Early on in our planning of how to bring the Adoption Ambassadors concept to the field, I had a conversation with a coworker who originated the concept when her former organization was a contestant in the 2010 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. We were musing specifically about why dogs long overlooked in a shelter setting were being adopted in a matter of days while in the care of an Adoption Ambassador. My colleague said something like this: When people meet these dogs on the street, instead of seeing a shelter dog, they seem to see a potential family pet. In other words, when the trappings of a shelter fall away (even the most palatial or modern facility), so too might some of the misconceptions about who a “shelter dog” may be. A powerful argument for thinking outside of our facility walls, no?
Inspiring Stats from 2 Years of Campaigns
Looking back over the last two years of the ASPCA’s Adoption Ambassadors campaigns, the enthusiasm and participation from across the field is inspiring. By way of a few numbers, between 2015 and 2016:
- Nearly 6,000 registrations for the 2015 & 2016 Adoption Ambassadors webinar series
- More than 1,000 organizations took the pledge to implement or expand an Adoption Ambassadors program
- 200 organizations received just shy of $500,000 in grant funds to support those efforts
- Nearly 950 people exchanged ideas and resources in the Facebook group established for just that purpose
- And, of course, though we’re still calculating numbers from our 2016 grant recipients, there are the thousands of animals and people positively impacted by your incredible work
"When people meet these dogs on the street, instead of seeing a shelter dog, they seem to see a potential family pet."
Adoption Ambassadors Is Based on Partnership & Trust
One of my most favorite things about the Adoption Ambassadors program is the inherent necessity of organizations and community members to work together—in a powerfully direct way—to find homes for animals. It’s that kind of partnership, and the trust that it requires, that I believe is one of the ultimate keys to our success as a field and a movement. Another favorite element is the creativity and can-do thinking the program has brought out.
Over the last two years, we’ve come across efforts that challenged old thinking and embraced new ideas, and organizations that shared some incredibly happy tales:
- Humane Society of Washington County’s Traveling Fosters program—a first for cats!
- Charleston Animal Society helps keep adoptions rolling along with this genius idea you can implement at the grocery store!
- Spotlight on a VIP Ambassador for Cleveland Animal Care & Control
From the research that convinced us of the power of the Adoption Ambassadors program to the stories and successes like the ones shared above, we remain as sure as ever that the idea of engaging volunteers to multiply your adoption counselor forces has amazing potential for impact, whether your organization is large or small, a shelter or a rescue, serving dogs or cats (or smallies or horses, for that matter!).
As we continue to provide support and resources to organizations who share our passion for the Adoption Ambassadors concept, we wanted to take a minute to celebrate the incredible work you’ve all done these last couple of years.
So BRAVO, here’s to you—and the lives you’ve saved through the Adoption Ambassadors program.
B.J. Rogers, CAWA
ASPCA Vice President, ProLearning
With nearly 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector—and more than a decade of leadership in animal welfare—Rogers oversees the team responsible for the ASPCA’s field-facing communication, including ASPCApro.org, field-facing social media and online learning. As a former shelter chief executive whose experiences working in politics, higher education, LGBTQ youth advocacy and animal welfare have convinced him that people are the solution, not the problem.
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