Many workers and businesses around the world have capitalized on the ability to work from home (WFH) and maintain operations virtually from their personal homes with an internet connection. This has led to a sharp rise in virtual meetings around the world and has changed how we meet as stay-at-home and social distancing orders are in effect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many non-profit organizations like yours have shifted focus towards social media to spread awareness and campaign for electronic donations from followers, friends, and more. One animal welfare organization has already started going viral in how they have capitalized on the rise in virtual meetings, and your organization may have an opportunity to do the same!
Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley, has marketed the opportunity for workers and corporations who are hosting virtual meetings to invite sanctuary animals in on video conferences and virtual meetings, with Llamas being the most requested meeting attendee. For a charge of $100, workers can request a Llama or other sanctuary animal, as well as a virtual tour, to be video-showcased in a virtual meeting, and that money goes towards funding for Sweet Farm Sanctuary. Guess what? They’ve had over 300 requests!
With this idea in mind, your organization can also jump in on the virtual meeting trend! No matter the size of your organization or the number of animals you have in your care, you can approach this idea from different angles. Here are a few recommendations we have come up with to help give you some ideas on how you can turn this idea into a reality for your organization:
Equine, Exotic, Farm rescues and sanctuaries:
- Think of the type of animals you have in your care and in your facility. Do you have exotic, wild, or other unique animals? Market those animals on social media, and advertise to followers, friends, and even businesses you know that are utilizing virtual meetings. Market the opportunity for them to get a chance to see some of these animals in their next corporate or personal meeting (hint: Exotics and tigers are BIG talk right now!). Equine and Farm sanctuaries, perhaps think Mr. Ed.
- Host a virtual tour! Pick a date and decide what the tour will showcase and advertise it as a virtual event that others can sign up for and attend! You can set a specific donation amount as a sign-up fee and emphasize that the money collected from those who attend will be direct donations to the organization or ask attendees to consider donating an individual amount towards the organization. Utilize a popular virtual meeting platform like Zoom, Go-To-Meetings, Google Meet, or another known platform to host your virtual tour. We recommend limiting the tour to a specified number of available spots (between 15-20).
- Create an electronic flyer that you can use to outline and advertise your campaign to others via email, social media, etc. Make sure to include a brief description of what you are doing and how it works, the animals you have that can be booked to attend a virtual meeting (or what will be seen on the virtual tour), the booking/donation amount for the animal/tour, and contact information for interested parties to book.
- Want to give attendees the chance to ask specific questions or express topics of interest? Create an online survey to send out to parties that are booked for an animal attendee or tour prior to the virtual event that lets attendees ask questions or express what they are most interested to see/learn, and then cover those inquiries during the event. You can use SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create your survey!
Rescues, Shelters, TNR, Spay, Neuter, Vaccine Clinics
If your organization falls under this category, there is opportunity for you as well! You can also model your virtual meeting ideas after some of the previously listed ideas. However, here are some recommendations and ideas that may fit your organization more appropriately:
- Do you have animals that are still up for adoption? Host a virtual adoption event! If you originally had a big adoption event planned for the year that was cancelled, or you are missing out on being able to host frequent adoption events that you normally have, adapt those events to online. You can utilize the virtual meeting platforms that were previously listed to host an event. It is also a good idea to limit the number of attendees (between 15-20). To help raise funds, consider charging a fixed sign-up amount and emphasize that the money goes as a donation directly to your organization, or encourage attendees to consider donating an individual contribution.
Once you and your organization have a plan and have worked out the details of how you want to go virtual with your animals/facility, it is important that you get the word out! Advertise it on social media, pass the idea around to friends and family, and share it with businesses that you know that may be hosting virtual meetings (hint: advertise your idea as a team building activity and as a great way to boost morale and get some smiles!). When the going gets tough, it’s time to go virtual!