Proven Strategies

Woman in gray scrubs kneeling with black and white dog in front of kennels

We’re back, baby!!

Join us in July for the Best Friends National Conference

We think it’s fitting that we’ve chosen a city known for Southern hospitality to welcome everyone back to the 23rd Best Friends National Conference, presented by Petco Love. We also think you’re probably just as excited as we are to be in Raleigh, North Carolina, July 7th through 9th to celebrate being together again (in person!) for the first time in two years!

The real excitement can be found in the jam-packed speaker schedule featuring loads of innovative and engaging content, as well as the great networking opportunities that occur naturally when lots of amazing minds are in the same place at once.

No matter your level of experience, the Best Friends National Conference offers something for you. You can find all the info about the conference here, but below are some sessions we find particularly exciting. They cover the building blocks of running a successful rescue group or shelter (e.g., fundraising, community cat programs), ways to address a lack of diversity in our work, and advice for reaching the no-kill 2025 goal while juggling significant everyday challenges:

  • Moving from Reactive Fundraising to a Proactive Development Plan (Sandy Rees). Without some money in the bank, implementing transport programs, hiring more staff or funding the needs of neonates would be impossible. While many of us dread asking for dollars, speaker Sandy Rees makes her living training professionals how to grow their fundraising skills. She’ll be sharing how to create a written plan in six easy steps, so that your organization can plan instead of waiting for an urgent situation to drive your quest for donors.
  • CCP 101: Starting and Shaping Your Own Community Cat Program (Leah Long, Penny Brunies, Denton Hawk) Anyone who has implemented a community cat program (CCP) knows it can be magical in terms of saving the lives of felines in your facility. But there are some daunting aspects that must be taken care of first, like issues with ordinances and stakeholders who are dubious about such a drastic shift in policies and procedures. Team members from Montgomery Humane Society in Alabama and St. Tammany Parish Animal Services in Louisiana will discuss how they created “custom paths to CCPs that fit their shelter’s unique dynamics.”
  • Pet Adoption Practicum: How to Turbo-Charge Your Adoption Process (Two parts) (Susan Cosby) You haven’t dusted off your adoption contracts in ages? Or reviewed your policies or the training built around them? Sue Cosby, senior director of Best Friends Lifesaving Centers, is here to talk about why examining your pet adoption practices is overdue and how to craft new ones built around three guiding principles. Part 2 of the session will give attendees a chance to pull out their own adoption applications and analyze them to see how they measure up to these principles.
  • A Practical Guide to Racial Equity in Animal Welfare (Allison Cardona, Maria Solacito) Many individuals and industries have been looking inward over the past few years and realizing that systemic racism is very much alive in our culture. Animal services is no exception, so we’ve invited two experts from the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control to talk about how they’ve been revising their policies and procedures with the help of L.A. County’s Anti-Racism Diversity and Inclusion initiative.
  • How to Prioritize Your Work When Everything Is a Priority (Brent Toellner) More and more animal welfare organizations are embracing the current shift toward engaging the community in the work of saving lives. But it can be tough to strive for big goals when it’s a challenge to just get through the days. Staffing shortages, budget crunches and a crisis in the veterinary industry are just a few of the factors that put progress seemingly out of reach. Best Friends’ senior director of national programs will cover how to structure positive change to match your current resources, as well as how to think about ways to engage more public resources so that you can move forward someday soon.
  • One Health: Exploring the Intersection of Human, Animal and Environmental Health in Our Communities (Sloane Hawes, Kevin Morris) If you’ve wondered how to measure the impact of your outreach programs, you’re in luck. One Health is a model being used to evaluate how successful shelter programs are keeping pets and people together. The research team from the University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection will share what they learned from analyzing four years of data from the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life program.
  • Simple Recruitment and Retention Strategies for Nonprofits (Mary Beth Hartleb) If your organization is currently fully staffed, count yourself among the fortunate ones. Demand for higher wages and staff burnout are making it more and more difficult to both recruit and retain good employees. Human resources expert Mary Beth Hartleb shares proven strategies for attracting new staff members and creating a positive workplace that will keep them engaged and committed to your organization’s long-term success.

If you can spare the time to get to Raleigh a day early, we are holding a Deep-Dive Day on July 6th. Sessions include “Business Side of Saving Animals,” “Dynamic Rescue Solutions;” “Essential Field Services;” “Executive Leadership;” “High-Impact Community Engagement;” and “Sustainable Fundraising.” Go here for more details.

Representatives from Petco Love, Maddie’s Fund® and PetSmart Charities will be available to talk about the various grants and resources that your organization can apply to receive. And last but certainly not least, you can visit “The Hub,” which will be packed with more than 40 exhibitors and sponsors and is home to loads of networking opportunities.

July will be here before you know it—and so will the opportunity to engage with other animal lovers, learn from the pros and get reinvigorated about saving lives! We think Julie Castle summed it up perfectly way back in 2019, when she said, “If you haven’t been to a Best Friends National Conference, it’s like no other gathering of animal people anywhere!”

We couldn’t agree more.

This year’s conference registration fee is $395, but anyone who registers April 30th or sooner will get $100 off. We’re also offering network partners an additional $50 off their registration for each person in their organization; check your partner newsletter or email us at to get your code.

If you enjoyed this program spotlight, you can find our complete catalog of spotlights here