Fearless Kitty Rescue was given the 3rd place award for the Most Creative Foster or Adoption Tactic in the Get 'Em Home Challenge!
Their winning tactic focused on engaging volunteers and members of the public to personally become an advocate for a long-stay cat in order to help that cat find just the right companion and to increase the circle of potential adopters.
The Call To Action
Fearless Kitty Rescue called on their community to be a "Wingman" or "Fairy Godmother" for one of the cats by doing whatever they could to share a cat's face and info with others in a creative way!
One volunteer put photographs on her car of two cats she was representing so wherever she parked, people could see the cats and take a card to contact Fearless Kitty Rescue.
Soon many pictures and video compilations were posted and shared on social media and as more cats started to get adopted, more and more people were interested!
The idea for being a Wingman/Fairy Godmother eventually sparked an additional idea by the creative Fearless Kitty Rescue crew!
The Gratitude Cats
In November, The Gratitude Cats concept came into play. The Gratitude Cats were a personal note of thanks from a long-stay cat, with a picture, bio and a request for help to find a forever home by sharing the note at holiday gatherings.
The note was meant to be passed along and were placed at the rescue and handed out at all events. The public responded very graciously, often taking more than one to help spread the word.
Get 'Em Home!
Over the three months of the Get Em Home Challenge, Fearless Kitty's small rescue was able to help 50 of their long-stay cats find forever homes, including Nefertiti, who had been there 967 days, Kihei, who had been there 267 days, and Harriet, 266 days, and on and on the list goes!
Nefertiti (seen on the Gratitude Cats flyer above) was one of 3 strays found at a church in Fountain Hills and came to the rescue terrified and shy. All 3 found a home together but Nefertiti was returned a few months later because the adopter was moving and couldn't take her with. After working through her shyness back at the rescue, Nefertiti eventually let her guard back down and found a new family in December to spend her first Christmas in a loving home.
Kihei (pictured below) was found in an HVAC vent and brought to Fearless Kitty Rescue. After losing his eye to Valley Fever, he spent 267 days being a playful, laid back cat, roaming the rescue freely. He was adopted just a couple days before Thanksgiving last year and there wasn't a dry eye at the rescue when he found his forever home.
The Fearless Kitty Rescue team knew they wanted to work on three areas: engaging the public and their volunteers in a new way, kitty enrichment (especially for longer stay cats) and upping their marketing game when it came to videos.
The main challenge was HOW to get the public excited, get them onboard with sharing, and to find ways to explain what Fearless Kitty Rescue wanted from them. They explored using posters, social media outreach, volunteers reaching out to their friends and family or talking directly to visitors at the rescue.
Rescue events and participation in adoption events were also used to spread the word, and the cats that went out in The CatMobile were "winged" as well. As more ways to support FKR became visible, they noticed an increase in people liking and commenting on content, and most importantly, sharing it!
1.) Fearless Kitty Rescue discovered hidden talents within their volunteers because they asked - "what can you do?" It sounds so simple, but in the day to day jobs that volunteers do so well, we forget about all the other skills they might have.
2.) Discovered that many people DO want to help even though they cannot adopt a cat or don’t have funds to donate. By giving them a chance to be involved and feel they were really contributing, this helped to build relationships.
3.) The length of time for GEH Challenge was daunting, especially in the Autumn when things get really busy in the Valley with the holidays approaching and a lot of events already in place demanding time from volunteers. FKR realized the importance of building momentum into marketing campaigns and allowing the concepts to keep growing.
4.) Staying positive and believing in possibilities was rewarded with outcomes like Kihei and Nefertiti! Those types of successes spurred folks on and the public and volunteer excitement could be felt. The icing on the cake was being honored by Maddie’s Fund, for which Fearless Kitty Rescue is thrilled.
5.) The challenge helped to raise the level of urgency and awareness with the public, volunteers and upped FKR's game plan. It's exciting to know that creativity and out-of-the box thinking can help in so many ways.
Keeping The Momentum Going
Fearless Kitty Rescue loved the success of their Wingman/Fairy Godmother idea that they recently launched a new version of "winging" called Push Me Forward.
Push Me Forward kitten cards similar to the Gratitude Cat cards are shared in their monthly newsletters and social media. The cards are also available in their boutique for anyone who physically wants to hand out a card.
In Autumn, they will use this same tactic to focus specifically on their special needs and harder to place cats. During the holidays, they plan to again share The Gratitude Cats at holiday tables throughout November/December and at their own holiday events at FKR.
Getting More Cats Adopted
Fearless Kitty Rescue was awarded a $1500 grant from Maddie's Fund for their achievements and creativity during the Get 'Em Home Challenge. What do they plan to do with the funds? Get more kitties adopted!
- Marketing Program Communications (Constant Contact)
- Maintain sending monthly newsletters & help with goal of growing number of email subscribers by 500 each year
- Target-marketing specifically for hard to place & special needs cats
- Usually have ~7 special needs cats in the rescue. Will create flyers & profiles just for them, press releases & Fall ad
- Purchase & modify 2 new strollers into their CatMobiles program
- Continue getting cats out of the building for fresh air (enrichment) & showcase to potential adopters
- Playpens for enrichment
- For kittens in transition from medical to the adoption floor (~10 days) to have space to run, jump and play becoming more socialized and more adoptable
Try it yourself!
For anyone interested in trying this or a similar tactic out, the Fearless Kitty Crew recommends that you build in levels of momentum and to think about how you can get the public to want to help your animals, and then have fun exploring the images that will appeal to your audience. Engaging compassion and telling a story about particular cats open hearts.
"We are just so grateful and really learned a lot about ourselves and the community from participating in this Challenge and the best part was that we helped kitties find homes. #ThanksToMaddie for encouraging us all to think outside the box." - Fearless Kitty Rescue
Thank you @Fearless Kitty Rescue for participating in the challenge and sharing more about your strategy! We love being able to learn how organizations of all sizes are finding solutions and forever homes.