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A Campaign in Review or, How You ROCKED Adoption Ambassadors 2016!

The ASPCA’s B.J. Rogers shares a quick snapshot of last year’s campaign results. The clear winner? Cats!


We’re pretty fortunate. Every year, we have the honor of partnering with lifesaving organizations from around the country. Over time, those partnerships have yielded tremendous returns for the field as a whole. Think fee-waived adoptions. Pets as gifts. Meet Your Match. Each of these research partnerships led to actionable intel that helped shelters and rescues across the country save more lives.

A few years back, we partnered with LA/SPCA and Charleston Animal Society to learn more about the impacts of using volunteers as adoption agents, placing animals from home-to-home outside of the shelter walls. We first learned about the concept of LA/SPCA’s “Fast Track” during the 2010 $100K Challenge; today, we call the program Adoption Ambassadors, and in 2015 and 2016, more than 1,000 organizations signed up to give it a whirl.


Could you successfully apply the concept to cats?
At the start of the 2016 campaign, we issued a challenge: Figure out how to successfully apply the concept to cats. Geez did you deliver! Though the Adoption Ambassadors program was created to serve dogs at-risk in shelters—and despite the challenges associated with including cats (after all, most felines don’t love being leashed and walked in hopes of meeting a potential adopter!)—cats were last year’s clear winners.

In 2016 alone, more than 625 shelters and rescues took the pledge to implement or expand an Adoption Ambassadors program—and a little over 100 of those received funding support from the ASPCA. We’ve tallied a few numbers as a snapshot of the impact the 6-month campaign had. Those that received small grants from us provided data to help us understand impact:

- Out of 100 shelters, 4,824 cats were adopted by Ambassadors between June and December!
- In total, these cats made up 9% of all the adoptions done by grantees (not just by Ambassadors themselves, but 9% of TOTAL adoptions).

Never mind that of the 7,400 or so adoptions done by Ambassadors (including dogs and cats), more than 65% of those were cats. That’s no surprise when you look at programs like the “Traveling Fosters” at the HSWC in Maryland, where ambassadors are sending cats home by the hundreds!

If you’ve got a preference for the pups, don’t fret; overall, Adoption Ambassadors dog adoptions represented 6% of total adoptions, and both dog adoptions and adoption rate increased as well.

Did you catch that number? More than 7,400 adoptions in 6 months... done by VOLUNTEERS! What an incredible way to expand reach, increase capacity and bring even more people and pets together.

If you’re from an organization that tried out the Adoption Ambassadors concept, we salute you. With more than 625 organizations in the mix, and with those 7,400 adoptions representing less than 1/6 of that group, we’ve little doubt that thousands more lives—of both people and pets—were impacted by your willingness to try something new.

If this is all new to you—or you’ve heard of the concept but been unsure whether it’s the right fit—let the numbers inspire you! There’s no time like today. Start small. See how it goes. Find resources and support here, and use the comments section to share your learnings and ask questions of your colleagues.


B.J. Rogers, CAWA, ASPCA Vice President, ProLearning, is a former shelter chief executive whose experiences working in politics, higher education, LGBTQ youth advocacy and animal welfare have convinced him that people are the solution, not the problem.




Related Links

The Research Behind Adoption Ambassadors
Blog: “When the Checks Create Imbalances”