June 11, 2024
Categories: Uncategorized

How often should your organization be talking about foster if you want to grow your program? The answer might surprise you.

“Talk about your foster program all the time,” says Maddie’s Fund® Senior Community Solutions Specialist Kelly Duer. “Informal research on the organizations with the largest foster programs found that they are talking about foster on average in 33% of social media posts. Many of these organizations are posting multiple times each day, so they’re talking about it just about every single day.”  

This is important because hearing about other community members’ experiences with fostering and seeing photos of foster pets in homes can help to normalize fostering in the community. Market research has shown that one of the biggest reasons potential fosters don’t sign up is because they feel uncertain about fostering. Having a better understanding of how it looks and works can go a long way toward getting supporters more comfortable signing up. 

“The research I mentioned was done on social media, but don’t stop there,” says Duer. “A well-rounded approach to foster recruitment involves all types of communications. I’d recommend you work foster into 33% or more of all your communications, similarly to how often you talk about adoption. This should include things like newsletters, signage and chats during community events. Even things like email signatures and donation receipts can be great places to mention fostering,” says Duer. 

You might be wondering, How will I fit this in with all the other things I need to talk about? The answer is easier than you think! Working foster in with some of your other communications can increase foster messaging while not taking away from the other things you need to discuss. For example, a note that your shelter or rescue organization is closed for a holiday could include photos of several pets spending their holiday in foster homes. Your communications should include stories about pets in foster homes, messaging about why foster homes are needed, mentioning an adoptable pet was in foster or is available for foster or adoption, and more (for an example of an organization that’s doing a great job of working foster into its communications, check out One Tail at a Time’s Facebook Page). 

Is there an upper limit to how often an organization can talk about fostering? Duer had a chance to test this out while working with a local rescue organization. “I thought there might be a point at which their followers would complain, but that’s not what happened,” Duer says. “They were talking about foster in some way in upwards of 75% of all types of communications. Sign-ups for both their traditional and their short-term foster programs were at a record high. There was not a single complaint from supporters, but their all-volunteer team got completely overwhelmed with the volume of new fosters!”  

Interested in doing a quick assessment of your organization’s communications about fostering on your website and social media? Use this best practices document for your website and this document to audit your social media.