Best Friends Shelter Outreach Mentorship Program
Ready to step up your organization’s lifesaving game? Best Friends mentorships are here to help.
Sharing knowledge and resources is the key to saving more lives and achieving no-kill. And the shelter outreach mentorship program is designed to do just that. Through the program, your organization can connect with Best Friends staff across a wide variety of areas and departments to help further develop expertise and achieve specific organizational goals that will maximize lifesaving impact.
From animal care and behavior to public relations and human resources, there are opportunities for mentorship support in just about every area you could imagine.
We are constantly adding more opportunities so contact your Network specialist to discuss your current needs and to apply to be part of the program today.
Current mentorship opportunities are available in the following areas. Scroll down to learn more:
- Animal bios and adoption profiles
- Digital writing - email, web ads and web copy
- Fundraising and donor relations
- Marketing - Web, print and social media
- General communications
- Training and curriculum development
- Choosing a spokesperson
- Leveraging your communications
- Creating and pitching interesting stories
- Animals and TV
- Corporate partnerships
- Direct mail
- Donor data technology and management
- Donor relations and stewardship
- Planned giving and lifetime pet care
- Grant readiness
- Prospect research and proposal writing
- Grant management, reporting and relationships
- Choosing and implementing systems
- Innovative programs for lifesaving
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Animal care and behavior*
An enriching environment reduces stress and contributes to an animal’s overall physical and mental well-being. By providing cats in your care with the enrichment they need, you can keep them healthy and happy, which will help reduce length of stay and find them homes sooner. Learn more about how to create and incorporate enrichment programs for all of the feline friends in your care, including those in foster homes.
Cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can get a bad rap, making them seem less adoptable. But the truth is these cats can live long, healthy lives in homes, and happily with other cats, too. Learn about common FIV myths, get the tools and resources to help educate community members about these special cats, and start finding loving new homes for cats with FIV.
Safe handling techniques
Safe handling is an essential skill for anyone who works with animals. Utilizing safe handling techniques with cats prevents injuries to yourself and others, reduces stress for the cats, and ultimately helps the find new homes sooner. Learn essential safe handling skills and receive one-on-one coaching from a Best Friends cat expert.
Dog behavior and body language
Developing a basic understanding of how dogs learn and what motivates them, as well as what their body language is telling you, is important for anyone who works directly with dogs or trains other staff and volunteers to do so. Learn the basics of dog behavior and body language from a Best Friends dog expert, including tips for helping dogs with common behavioral challenges, such as shy or fearful dogs.
An enriching environment reduces stress and contributes to an animal’s overall physical and mental well-being. By providing dogs in your care with the enrichment they need, you can keep them healthy and happy, which will help reduce length of stay and find them homes sooner . Learn more about how to create and incorporate enrichment programs for all of the tail-wagging friends in your care, including those in foster homes.
Playgroups and playdates
Organizing dog playgroups and playdates is a great way to take your kennel enrichment program to the next level. Incorporating dog-dog play into your animal care routine can help you better assess dogs’ social skills and adoption potential, as well as provide some much needed stimulation for some of your more active dogs. Learn how to safely and successfully implement dog playgroups from a Best Friends dog expert.
*Animal care and behavior mentorships are available for operational and programmatic help only. These are not opportunities to seek help addressing the needs of a specific animal in your care.
Communications and marketing
Animal bios and adoption profiles
The language you use to talk about animals matters. Writing stories and adoption profiles that are accurate, informative and enticing for potential adopters is a huge part of finding homes for adoptable pets. Get expert writing tips and learn how to craft effective adoption profiles for pets in your care from a Best Friends copywriter.
Digital writing - email, web ads and web copy
Understanding how people read and consume online information is the key to writing effective emails, social ads and other web copy. Learn the ins and outs of digital writing, including how to improve your fundraising and engagement emails, from a Best Friends copywriter.
Fundraising and donor relations
Persuasive writing that encourages people to donate money and support your organization is an essential tool for any non-profit.Learn the essential components of a good fundraising appeal and how to engage and grow your donor base through mail and email appeals, impact reports and other stewardship pieces from a Best Friends copywriter. You might also want to consider pairing this with a development mentorship to learn how to create and approach fundraising appeals.
Marketing - Web, print and social media
Creating a clear, consistent and engaging identity through your marketing is how you capture the public’s attention and establish your own brand. Work one-on-one with a Best Friends’ copywriter and learn how to develop marketing materials that will increase adoptions, drive fundraising and more.
Non-profit organizations need to communicate effectively with different types of audiences and for different purposes. How you communicate with potential adopters, for example, is very different than how you should communicate with city council members or your internal staff. Learn how to use language in context and write for different mediums, audiences and purposes from a Best Friends copywriter.
Training and curriculum development
Want to improve and standardize your volunteer training program? Hoping to create a best practices handbook for your animal care team? Interested in cleaning up your new adopter packet? Work with a Best Friends’ copywriter and learn how to create clear, user-friendly resources for training volunteers and staff or supporting adopters and other community members.
Choosing a spokesperson
Is your organization ready to talk about no-kill or other major lifesaving issues? Learn about characteristics of the ideal spokesperson, the art of the pivot, how to create effective talking points that will help you shape the conversation, and ultimately the no-kill movement, through the language you use.
Leveraging your communications
Do you know the difference between a press release and a media alert? Explore various forms of communications that yield the best results and learn how to transform a new media relationship into an organizational resource from a Best Friends public relations team member.
