Volunteers (Photo credit: vastateparksstaff)

Could your organization use more volunteers?

Of course!

Animal rescue organizations need volunteers to walk dogs, socialize cats, clean cages, give tours, work at events…the list goes on and on. The work never ends when you’re constantly taking in new animals and looking for good homes.

But here’s the funny thing:

Sometimes I come across organizations who beg for help and then make it very difficult to become a volunteer. Think I’m kidding? The following is a list of real experiences I have had with local non-profits:

  •  I called an organization in June asking for the chance to volunteer. They told me they only train new volunteers in January.
  •  I called a rescue looking for a volunteer opportunity and they told me I would have to wait a month for the next volunteer training class.
  •  There’s a local animal rescue I have emailed three different times offering to volunteer my time and services and I have never received a reply.
  •  One local non-profit doesn’t list its phone number on its website.
These organizations mean well, but they fail to follow the golden rule of non-profits:

Make it easy for people to start volunteering.

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at th...

The Little Rock Animal Village (Little Rock’s Animal Services) makes it easy to start volunteering quickly by offering walk-in volunteering. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Last summer, I walked in, filled out some paperwork, and after a tour and a short list of do’s and don’ts from a staff member,started walking dogs and petting kitties. I’ve been volunteering my time there at least twice a month now for the past year.

They also offer volunteer training classes for people who want to work with kittens and puppies or do higher-level work like temperament evaluations, but for basic tasks, they don’t require anything more than a willing attitude and adherence to basic rules.

Here’s how to set up walk-in volunteering:

1. Keep a list at all times of things that need to be done. This can range from physical (walking dogs) to virtual (promoting your organization’s Facebook page or website)

2. Use one small strategic barrier just to weed out the crazy people. Have them fill out an informational form, sign a waiver, and copy their driver’s license. It takes fifteen minutes and it will go a long way toward protecting your organization from theft and lawsuits.

Look at your organization’s policies and practices. Are you volunteer-friendly? Comment below.

Coming up next…How To Get More Donations For Your Organization


2 responses »

  1. I have had similar experiences trying to volunteer for shelters/rescues! I have emailed shelters that don’t have numbers listed and received no responses. I had to go to one in person just to find out what sorts of dog food donations they would accept (thankfully, they accepted what I had to offer!)

    The Arkansas Pet Rabbit Network is always accepting new fosters! The easiest way to get a hold of them is through their Facebook group. Any time a new bunny is admitted into the rescue, they are posted on the group, usually begging for a foster home.

    Unfortunately, fostering is not for everybody (including myself, most of the time… I have been able to foster for them before, though), which means that there isn’t much other volunteering people can do except raising awareness of the group.


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