6 Social Media Strategies for Dog Rescues & Shelters

2 Mar

social-media-strategies-for-dog-rescues

Even though we’d been talking about (and looking into) adopting a dog, the week we adopted Topher was a whirlwind event. It started with a photo in my Facebook feed, shared by a local rescue group; less than 48 hours later, Topher was settling into his new home. Whether this is a normal scenario or not, one thing is clear: social media changed the game for rescue groups and shelters, for better or for worse.

Currently, social media is heavily integrated into our daily lives; it’s only natural for companies and charities alike to leverage it for greater success. In many cases, non-profits like animal rescues and shelters don’t have as many resources at their disposal, nor do they possess the time or tools to craft the viral, spot on messaging you see from big corporations. We all love to commiserate over the emotional power of those Sarah McLachlan commercials, but can social media strategies for dog rescues attract even a fraction of that response? We think so. Here are just a few ways rescue groups and shelters can make the most of their social media accounts.

Cover The Basics

Though it seems obvious, many small organizations seem to operate online without any clear contact information or “calls to action.” If your goal is for interested parties to get in touch with you, this is a huge mistake! Make sure information is correct and clearly listed on all social media channels you operate. The website link you use on all accounts should also be the link you want to direct the majority of your audience too. That means if you’d rather send potential adoptive families straight to Facebook, always link to it directly in every profile!

In the same vein, always make sure you’re sharing photos of adoptable animals with all important information a potential adopter will need—location, ID numbers, availability date, contact info—so it will follow that pet’s photo if it’s shared by other people.

Focus on Photos

One picture is worth a thousand words—or at least a few hundred retweets—when it’s a good one. We’ve shared tips for taking great photos of your pets that you can use regardless of your equipment setup. It doesn’t take a big, expensive setup to take a lovely photo of a dog! If we could give one tip to every shelter and rescue group, it’s this: get out of the cage, or even get out of the building if you can. Natural light and a little time out in a grassy area with a camera (or just a phone) will help show off an adoptable dog’s “good side” and keep their mugshots from looking the same as all the rest a potential family might be hunting though.

Simple, Positive, Honest

Once you have a photo, it’s time to share a dog’s story and rustle up potential adopters. These are the three pillars of messaging we feel every shelter and rescue group should focus on.

Simple: Pick out two or three of the best qualities this dog may have, and write one or two short sentences about them. While it might be tempting to write out an entire life story to set a dog apart from the masses, sticking to a few positive qualities will give potential adopters something to latch onto and remember, without diving into four paragraphs on why this particular dog is so great. Social media moves faster everyday—keep things as short and sweet as possible.

Positive: Some dogs come from truly terrible situations and are literally fighting for their lives when they arrive with rescues or shelters. In those cases, it’s common to showcase their story, because those kinds of situations and how a dog survives them will dictate their story as they move through the rescue system.

However, a majority of dogs come into rescues with no backstory, or a pretty common one: they simply aren’t wanted. In these cases, it’s better to focus on the positive. Don’t demonize previous owners or dwell on past transgressions. Focus on the reasons why this dog is ready for a new home with the right family, and those families will—with any luck—be drawn to those positive messages.

Honest: Rescue dogs can sometimes be tricky to place, and it’s important for shelters to be honest about a dog’s potential issues. Animal reactivity, experience with children, and any special needs should always be clearly listed when you’re giving a description of an adoptable dog. All of these things help potential adoptive families to see, at a glance, if this dog is one they can work with or not.

Go Local

If your rescue is not focused on getting out of state adoption placements or transporting animals, it’s important to stay local in your social media efforts. List your location when sharing animals, target your post with that location on Facebook and Instagram. Make use of local hashtags when it’s relevant, or create your own so local audiences can track your new rescues and success stories.

Give Updates

Even if a dog’s status hasn’t changed, it can be helpful to share new photos of them—perhaps with something you learned about them recently—to keep any dogs from falling through the cracks. Smaller rescues can even go as far as keeping a Facebook album for each of their dogs, updating with new photos or new encounters when applicable.

Share Successes

If one of your dogs has been recently adopted, share it! Happy endings and positive messages are shared more often and more widely, so any good news for you is also good news your followers can help celebrate right along with you.

5 Ways To Donate To Rescues With Your Daily Habits

9 Jul

donating-to-rescue-groups

It’s science: donating to charities makes you feel more fulfilled. However, when money is tight, sometimes writing a check to your favorite rescue is the last thing on your mind for that extra $10 or $20 you might have. But there are other ways you can feel like you’re giving a little extra, even when you don’t have much to give. Here are 5 ways you can donate to rescue and charities by tweaking just a few of your simple daily habits.

Use A Charity Credit Card

Credit cards for causes typically donate a portion of each transaction to the charity linked to the card. Some are branded with the organization, like Chase’s World Wildlife Fund card; others allow you to give the donation to the cause of your choice.

Each contribution is pretty small, from 0.3 percent to 1 percent of each transaction. However, each bit adds up when multiplied over many transactions and card holders.

