us is 6-10 adoptions, a mix of dogs and cats, but when we post ‘free,’ that number raises to between 15- 20,” says Guinn. “We have realized that the only promotions that work here in Savannah are when we remove the adoption fee.”
The secret to their success: For HSGS, social media is key. They post their fee-waived events on Facebook and Twitter, and let visitors know they should check those pages for upcoming promos. “We post ‘free cats’ on our Facebook page when we are full, hope for the best, then celebrate when we have open cages,” says Guinn.
Advice for other agencies: A fee, even a small one, is still a fee. “Our cat adoption fee is only $10 any day of the week. It is amazing that even $10 gets in the way of adopting a pet,” says Guinn. “All of our follow-ups have been positive and we have not had any returns due to financial reasons. JUST DO IT!”