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Breaking news! Announcing the three Community Engagement Award finalists in this year’s ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. Give it up for Canyon County Animal Shelter in Caldwell, ID, Humane Society for Greater Savannah in Savannah, GA, and Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport, MS.
The Community Engagement Award is a $25,000 grant recognizing the $100K Challenge contestant that does the best job of getting their community members directly involved in saving lives. So what did these three agencies—all three seasoned Challenge alums—do to get their communities saving more lives?
Up in Caldwell the theme was foster, foster, foster. While Canyon County Animal Shelter (CCAS) ran lots of cool events and promotions to keep the public coming for animals, they worked continually to expand their shelter’s capacity with foster families. And they even use their fosters’ own words—and this Norman Rockwell-esque photo—to recruit more fosters, like in this sweet Mother’s Day post from a CCAS foster mom.
Andrea writes, “Yes, I have my hands full, but my heart is even fuller…it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
And CCAS cleverly shows the families behind the magic—enticing their followers to picture themselves as future lifesavers. Seems to work, too, since CCAS increased their foster families by 50 during the contest.
Meanwhile, the folks at Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) have a knack for enlisting new segments of their population by bringing the animals TO the people. And they do that not just through events like their Adopt Across the Coast, in which they had animals available for adoption in 18 locations across a 3-county area.
They also tap into the heart of their community with fun and relevant promotions that get people to think, “Hey, that’s me they’re talking to.” See, for example, their Hairball for Men club.
And for families with kids, HSSM helps inspire good grades by offering $10 off for every A on a report card. Meet Jillian, who earned all As to take sweet Zappy home. (Her brother seems pretty happy about her grades—or maybe the kitty—too.)
Humane Society for Greater Savannah (HSGS), winner of the Community Engagement Award in 2011, made magic through partnership. If you run a shelter or rescue, you already know how critical partnership is to success in this business, and you also know just how hard it is to develop and maintain. But HSGS and Savannah Chatham Animal Control staff and volunteers have shouldered-in together to save more than 700 lives this summer.
And that kind of in-the-trenches-together hard work is the best foundation of all for a lasting relationship that will result in many thousands more lives saved throughout the next months and years. Recognizing that it takes all kinds of partnerships to save more lives, HSGS enlisted lots and lots of other partners, too—like individuals who sponsored the adoption fees for one—or many—animals, and this fun crew that went to a ball game and flash mobbed in between innings.
The three agencies did their part, now we’ve got to do ours. Five ASPCA judges have the difficult task of poring over hundreds of Facebook posts to determine which of these agencies did the very best job of getting community members directly involved in saving lives this summer. It won’t be easy, but it will—no doubt—be engaging.