Don’t use a credit card? Some banks also offer programs that link checking and debit cards to charity. However, the contributions tend to be much smaller than credit card transactions.

To give even more, you could also opt into a rewards credit card that offers cash back, then donate the cash back directly to the charity of your choice. The charity will receive a larger donation than they might through a cause-specific card, and the tax deduction will belong to you instead of the credit card company. However, this depends on your self-discipline in getting that check and handing it over. 😉

Donate By Searching

That’s right, you can give money while you search for things on the internet. GoodSearch is a search tool that partners with charity organizations and gives money when you search the web.

It works like this: search engines make a fair amount of their money from their advertisers. GoodSearch tracks and directs these search-generated proceeds to causes. So, a portion of advertiser dollars earned as a result of your search are passed along to the organization you’ve chosen to support. Pretty cool, huh?

Shop Online

Similar to donating while you search, there are several sites now dedicated to donating while you shop! As if we needed more reasons to shop online. Goodshop, Buy 4, and We Care are all websites that allow you to shop for a cause, with a percentage of each purchase going to that cause.

Walking Your Dog!

That’s right, give money by walking your dog. The app Woof Trax works by having you select the shelter or rescue you’re walking for, tracking your mileage while walking, and then crediting your selected rescue at the end of the walk.

Donations to animal organizations are funded by sponsorship, advertising, and investors. Woof Trax sends donations to active shelters and rescues about twice per year.

Get Involved In Local Community Efforts

Many rescues often partner with local businesses to put on charity events or fund drives to raise money. See what rescues are putting on events in your area, and what benefit they see from it. Around us, we’re signed up as a charity shopper for our grocery store, where a percentage of our grocery savings goes to a local rescue. Sometimes there are also dinner events at local restaurants, where a percentage of every meal is donated. Your next date night could end up giving money to charity! How’s that for multi-tasking?

Not really interested in hacking your daily life towards donating? We’ve got a few other ways you can help out rescues beyond just donating money.

How Fostering Can Help You Prepare For Your Own Dog

12 May

Working with shelters and rescues is exceptionally rewarding. It offers you an opportunity to engage with your community and to give help to animals in desperate need. There are many ways to become involved with rescues, and fostering dogs or cats in your own home is one of the most challenging and most rewarding.

Fostering is a great way to help dogs in need. Shelters can become overrun, or often have special-needs cases that require constant care and attention, and that’s where fostering provides a huge help to the rescue, as well as the dogs in need.

Fostering Can Last As Long As You Want

Opening your home up to these unwanted animals can bring a lot of excitement to your family. It brings people together toward a very noble cause. But fostering isn’t forever. Shelters count themselves lucky for each person who is willing to commit their time and their home to animals in need. If for some reason an animal you are fostering simply isn’t working with your home or lifestyle, discuss it with the staff at the rescue. Be honest—if you have children or other pets, let the shelter know. Describe your lifestyle, your schedule, and talk about options.

It Introduces Children to a Pet in the Home

If there are young children in the home, or older children who have never had a pet in the home, then fostering is a great way to introduce them to having a pet around. It’s a great time to let the kids get hands-on experience with the daily chores of owning a dog. Who feeds the dog in the morning? Who will take the dog for daily walks? There are a lot of little chores for everyone to get involved with, and it all amounts to a great learning experience.

Furthermore, it may open you up to things you didn’t know. Maybe one of your children isn’t ready to have a dog just yet, and is scared of them. Maybe they’re more comfortable with a certain type of dog (big, small, fluffy, etc.) over another. Maybe they have an allergy you didn’t know about.

What Kind of Dog is Right For You?

We preach about researching dog ownership as well as specific breed types long before you commit to bringing a dog into your home permanently. Frankly, it’s a huge responsibility that will span upwards of 10–15+ years. It’s very easy to become enamored with the idea of owning a dog, while forgetting that it is also a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and can be a lot of money. We encourage everyone to thoughtfully plan what it will mean to bring a puppy or dog into their lives, and consider all the start-up costs associated with it.

Most of all, it’s important to find a dog that fits your lifestyle and your needs as a family. Fostering presents a great opportunity to really understand what it is to own a dog, but also sort of a try-out phase to see which dog was the right fit. Fostering dogs (or cats!) will bring a great cast of characters through your door from adorable, chubby puppies, to dogs with disabilities, to perfectly healthy adult dogs that you simply can’t believe someone would surrender or abandon. They will fill your house with joy, and eventually, they will be adopted by a loving family.

Be Ready to Say Goodbye

The best and worst part about fostering is that, eventually, you have to say goodbye. Whether you have a wonderful dog in your home for one day, one week, or maybe even one month, eventually that dog will get adopted and start his new life with his new family. It will hurt to see him go, but it will also be an incredibly satisfying moment to know that you helped care for him in his transition period to a new family.

Or, you know, you may never have to say goodbye. A friend of mine fostered dogs for about 6 months, then one day this beautiful white husky/shepherd mix came into her home and that was it. She adopted her, and the rest is history.