What works in recruiting foster homes?
The Pet Foster Network asked Holly Sizemore, Executive Director of No More Homeless Pets in Utah, what worked for them in recruiting foster homes. NMHP in Utah is working to end euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats statewide. Here are her answers:
"Foster homes are definitely the gold of all our work, aren't they. You know, interestingly we have found that grass-roots efforts to recruit foster homes work best. Our most successful:
1. At adoption events, about 20 % of the animal's cages will have a very bright but small star-shaped sign that just says "I need a foster home, ask how you can help". We have some wonderful foster homes who don't mind if we move their foster animal to a new foster home and give them a new animal from the shelter, so even if we have that animal in a foster home we will sometimes put the sign on knowing that it will help recruit new fosters. If we put too many stars out it doesn't seem to work, 20% seems to be the magical and unscientific number.
2. Just recently we found using social networking in combination with our super adoption events has been amazing in recruiting new fosters. I think it is the "event" aspect that really makes it work. Our super adoption events bring together shelters and rescue groups from throughout Utah for a mega-3-day adoption event. We have about 1,000 animals present with a goal of adopting out 400. Each day we send out tweets and facebook notifications as to our results for that day. We of course talk about how amazing and successful the event is going, but we also state that at 4:00 pm Sunday some of the unadopted animals may face returning to a euthanizing shelter (since the shelter likely filled up over the course of the weekend) and being killed. We asked interested parties if they could foster, to please show up Sunday @ 4:00 pm. It is a bit crazy, I must admit (having them fill out the foster home application on the spot) but last super adoption it resulted in getting about 15 new foster homes for a number of rescue groups. I don't think you'd necessarily need a super adoption to make this work, just some "event" type thing...kitten season or simply an appeal saying that a shelter is faced with an inordinate number of animals and needs help, etc. The key is to only use that kind of method a few times per year."