Proven Strategies

Black and white dog wearing orange bandana sitting in grass between two women

Expanding your walls: Maximize lifesaving with a community-based foster program

Having a well-run foster program reduces the number of animals within your shelter, providing a less stressful environment for those living there. Foster programs are also a great way to engage with your community and increase lifesaving exponentially. During this town hall our expert panel will discuss ways to build up your foster program using recruitment and retention strategies, and share tips on how to utilize your fosters in unique ways to maximize lifesaving. We’ll also share details about the Maddie’s Fund We Foster Challenge, kicking off later this month.

Moderator: Christine Colvin - National Community Engagement Coordinator, Best Friends Animal Society 


  • Amanda Graus - Foster Coordinator, Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society 
  • Carolyn Fitzgerald – Senior Manager, Lifesaving Programs, Best Friends Animal Society  
  • Kelly Duer - Foster Care Specialist, Maddie’s Fund 

Time Stamps:

  • Panelist introductions- 1:30 
  • Building a foster program - foundation & sustainability- 3:00 
  • Community support & getting volunteers involved- 6:15 
  • Peer to peer support / foster mentorship- 8:30
  • Recruiting fosters- 12:45
  • Using social media to expand your foster program- 17:30 
  • Explaining fostering to the public- 19:20
  • Foster to Adopt and Pre-Adoption Programs- 21:01
  • Building trust & risk management- 23:40 
  • Foster to adopt process – training materials & onboarding- 28:51
  • Following through to adoption – marketing tools & empowering the foster- 30:42
  • Managing length of stay- 33:06 
  • Social media – balancing urgency & transparency to get the community to support and take action- 34:46 
  • Working through challenges while starting a foster program- 36:58 
  • Maddie’s Fund We Foster Challenge- 40:00 
  • Creating a foster program when the shelter is opposed to sending dogs to foster- 40:32 
  • Satellite foster programs- 41:31 
  • Tips for creating foster pleas- 44:13 
  • Tips for using tools like Canva & Trello- 48:50 
  • Managing foster homes & outcomes including foster to adopt- 50:28 
  • Overlap between foster programs and volunteer programs- 54:38 
  • Example of 5 virtual volunteer roles to support foster programs- 58:57 
  • Tips for foster retention & thanking volunteers- 59:50 


We Foster Challenge, Maddie's Fund

Building a program

Foster Mentor Programs and Foster Management Volunteers

Foster Recruitment/Retention

Empowering Fosters

Using Transparency and Urgency


If you enjoyed this town hall, you can find our complete catalog here