Finding homes for hundreds of animals at a time? Pretty impossible to resist—so don't! Instead, read the tips from the webinar, "Breaking Down a Super Adoption Event: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts," presented by Julie Castle, Director of Programs and Services for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT, along with Best Friends Founding Board Member Francis Battista.
Return on Investment—Not the Animal
Don't be afraid of "Drive-by Adoptions." In fact, encourage them. Remember, you're creating a festival atmosphere and bringing the animals to the people to expand the market for shelter animals. Most of these adoptions work out. Return rates from super adoptions are very low.
Super Adoptions Are Like Chinatown
If you have two Chinese restaurants in one area, it's competition. But if you have a whole bunch of Chinese restaurants, it becomes Chinatown—a major visitor attraction. The increased traffic to your event benefits all the shelters/rescues involved.
Agree to Disagree
Of course it's less confusing for the public if all the agencies agree to uniform fees, adoption policies and paperwork for the day; however, if that seems to be a stumbling block, letting each group charge its own fees and use its own procedures works very well, too. Just be sure to make clear your basic ground rules for animals brought to the event—spay/neuter, vaccinations, crates and leashes, etc.
What, Pay For It Ourselves?
Super Adoption events are expensive. Try to cover most costs on someone else's dime through sponsorships, in-kind donations and vendor fees (which work better than asking for a percentage of sales). For example, car dealerships make great sponsors—you can make your event part car showroom and part adoption event.
Know Your Place
Location is key. Try to find a pleasant place, such as a park or race track, that is well known in the community, has plenty of space and parking and is visible from the freeway. People will see the tents and stop by.
Friends, Not Foes
Don't be afraid of fights among animals—or among participating groups. If the event is well run, neither will be an issue. There may be some drama, but planning an event of this magnitude tends to minimize group differences, foster cooperation and bring out the best in people.
Perch Up the Purry Ones
There's usually more interest in the dogs, so place cats right by the entrance so everyone will see them. And provide special meet-n-greet cat areas with proper ventilation and shade.
When planning your PR and marketing, think like a politician. Politicians are the "hungry marketers" and know how to get their messages to the people. Good promotional tools include:
Bet You Always Wanted to Say "Media Blitz"
Here are a few examples of how to use the media:
Leftovers Are Better the Next Day
Have a plan for the ones who don't get adopted. An effective system is to see if your rescue groups will take those animals, freeing up space at the shelters for intake.
Think Beyond the Adoption
In addition to adoptions, these events provide opportunities for rescues to gain visibility in the community and get to know each other. They also create opportunities for conversations with the public and media about pet homelessness. Remember, you can do these events year after year and attract a bigger crowd every time.