How PetRescue uses adopter applications to redirect rescue's donations to themselves

September 6, 2017

This is a follow up to last year's post on "The Adoptables" project, launched by PetRescue in the lead-up to tax time 2016.

See also: Why PetRescue’s new system will spell the end for growth in mid-sized rescue groups.

PetRescue has a sophisticated communications strategy called ‘on-boarding’ - which starts the moment a potential adopter makes first contact with a rescue group via the website. That is, every single application made through the PetRescue website, to a rescue group, becomes a donation solicitation. Every single one. As soon as that first connection is made, PetRescue will gently start communicating with this potential adopter.


This introduction email goes to all potential adopters who send an application through the website. It reaches them, in the overwhelming majority of cases, before they've had a chance to hear back from a rescue group.

By mentioning that there is a benefit to seeking out a "good" rescue group, it also positions in the mind of applicants the existence of "bad" rescue groups. Don't trust just anyone.

3 DAYS LATER - “More than a website” (

Again, this email would often have gone out, often, before a response from a rescue group has been received. It positions PetRescue as "more than just a website" and as a "non-profit" helping "pets in need".

AFTER 10 DAYS - “Help us by advocating” (first call for a donation) (

Again, this email is still less than a fortnight after the first application. Maybe a rescue group has stepped in and have started the process of an adoption - or in many cases certainly, the applicant is still 'shopping around' for a pet. But one thing is very consistent through this entire process - the repetition of the PetRescue brand, and repeated and strategic contact by the PetRescue organisation.

This is also the first email soliciting a donation. And the wording could not be more purposeful. A donation to PetRescue saves a life;

Donate and Save a Life

and that PetRescue is deliberately responsible for that lifesaving;

Every day, thousands of pets are counting on us to find them a forever home. We know you can't take them all home, but you can help us keep saving lives. It costs just $10 to match one of our rescue pets with their new family. Donate now.

(highlighting mine)

So while rescue is busy saving and caring for pets, PetRescue is quietly and smoothly taking credit for those rescues. And when people click through to donate, this message is absolutely confirmed... " PetRescue save lives"


PetRescue uses this email to invite applicants who were successful - adopters - to start engaging with them, sharing stories that they can use in their promotions. But probably more importantly, it invites adopters to make themselves known, so they can be targeted for further solicitations.

Multiple solicitation messages going out to potential adopters, in many cases before they've even chosen a rescue pet or a rescue group to adopt through. And that's not even counting the monthly, or bi-monthly regular newsletters coming out of the organisation via the PetRescue Post (

09/02/2017 - Did someone say cake?
07/14/2017 - << Test First Name >>, here’s your EOFY donation statement
07/13/2017 - So much good was made possible!
06/30/2017 - Evie has some great news. And an adorable head tilt!
06/24/2017 - Your kindness will be doubled!
06/22/2017 - Orca wants to thank you, << Test First Name >>
06/20/2017 - It’s not easy finding love when you’re too shy
06/13/2017 - Ever seen a Button this cute?
06/02/2017 - Sweet old Henry finds love for the rest of his days.
05/18/2017 - Have kids? Have fur kids? Want to adopt?
05/11/2017 - << Test First Name >>, here’s an update on your impact
04/20/2017 - Zulu wouldn’t settle until she was surrounded by children
03/02/2017 - We want you as a furry recruit!

How does a rescue's brand compete?

Basically, it doesn't.

"The Adoptables" is designed to convincing the public that a donation to PetRescue is equal, or even superior to, a donation to a rescue group. It is being combined with a regular, strategic and consistent communications which starts at the moment of the very first application. A strategy so resource intensive that very few rescues could hope to compete.

With "The Matchmakers" project being launched soon - increasing their access to the details of adopters at point of adoption - it is a certainty that PetRescue will build on their national brand, and teams of rescue groups inadvertently doing donor outreach on their behalf.

Rescue will keep doing the work, while PetRescue profits.

Find this post interesting? Share it around.