I've always been interested in helping animals. I spent a number of years fostering dogs and volunteering at local shelters, but I continually find myself wondering how I might be able to have a greater impact at a larger scale.
I'm hoping to speak with employees and volunteers at shelters and rescues so I can learn more about how different organizations operate and what some of your major challenges are.
Is there anyone who would be willing to chat for a bit? Would love to speak to as many people as possible and it could be as little as 20 min :)
P.S. if this is the wrong forum, please let me know
In my experience, the behind-the-scenes admin work is the hardest to find help with (especially if the organization is all volunteer-run).
This typically includes adding cats/people into the system, scanning medical records and adding those to the system, tracking which animals need to go online when, writing online bios, writing thank yous to donors, writing newsletters or blogs, social media management, applying for grants, answering emails and inquiries from the public, followups/checkins with adopters, and processing foster, volunteer, and adoption applications. And probably more, but this is the list off the top of my head!
This is awesome! Thank you Erin. It's interesting to hear about all the behind-the-scenes work that I vaguely knew about, but wasn't exposed to directly as a volunteer—I was focused on walking and socialization.
Hi Erin, I was wondering what programs/services you use to manage all this data and communicate with fosters/volunteers. What do interactions look like between the shelter and fosters(I know this varies, I only have limited exp with the one I fostered for) - how do they communicate, what information is shared/needed, etc?
We use ShelterLuv to track cats, fosters, adopters, and volunteers. Our Medical Coordinator has an Excel spreadsheet with data from ShelterLuv that we email to the fosters weekly (with highlighting and notes for cats thatare due for something). We have Facebook groups for TNR Trappers, All Volunteers, and Foster Homes. And we use Trello boards (which you can share between people) for planning out Social Media posts, processing Adoption Applications, and a few other tasks.
Urban Cats is foster-based (no shelter building) and averages 300-400 cats a year (we're small! ) with approximately 50 foster homes.
To add to what UCC_Erin wrote, you don't have to be local to the shelter to help. We have people that are remote from differing areas of the country helping us out with records, etc.
Thanks Joy! That's interesting as well.
How did you get connected with people who are remote (considering there are shelters and rescues all over the place)?
Most of our 'remote' volunteers live 2-4 hours away and heard of us through word of mouth, or by searching online for TNR groups (my org. is one of a small number of those in our state)... they're a little too far away to foster but we find other ways for them to get involved if they want to.
We also use VolunteerMatch.com to post 'Volunteer jobs' (which you can mark as Remote opportunities) and I know some others use Idealist.org or even LinkedIn.com (posting "Volunteer X Job" so it's clear it's not a paid role).
I felt similarly to you 3 years ago, and I ended up building a software to address a major challenge I saw. If you're interested in leveraging data and technology in sheltering, I'd be happy to chat.
Thanks Jessica! Just shot you an email :)
Hi Danny, I fostered some cats last year and have been wondering the same thing. I'm currently a user experience design student at university of michigan and i'm working on a project to improve information flow and foster engagement in the foster system. I'm just starting to do user research and would love to chat with you about your findings from your own research and your experiences as a foster caregiver. Definitely shoot me an email if you can chat :)
6150 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 125Pleasanton, CA 94588
Phone: (925) 310-5450Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a look at the Maddie's ShopAll kinds of goodies for you and your pet.