By Tori Fugate, Chief Communications Officer at KC Pet Project
On March 17th at KC Pet Project in Kansas City, MO we had 676 pets in our care with 356 of those in foster. By March 25th, we had increased our number in foster to 500 pets. Now on April 6th, we do not have one single pet available for adoption at our physical shelter – instead all our available pets are now living outside of the shelter in foster homes.
Now, we are shifting our entire marketing strategy to promoting these pets and allocating resources to our foster program and those who manage it.
How are we doing this?
Through emails and text messages to our foster community, we’re working to gather photos of the pets in their foster homes and information so our team can help write bios for the website and social media posts. These communications are mainly coming from volunteers who are helping us while they’re at home. They gather the photos and data for bios and we upload them into PetPoint and use them for social media marketing. KC Pet Project also has an internal Facebook Group for all our fosters where they can share photos of their pets, ask questions to other fosters, and just be a part of the community.
With limited volunteer opportunities now at our shelter and so many volunteers working from home, they are begging us for projects for them. Volunteers have taken over all our pre-appointment calls with new fosters to help match them up with a pet and talk about who we have available for them to take. Volunteers are also calling and/or texting the new fosters once they’ve taken an animal in their home to see how it’s going and if they need any help and helping them write bios.
We’re constantly shifting the way that we’re processing adoptions through this pandemic. We’ve now gone to scheduled meet n’ greets for any fosters who want to meet with families at the campus, so we will know when they’re coming, allocate staff to help, and get all of the parties in and out of the shelter as quickly as possible. For those who have been doing Facetime/Zoom meet n’ greets, we’ve set up a virtual adoption process where the entire process can be done online and the foster transports the pet to the adopters home.
We built an internal page for our website that only our fosters can access that has all of the resources that they need. Through this, they can find all of their necessary contacts, schedule meet n’ greets with potential families, and access tips and tricks to get their pets adopted. We’re constantly adding to this page, but so far, it has been very useful for our new fosters.
With so many new fosters, we’re basically teaching them Animal Marketing 101. Sharing resources with them on how to take great photos, how to write a bio, what to say if someone is interested in their pet, and how to facilitate a meet n’ greet, is important.
Here is a great list of resources to get them started:
We ask all of our fosters to help us market their foster animal and answer any inquiries about their pet with potential families that are sent to our organization emails accounts.
We plan to have weekly Zoom webinars and training time with our fosters to offer tips and tricks on how to get their pets adopted, answer any questions that they have, and see how everything is going.
As more pets are moved into foster homes, we’re utilizing non-essential staff working from home to assist with all the customer service emails, adoption inquiries, and making sure that all fosters have their questions answered. Each of our foster managers (one for dogs, one for cats) has an “assistant” staff member who can support the program on the manager’s day off, help gather supplies and assist with emails/phone calls from fosters with questions, needs, etc. We communicated with our team members that they may have to perform “other duties as assigned” during this pandemic, and they have been super eager to jump in and help where needed.