With the holidays in full swing and time off from school and work, people in your community are ready to give back!! The public is always looking for organizations to support and fun things to do with their families around the holidays. Here are a few of our no-fail favorites to help engage your community to support your shelter or rescue group during the holidays!
Your shelter is full of homeless pets. Why not let the public take them home over their holiday break? Field trips and short term fostering are the latest hits in animal welfare. Read our blog about how fostering is the future.
At Austin Pets Alive! when short term fosters are requested, people line up around the corner, ready to take a pet for a weekend or up to two weeks of time in order to give the pet a break from the shelter environment. It will also teach you a ton about what the animal is like in a home to make their adoption profile even more appealing to adopters. And who knows! Maybe the foster will end up wanting to keep them forever!
Keep in mind, you will need to set up some rules for your short term foster program to keep things running smoothly.
Every shelter has a staff member or volunteer who’d be willing to spend a few hours in a chair, on a backdrop dressed as Santa. Post an event on social media that anyone from the public, adopted pets, existing shelter animals and pets adopted that day can get their photo taken with Santa on site! This is a project that can be run almost exclusively by volunteers. Set up a schedule for people to sign up for a time slot and pay in advance by using acuityscheduling.com! Ask for a donation for the photos and email the photos the next day. You could take this idea to the next level by requesting a talented volunteer photographer that can get high quality photos and send a public Dropbox link to be shared with attendees. Photos with Santa brings foot traffic, awareness of your shelter and if you email the event to local media, they might even come to cover the event too!
As a fundraiser, offer kennel sponsorships as a unique gift for the family member or friend who “has everything” or is simply hard to shop for! Heartwarming and meaningful, sponsoring a kennel is a fun way to engage the community in decorating a kennel and sharing about the pet who spends most of their time in that space. Giving many opportunities for the community to support homeless pets makes them feel good and kennel sponsorships can boost your budget too! Also, partner with a local printer to help make memorable paper ornaments that sponsors can take home to hang on their tree.
When it comes to shelter supplies, it seems there’s never too much pet food, toys, beds, blankets and treats! Ask your supporters for donations of these items during the holidays to keep shelter pets as warm and happy as they can be until they’re adopted. You could also try asking followers to host donation drives at their businesses to support the shelter. Make sure to snap photos of donors for social media to thank the community for support.
Sometimes, dogs need special cooked meals of chicken and rice because of dietary restrictions. Your community can help by providing cooked meals. Austin Pets Alive! calls this volunteer program “Team Tummy.” While APA! does have a primary food sponsor, Merrick Pet Care & Purposeful Pet Food by Castor & Pollux, Team Tummy helps them feed the dogs with special dietary restrictions. This is a really easy way for volunteers to help out around the shelter, without having to brave the cold weather! They simply cook the meals at home and bring them to your shelter.
If you have questions or additional ideas for this blog and ways to encourage your community to save lives, email us at [email protected].