Don't let your shelter staff write your adoption profiles

December 14, 2016

My name is Daphne and my Christmas wish is a simple one. My secret, heart-of-hearts hope is to find someone to love me… because I have so much love to give.

That is the call from the fundraising team at the RSPCA NSW this morning. Only by giving them more mohney can dogs like Daphne find new homes!

I came here as a pup. I was surrendered. I was so little then. That was over a year ago. I am bigger now – much bigger. But I never expected to spend more than half my life here.

So she's been in care a while - but for a large breed, not totally unusual. Daphne does have a PetRescue listing - great! (and half the goddamn battle really). 

And she's cute - she's not going to win any beauty awards, but she's cute.

I know I may not find my perfect match before Christmas but I am crossing every paw that it will be soon. Until I do, I will be cared for here with support from generous people like you.

So cute girl, nice pictures - what's the problem?

Ready? Here is her PetRescue profile.

And here's her PetRescue profile highlighted in Green = positive comments, Yellow = neutral, or things that make you feel meh-so-what, and Red = things that are negative

So after people have been drawn into the idea of bringing Daphne into their family by seeing her lovely pic on her PetRescue profile, they are then bombarded with information about how she's going to be a PITA to live with (most of which are normal young dog things, I mean give me a break). While absolutely zero of this information is really specific to Daphne - someone could have literally written it having never met this dog. And this is the profile she has after more than a whole year in care.

If you're going to fundraise for the RSPCA NSW state head office on the back of adoptions - how about spending twenty minutes actually doing some adoption marketing basics. Especially when the dog you're profiling has already spent twelve months in kennels and should have been highlighted for promotion months ago.

I know I am a big girl but I have a kind heart and I’m smart. I know someone will see beyond my size one day. I am told over and over that I am a good girl and I try to live up to that. I know that many kind people are looking out for me – will you be one of them?

See, that - now that is good stuff. Emotive and interesting. In the fundraising newsletter, but not trickling down into actually saving lives of pets. Someone cynical might say investing more in fundraising, than helping pets.

It is easily solved. Stop letting shelter staff write adoption profiles. They're not good at it. They're not passionate about it. And they often have no time for it.

Invest one day a week where a PR staff member interviews the shelter staff on any pets who have been in care for more than a few weeks, and then writes an adoption profile which highlights the dog's personality, needs and perfect owner.

At PetRescue* we used to use a little formula when we're helping new groups with their profiles for the first time;

- What’s the best thing about <this pet>?
- What’s the best thing about <this pet's> new owner?
- How would <this pets> perfect day go?

Start thinking, not about the pet and their limitations, but about what kind of home would actually suit the pet, the pets ideal owner and how best to pitch to target the advertisement to them.

Shelters need to invest in adoption marketing. A significant investment of actual real percentages of income. In fact, for an organisation as large as RSPCA NSW there should be a marketing person specifically allocated to adoption marketing, with KPI's on increasing adoption outcomes.

Dogs like Daphne's lives depend on it.

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*Please note, I am no longer affiliated with PetRescue

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