It seems that most animal rescue organizations can never find enough foster homes. We often hear “If we only had more fosters we could…” (insert your favorite program here). So let’s lay it out there. There are 323 million people in the U.S. alone and ~70 million households with pets. Lots of people to choose from in other words, so let’s talk about how to find them and spark your thinking on innovative programs to grow your team.
However, before we highlight the ways to advertise and bring in new applicants, we recommend that you first revisit your foster application process to ensure it’s streamlined and ready for the influx of volunteers that will be coming your way. How hard is it to sign-up to be a foster with your organization? Do you have an online form or require people to come in to get a paper application? How long does it take to fill out the form and how arduous is the application? Do you require training for fosters and can they take that training online? If you’re having trouble signing up fosters you should consider how difficult it is to work with your organization and get signed up.
Now, onto the marketing!
Traditional ways – Advertising to find new fosters should be a part of the communication channels that you already have with your fosters and potential fosters. Highlighting the need in newsletters, on your websites, and in your social media pages just to name a few places to start. You do mention how to be a foster in your email tagline right? And, if you have a physical facility, be sure you have giant posters that grab people’s attention with fun turns on phrases like “I want YOU to foster me” or “Can I crash on your couch please?” All of these traditional ways are great ideas to introduce people to the idea of being a foster.
Online portals – If you haven’t checked around in a while, there are a number of online portals that have loads of volunteers that you can tap into for your local organization. Here’s a few that we recommend to check out.
- Doobert.com (https://www.doobert.com) – Doobert is an online technology platform dedicated to animal rescue. They allow volunteers of all types to sign-up, including fosters, and they allow organizations to search their registry to find fosters, photographers and even in-person volunteers to support your organization. It’s free and easy to use.
- Volunteermatch.org (https://www.volunteermatch.
org) – VolunteerMatch has been around a while and has an extensive reach. They allow all types of non-profit organizations to post needs for volunteers. They also partner with Linkedin.com so many of your postings will end up on that site as well. Be sure your ad is catchy so you can stand out.
Think non-traditional – The first two resources should get you going to bring in foster volunteers to support your program. But if you really want to take your program to the next level you’ll have to step outside of your comfort zone and think non-traditional. How many hotels are there where you are located? Probably way more than you can count right? Why not partner with the hotels to serve as foster home ambassadors. Check out this article from BarkPost on hotels and organizations that are doing just that (http://humor.barkpost.com/5-
What creative foster attraction ideas do you have? Tell us and we’d be happy to share!