One question we hear a lot – whether it’s kitten season, the holidays, or pretty much any time – is “How can we recruit new fosters?”
The ASPCA’s Meow For Now national foster campaign team has five focus areas that can yield purr-worthy results.
1. Social Media
It’s no surprise that social media can be a powerful platform for finding new fosters. Here are great ways to get started:
Share photos, videos, and compelling stories of a real pet who needs a foster home. Make sure to include in your caption that this pet might be adopted at any time, but there are plenty of other animals in your care who still need a foster family.
Use popular hashtags on Instagram and Twitter like #FosterFriday, #CatsOfInstagram and #DogsOfInstagram to increase your reach.
Direct people to your shelter or rescue by including a webpage link to your foster page on every social media post and in the URL section of your Instagram profile bio. And if you don’t have a dedicated foster page with a link to the application, be sure you let potential fosters how they can get started.
Try Facebook advertising like Jacksonville Kitten Army did. With a paid targeting strategy driving traffic to your foster webpage, you can deliver ads to individuals by zip codes and based on interests like cats. Learn more about Facebook advertising here.
2. Traditional Media
Spread the word through your local newspaper, radio and television outlets. Get started by researching reporters and producers who are animal lovers and provide them with a solid media pitch. Here are some suggestions for what to include in the pitch:
Call to action: why you need foster caretakers and how people can sign up for a foster orientation
Offer an interview with one of your experts
Provide new, newsworthy data about animal intake
Share compelling stories of foster kittens and foster caretakers
You can also offer to bring kittens or puppies to a news outlet to create a fun and engaging atmosphere, while showing real kittens who need real help!
3. Nextdoor App
Purr Nation Cat Alliance found success getting foster volunteers to post sign-up information on their behalf on Nextdoor, the free and private neighborhood network app.
Consider asking your most active and trusted fosters to post about upcoming orientations. It’s an easy way to reach interested people from different neighborhoods.
4. Word of Mouth
We may be in a digital age, but don’t forget about the easiest way to spread the word: word of mouth! Talk about your foster program everywhere you can. Have flyers and other information available at adoption events (and at colleges and universities, senior centers, and the like) for people who may not be ready to adopt but want to help.
Encourage your fosters to talk to their friends and family. Discuss foster opportunities during volunteer orientations and with potential adopters.
If volunteers are coming in to help your shelter or rescue, they are already showing a commitment to helping your cause. Consider giving them more options to be able to help, like taking a pet into their home temporarily.
5. Host (Or Attend) Events
A fun event can re-engage former foster parents and entice new, prospective foster families at the same time. Having both on hand is ideal, since experienced fosters can teach new arrivals the ropes.
An event with high community appeal, such as a kitten shower, is made even more engaging by including refreshments, gifts, guest speakers and fun activities.
You can also find local events in your community where pet lovers will be and set up a booth with flyers and foster applications so people can sign up on the spot. Pet conferences, adoption events, pet stores and community events like fairs are all places where groups have found success recruiting new foster families.