They Did It: Surprise Kitten Visit
One creative way to thank your supporters is to surprise them with a kitten visit! This agency spread holiday joy to local businesses with the help of some furry residents.
Who: Champaign County Humane Society, Urbana, IL
Imagine grabbing some of your staff and volunteers, donning Santa hats and walking through the door of a store to surprise unsuspecting employees... while carrying a box of kittens! That’s what Champaign County Humane Society did for some very lucky folks in several locations. These “fuzzy bombs”—as they call them—were coordinated to thank local businesses for their support.
Lots of squeals, ooohs and ahs! Employees were very happy, surprised and appreciative of both the kitten bomb and the work we do.
We spoke with CCHS Development Director Megan Wolf to hear more about their surprise kitten visits.
ASPCApro: How did you come up with this idea?
Megan Wolf: We chose a select few loyal supporters to kitten bomb during the holiday season. Rather than offer the traditional fruit basket, we wanted to do something that got to the core of our mission and reinforce our donors’ commitment to helping animals. What better way than to get them up close and personal with some of the animals we serve every day—KITTENS!
ASPCApro: How does a kitten bombing work?
MW: All businesses were contacted in advance for their approval. The fuzzy bombs were kept secret from the employees, and in many cases upper management of the company. When we arrived at a business, we set up an iHome with holiday music, and employees were called to an area where the kittens were in a gift-wrapped box (with sufficient air holes, of course).
Kitten bombs lasted 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the business and behavior of the kittens. It was important that we respect the business’ regular work day and offer a short break, rather than an all-day kitten party.
ASPCApro: What were the reactions like?
MW: Lots of squeals, ooohs and ahs! Employees were very happy, surprised and appreciative of both the kitten bomb and the work we do.
Here they are, fuzzy bombs from last year in action—complete with festive music!
ASPCApro: How did you choose the right kitty candidates for the job?
MW: The kittens were young enough that they could be handled without getting too squirmy, but old enough that it was safe—about eight weeks old. The animals selected for a fuzzy bomb depended on their health, behavior and who we had in the shelter.
ASPCApro: What is the staff/volunteer requirement to pull off something like this?
MW: The size of the company being visited determined the number of volunteers or staff that accompanied the kitten bomb. As expected, we received many questions about the kittens, our operations, adoptions, etc. It was a wonderful outreach opportunity as well as a feel-good moment for supporters.
ASPCApro: Have any adoptions resulted from your visits?
MW: There was no intention of making the kitten bombs an adoption event, but one kitten was adopted because of a love connection. The adopter went through regular adoption procedures.
ASPCApro: Can someone request a visit?
MW: Fuzzy bombs are not regularly offered to the public, although we have had requests for them. At our annual fundraising dinner/auction in October, we auctioned off an opportunity to underwrite an adoption promotion with a fuzzy bomb to the highest bidder. Two of the adoption promotions and fuzzy bombs were sold for $2,100 each.
Now You Try It:
ASPCApro: Any suggestions for agencies wanting to give this a try?
MW: An extra kitten box with extra bedding is HIGHLY recommended. Luckily, we only had one poop incident, which happened en route to the business. As always, the animals’ health and well-being are the most important thing when considering taking them to visit local businesses. The animals included in fuzzy bombs are very carefully selected.
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