How to Take Animal Sheltering Operations Online During a Crisis
Due to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines that prevent in-person gatherings, more and more events are being held online. From streaming concerts to virtual adoption events and digital happy hours, people around the world are actively leveraging technology to find ways to connect with one another.
If you can no longer hold an event, conference, or training session in person, consider moving it online. We put together a plethora of resources for animal welfare professionals on how to hold a successful virtual event.
Leverage Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Live
With people tuning into social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, there's no better time than now to go live and reach more people. Follow these step-by-step instructions for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter live. Facebook has even added new features, including audio-listening capabilities, automatic closed captions and the ability for individuals without a Facebook account to watch in an effort to make live video content more interactive. Learn more details about the recent changes.
Here are some examples of live events to get you started:
- Consider hosting a virtual adoption event by live streaming from the shelter, barn or foster parent's home. Check out this example of an adoption livestream from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.
- Give a behind-the-scenes tour of your shelter facility and promote the animals available for adoption.
- Be inspired by San Diego Humane Society’s virtual adoption experience.
Create a Facebook Event
Did your organization have to cancel or postpone an event? Consider hosting it virtually, like Urban Cat Coalition! Create a Facebook event where people can RSVP and share with their friends to spread the word. If you're hosting an online donation drive, include a link to your organization's Amazon wish list or add a list of needed supplies and include where donors can ship them. Some other virtual event ideas include a raffle, a staff and volunteer meetup or a tutorial for foster parents on enrichment ideas. And, don't forget to share the event details across all your organization's marketing channels to get more people involved!
Online fundraising is more important than ever. See how your organization can use Facebook donate tools to help manage and recover from the impact of this pandemic:
- Ask your dedicated volunteers to create a Facebook fundraiser on your behalf or simply add the donate sticker on their Instagram stories.
- Consider adding a donate button to a Facebook Live video, like KC Pet Project.
- Get even more tips on Facebook fundraising by watching this webinar recording presented by experts from Facebook and The Dodo.
Provide virtual tutorials for foster parents
In-person training sessions aren’t recommended at this time, but that doesn't mean your organization can't on-board new volunteers or foster parents or provide other trainings. Simply create an online presentation for volunteers to watch and learn more about getting involved with your organization. You can also encourage volunteers to take advantage of free webinars. Check out the library of available trainings on aspcapro.org. You can also ask staff to film "hands-on" tutorials. For example, show how to make enrichment toys that can be used in the shelter, like Sacremento SPCA .
Share social stories
Make sure to stay active on social media and showcase animals available for adoption or share ways that the community can help.
- Create Instagram and Facebook stories to highlight the animals in foster homes or available for adoption by appointment at your shelter. Use GIFs to add animation and popular hashtags to increase the reach.
- Promote recent adoptions and happy tails.
- Consider jumping on the TikTok trend to share enrichment videos or funny things foster pets do at home. Use trending songs and hashtags to increase the number of views.
Looking for more ways to engage your community? Check out these examples from the field:
- Wisconsin Humane Society shared this direct ask highlighting their biggest needs on Facebook
- Humane Rescue Alliance promoted these volunteer projects that can be done from inside the home
- Animal Centers of NYC launched this activity for kids that helps promote animals available for adoption
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