July 30, 2019
Categories: Foster Programs
senior woman and dog

If you’re interested in growing your animal shelter or rescue organization’s foster program, creating a community culture that values fostering is critical.  One of the easiest ways to begin doing this is to bring foster care into the conversation as much as possible in your organization’s communications. Talking about foster care helps to normalize it within the community. When your supporters constantly see photos and hears stories of pets in foster homes, fostering becomes familiar to them and is perceived as “something our community does.”

Market research shows that one of the main reasons prospective fosters don’t apply is due to general uncertainty about fostering and what it means for them. About one third of prospective foster caregivers feel anxious about fostering. Seeing pets in foster care and reading their stories regularly on social media can go a long way toward reducing anxiety and reassuring them that fostering is something they can do.

If you want to truly make fostering a community value and expand your foster program, prioritize it in your communications as you do adoption. Every day needs to be Foster Friday. Work a photo, a story or even just the word ‘foster’ into social media posts once every day. Make sure your community knows that when it comes to saving lives, fostering is every bit as important as adoption.

Working foster care into the conversation is easy and general pleas for foster caregivers are one of many options for content. Here are some examples of other ways your organization can do this:

Tell the story of an individual pet who needs a foster caregiver. Stories help us make emotional connections, which can drive us to act. Organizations who do this often find they get multiple foster applications for each pet they post, enabling them to put even more pets into foster care.

‘Go live!’ Introduce supporters to pets awaiting foster care, like Pima Animal Care Center did in this video, or try a question-and-answer session like Kentucky Humane Society did on Facebook Live.

Post photos, stories and video of pets in foster care. Outside the shelter, there are infinitely more opportunities to learn about pets’ personalities and see them looking their best, which makes for unique and engaging social media.

Post a photo montage of pets currently in foster care. Ask caregivers to send you photos of their foster pets in weekend foster, playing in the sun or doing just about any activity.

Mention foster care alongside adoption. Are you featuring a shelter dog who’s been on a sleepover? Make sure to mention the things you learned about them outside the shelter in your post, or mention that the pet is available for adoption or foster care.

Virtually any post can incorporate foster care. Are you closing for a holiday? Post a photo of a pet who’s enjoying the break in a foster home. Got a fundraiser coming up? Post a photo of a pet helping you prepare or using supplies your fundraiser will provide funding for.

If foster care is to become the norm in your community it must be a part of your community’s vocabulary, and these are just a few strategies for doing this. If your organization has a great way of bringing foster care into the conversation on social media, post a link in the comments!