Foster Programs

Introduction

Foster programs are great for shelters and for potential adopters.  There is a lot of truth to the saying, “Fostering saves lives.”  For animals who cannot handle the stress of shelters, fostering gives them a chance.  Fostering presents a better picture of who an animal really is, so adoption matches can be more successful.  However, fostering can be hard.  It’s easy for a foster to feel overwhelmed and isolated at home with a challenging dog.  It’s important to help them stay connected to the shelter/rescue and for them to know they are appreciated and supported.  Fostering is a great PR program for any shelter or rescue.  The families who foster will talk about your shelter/rescue and spread the word of the good work you do.  They will become your advocates, your best volunteers, and a source of dedicated supporters.

Foster Friends

It’s easy for a foster to feel overwhelmed, especially if they have a challenging dog in their home.  You can utilize volunteers who are not able to foster by assigning them to a foster as their “buddy”.  The Foster Friend can support the foster by advocating for the dog, checking in with the foster to see if they need anything, acting as a go-between for the foster and the rescue/shelter, helping get the dog to adoption events, and supporting the foster through encouragement, a listening ear, and ideas for solving issues. Foster Friends will help retain fosters and make the experience a better once for everyone involved.

Foster-of-the-Month

Feature a different foster each month by celebrating them virtually on your social media and/or creating a tribute on a bulletin board or wall at the shelter.  You can create a questionnaire that you send to the foster with questions like – Why do you foster? What is the most rewarding thing about fostering? Who was your favorite foster dog? Who in the organization inspires you? Etc.

You might also want to acknowledge them with a thank you card from your board and a small gift card for a cup of coffee.

Foster Respite/Babysitters

Recruit volunteers willing to be short-term fosters to offer some respite or to babysit for fosters who need to travel.  If you have a good list of short-term fosters, you won’t incur the expense of boarding when a family vacation or crisis requires you to find a place for a foster dog.  Many people would love to foster but travel a lot or have other reasons they don’t want to commit to a foster full-time.  This is a great way for just about anyone to foster for a day, a week, or an afternoon.

Weekend Warriors

Let a shelter dog spend their weekend with you!  From exploring your area to hanging out at home, help us learn more about our dogs to help us find them their perfect home.

Celebrate Your Fosters

Keep track of the number of animals placed with each foster home and shine a light on that foster when they reach significant numbers like 10, 25, 50, 100.  Have a volunteer assigned to send congratulations/thank you cards to the foster, maybe give them a gift for each milestone (shelter/rescue sticker, magnet, t-shirt, etc.).  Appreciation is what most people want more than anything else when they volunteer their time.