It’s no secret that animal rescues would not be able to function without the support of their fosters and volunteers. But finding those people can feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack.

Whether you are new to animal rescue or have been wading through the trenches, you’ll quickly learn that saving the lives of animals is not a lone-wolf job; relying on your community for supplies and donations is the tip of the iceberg. But how do you persuade families to help take the next step and bring an animal into their home for an unknown period of time? Some animal rescues offer short-stay fostering like taking a dog on a walk for the day or hanging out with a kitten. Capturing these experiences as testimonials (a picture is worth 1000 words after all), and sharing them on Facebook and other social media platforms is a great way to increase the number of eyes on your animal rescue’s work and call for help. You can also use incentives to encourage participation in fostering your rescue’s pets.

What is an incentive program for animal rescues?

An incentive is “a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something.” It’s that little extra push to donate more than just supplies to your animal rescue, but to also donate one of life’s most valuable resources, time. An incentive program is a program your animal shelter puts in place to encourage new animal fosters to apply and help out. Some examples we have seen are notoriety, dollar amounts, swag, or making a fun competition out of it.

🐾We aren’t suggesting carrying the load by yourself. This is a great opportunity to help build a community of animal savers, inspired by your animal rescue’s data.

Dallas Animal Services was able to partner with their community, sharing their incentive program on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and Dallas Morning News, to place 160 dogs in 3 days! They did this by offering $150 to new animal fosters. El Paso Animal Service Center partnered with Best Friends Animal Society to run their incentive program by offering $125 to new pet fosters. More than the news crews, pet stores, groomers, vets, and similar stomping grounds, consider asking for help from more outside-the-box places like the chiropractor that offers pet adjustments, or the insurance company that offers pet insurance. With almost 40% of households in America having at least one pet, the chances of finding a company with an animal lover in charge are higher than you might think.

The benefits of an incentive program for your animal rescue are further-reaching than building a community of superheroes. Incentivizing animal fosters can:

  • Increase pet adoption traffic
  • Create space in animal shelters
  • Increase word of mouth for your animal rescue
  • Create return foster families

Incentivizing animal rescue fosters doesn’t need to be a task that requires planning on top of planning. Keeping it simple will help keep it successful. Planning means clearly laying out how much you are able to give to new fosters and what swag you can give to previous animal fosters to make their tails wag. Melissa Webber with Dallas Animal Services offers the advice that it must be a ”meaningful enough amount to truly be an incentive.” Make sure you have a central location, like Pawlytics, to track your animal shelters’ incentives and who qualifies. Some examples of these qualifiers are if it is for certain breeds, sizes, species, new pet fosters, etc… A great way to determine the best qualifiers for incentive based fostering, is to examine your animal rescue’s data! Looking at the data should tell you which pets are having a harder time getting into foster homes or are having longer stays prior to adoption. Systems such as Pawlytics can act as your one source of information, allowing you to collect and analyze your data.

Keeping things simple will also make it easy for people to join you! Having your animal rescue’s foster application and contract digitally available makes it easy to sign up. By using animal rescue management software, such as Pawlytics, you can save volunteers’ time so they can focus on making the best foster placements possible. Being able to quickly and digitally send and sign pet fostering contracts helps expedite the pet foster process and opens the pawsibilities for more helping paws in your rescue.