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9 New Year’s Resolutions for Shelters and Rescues

A person wearing rubber gloves holds two gray kittens

It’s a brand-new year — the perfect time to start fresh. And if you work for an animal welfare organization, January provides a great opportunity to take a step back and look at your protocols and policies. What can you improve? What can you do to start 2019 on the right foot and maximize adoptions this year? Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for shelters and rescues!

  1. Take a moment to define your mission and vision. What is your number one goal? What sets you apart from other rescues and shelters? Working this out as an organization is a great way to bring focus back to what matters most. Write up a mission statement and place it on your website. This tells people why their donations matter and how their dollars can truly make a difference.
  2. Share success stories. This is a great way to show team members that their hard work is paying off. It is also great publicity for your organization. Nothing beats a photo of a once homeless pet now happy with their furever family!
  3. Optimize your website. Make sure your website highlights your top goal, whether that be adoptions, donations or positive press. For example, if your number one objective is to drive donations, there should be a prominently featured “donate now” button in the middle of your homepage. Make sure it’s easy to find. Keep everything, including your adoptables page, up to date. A calendar of events is also really useful for visitors. Your website should work for you, not against you!
  4. Is your organization on Facebook? How about Instagram? If not, now is the time to launch those accounts. Animal welfare is perfect for social media because folks love pictures of cute pets!
  5. Diversify your funding base. Frequently, adoption fees just barely cover the amount of money it takes to rescue an animal, so it’s important to find other sources of revenue. Launch a GoFundMe page or fundraise on Facebook. Think about holding fundraising events, such as a gala, yard sale or chili cook-off.
  6. Keep in touch with folks who have adopted from you. This is a great way to create buzz and ask for donations. Start a weekly or monthly newsletter or weekly blog.
  7. Start a branding campaign. Print your logo on tee shirts, bags and hats and sell them to the public as a fundraiser. There are even some companies that will do this for you at little or no cost. Plus, when people wear your merchandise, it’ll act as free publicity!
  8. Protect your brand. Buy all domains (.org and .com) with your name. Then apply for copyright for your name and trademark your logo.
  9. Set an organizational standard that all inquiries are answered within 24 hours. A frequent complaint from potential adopters is that they don’t receive replies from shelters and rescues in a timely fashion. Remove that obstacle and hopefully you should see higher adoption rates.