How to Empty Your Shelter by Friday
How to Empty Your Shelter by Friday
High traffic Thursdays? Nebraska Humane Society (NHS) conducted a weekday sale that broke their adoption records and very nearly emptied their shelter. Find out what they did and how you can replicate their success.
Have you ever said, "We are almost empty!!!" on a weekday? Nikki Harris, Nebraska Humane Society's Director of Training and Placement, recently had the pleasure of declaring just that statement. She explained further, "The last available cat was adopted at 6:15 p.m., and we were left with just two dogs available at closing time."
Back in September, once the kids went back to school, NHS' weekday adoption traffic grew sluggish and they were close to running out of space, so they tried a three-day sale. That Wednesday Friday, they offered free adult cats (5 months +) plus dogs and puppies for just $50. The residents of Omaha responded like crazy: 239 adoptions in 3 weekdays including a one-day record of 119 adoptions on Thursday. To keep up with the shelter's constant intake, they are now proactively offering half-price dogs and puppies every Monday Thursday as well as pick-your-price cat sales. Nikki reports their euthanasia rates have been drastically reduced.
Your shelter can achieve record-breaking success too, by trying a similar path as NHS. Their campaign has three key elements:
1. Free and reduced fees on adult cats and discounted fees on dogs and puppies. ASPCA research has found no difference in the bond between adopters who paid a fee and adopters who didn't. Our research also shows that adoptions increase and shelter income does not decrease as a result of waived and reduced fees.
2. Marketing. NHS took advantage of free radio interviews, and gets the word out about their sales via social media, their web site, and newspaper ads. Gather ideas for your campaign there are many ways to tell your story and increase public awareness of your animals, services, and promotions.
3. Spay/Neuter. Before the big sale, NHS's surgery staff performed a marathon day of surgeries to have a kennel full of ready-for-adoption animals. Plan ahead and have your animals ready to go home.
What Story Do Your Cage Cards Tell?
Cage cards and online descriptions are snapshots into an animal's personality. Written well, they may lead to shorter lengths of stay and lasting matches. Written poorly or even worse, having no description could mean a long, bumpy road ahead for that animal. The devil is truly in the details. Check out these insights and tools for writing compelling and truthful descriptions which will catch potential adopter's eyes and hearts:
Bottom line: be honest, have fun, and keep things simple for adopters. Your words paint a picture and that picture could ultimately save an animal's life.
Start Conversations about Your Animals
Facebook is more than a website; it's a door to two-way conversations between people and between organizations and people. Facebook boasts more than 300 million active users more than a million of them log in to Facebook daily. And many, many of them love animals. These users could be your agency's next adopter, donor, or volunteer, or just somebody who likes your cute puppy photos and shares them with friends. Are you connecting with these folks? Are they connecting with you? Start conversing! Make the most of Facebook's free opportunity to promote your animals and services by posting regularly. Your fans will help spread your news.
Like any other communication vehicle, Facebook done right requires planning, commitment, and good content. Consider trying these tips to get you rolling on Facebook or to refresh your existing strategy:
Another Great Resource for Nonprofits: Gifts In Kind International
Gifts In Kind International (GIKI) is a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits by distributing corporate product donations. GIKI corporate donors include companies like Home Depot; Hewlett Packard; Bed, Bath & Beyond; and Whirlpool. Gifts In Kind could help your agency secure a variety of donated goods you could use, including:
Consider joining the GIKI network to gain full access to their online catalog of donated inventory stored across the country you'll only pay for shipping costs. Become a member and partner with local retail stores in your community. Pay an annual partnership fee to pick up products in your own community, cutting out shipping fees.
Shelters in FL, CO & NY Finalists for $25K
No stone was left unturned and no segment of the community ignored as our ASPCA $100K Challenge contestants reached out for unprecedented support in their quest to become the top vote getters for the $25,000 Community Engagement Award. Meet the three finalists (who saved at least 300 more animals Aug. 1 Oct. 31 than they saved during the same period last year and got the most online votes):
1. Top vote getter Tallahassee Leon Community Animal Service Center (FL) kicked off their Challenge planning by gathering "a group of committed pet lovers to brainstorm on how to build the best community outreach campaign possible." They developed an ambitious, branded, multi-faceted "Reach for the Stars" campaign designed to touch everyone from celebrities to school children.
2. Humane Society of Boulder Valley (Boulder, CO) faced a challenge of its own when forest fires ravaged nearby. They proved their relevance in the community by providing temporary shelter for displaced animals and treating fire victims whose families couldn't be located. At the same time, they extensively used local and national bloggers, Facebook, and Twitter to gain support for their Challenge candidacy.
3. Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society (Menands, NY) formed an alliance with the local Civil Service Employees Association; ran a series of entertaining PSA's featuring local television celebrities; and placed 500 "Got Pets" lawn signs all over town. The Community Engagement Award winner will be announced in a few weeks. Visit the Challenge Blogs to learn about the strategies all of our contestants used to engage their communities.