Creating and pitching interesting stories
People love animal stories. But how do you get your story out there and attract public attention? Learn what types of stories have media appeal, why great images are so important, and how to get it all in front of the right media contacts from a Best Friends public relations expert.
Animals and TV
We’ve all seen memorable TV segments with adorable animals. And while it often looks easy, there are a few tricks to the trade that will set you up for success. From discerning who makes a good “TV pet” to doing test runs and harnessing cats, we’ll take a look at everything you need for a successful shoot.
Engaging corporations to support your organization’s lifesaving work is one of the best ways to grow and diversify your funding portfolio. Learn how to build corporate relationships, get event sponsorship and offer benefits to your new partners to secure their long-term commitment and support.
Ready to start or re-evaluate your direct mail program? Best Friends has a mature direct mail fundraising program that you can use as a model for your own organization. Learn tips for acquiring more donors through the mail, brainstorming techniques for special appeal ideas, and the specifics of donor segmentation. You might also want to consider pairing this with a copywriting mentorship focused on writing direct mail appeals.
Donor data technology and management
Properly managing donor data is a must for any non-profit. It’s critical to building trust with your supporters and establishing yourself as a professional organization capable of responsibly handling donated funds. Learn best practices in data quality and management, as well as fundraising processes and documentation, from a Best Friends digital fundraising team member.
Donor relations and stewardship
Best Friends’ annual giving and major gifts teams can help you develop your fundraising infrastructure. Learn how to acquire, cultivate and re-engage donors across the giving spectrum; collect and manage donor data; and increase the amount and rate of giving through benefits and donor categories.
Interested in raising money and public awareness through grassroots fundraising events? Learn creative ways to raise money and awareness through peer-to-peer fundraising for your members, sponsored sporting events and community fundraisers, and more, and even on a small budget.
Planned giving and lifetime pet care
Planned giving is an essential piece of your organization’s long-term health. And it’s easy to do when you already have great relationships with your donors. Learn how to start a planned giving program using gifts through wills, trusts and beneficiary designations; grow your current program through better marketing to and stewardship of current donors, and incorporate lifetime care planning for donors whose pets may outlive them.
Need funding fast? Then a grant probably isn’t the answer. Grants are a long-term strategy, and whether you’re new to grantseeking or looking to expand your organization’s grants portfolio, you need to make sure your organization is ready for this step. Get help with assessing your organization’s readiness for applying and managing grants.
Prospect research and proposal writing
Finding grants doesn’t have to feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Learn the ins and outs of prospect research and steps you can take to increase your chance at winning a grant, including how to write an effective grant proposal using a blend of creative and technical writing.
Grant management, reporting and relationships
The real work when it comes to grant money is tracking and managing those grant dollars and cultivating productive relationships with the foundations who give it to you. Meeting reporting deadlines, tracking restricted funds and effectively communicating with funders are how you stay compliant and ensure your eligibility for future funding. Learn the essentials of grant management and funder relationships from a Best Friends’ foundation team member.
Data and technology
Data tracking, analysis and management
Using a formal animal data management system to track and analyze basic information like intakes and outcomes is essential for any animal welfare organization. Get help evaluating existing software systems, or establishing a basic in-house tracking system for small-scale organizations (if you don’t have one already). Learn how to use essential tools like Best Friends’ no-kill calculator and Shelter Animals Count, develop a better understanding of live release and save rate calculations, and how to use that information to create lifesaving impact in your community.
Choosing and implementing systems
Thinking about implementing a new system to help you manage operational data and information? Get some help finding the right technology for your organizational needs. Learn how to issue and evaluate a “Request for Proposal”, implement systems and utilize key features like automated processes, and more.
Innovative programs for lifesaving
There are many innovative tools available today to help you support the animals in your care and save more lives. And now’s the time to start using them. Learn about different technological solutions designed to assist you with transport, fostering, rehoming, adoption marketing, supporting people with pets and more.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a fancy term for strategies that help drive more people to your website. When you create quality content that is tailored for what people are searching for and the questions they are asking, Google and other search engines will reward your efforts by giving your web pages more exposure in Internet search results. Learn simple tips and best practices for making sure more people land on your site.
General support and programming
For any organization helping homeless pets, your adoptions program is central to everything to you do. Knowing the ins and outs of pre- and post-adoption processes, as well as progressive approaches to reducing length of stay and finding more homes for the animals in your care will help you save more lives. Get expert help from a Best Friends adoptions team member with everything from special needs adoptions and removing adoption barriers to preparing for adoption and post-adoption support.
Foster programs are a key component of any successful animal care and adoption program. They can increase the number of animals your organization is able to help and offer a new way to engage community members with your lifesaving efforts. Learn about a wide variety of foster program approaches from a Best Friends expert, including foster solutions for special medical and behavioral cases.
Your organization’s success and longevity depends on the quality of your team. Human resources, or lack thereof can make or break your lifesaving impact. Learn best practices in creating and managing your organizational team, from recruiting basics, compensation and benefits, to the technical aspects of employee relations, staff culture and development. Whether you need to create an employee handbook or improve on managing and resolving conflict, Best Friends’ human resources team can help.
Planning to open an onsite spay/neuter facility for animals in your care and/or pets in your community? No need to reinvent the wheel. Best Friends can assist you with the planning and execution of everything from identifying supply and staffing needs, estimating costs and hiring veterinarians.
Volunteers are the backbone of any successful non-profit organization. Take advantage of a one-on-one consultation with a Best Friends expert to evaluate your current volunteer program and identify your organization’s area(s) of need. Whether it’s starting a brand new program, or assessing aspects of your current one, we can help.