I have a soft spot for animal shelters and their furry residents. A few years ago, my hubby and I adopted our precious kitties, Denny and Ceci, from a shelter.

There’s something beautiful about giving an abandoned, abused, or forgotten pet a second chance at love.

Animal shelters serve an important role in that mission.

They can benefit a lot from digital marketing—specifically to find more forever homes for the pets in their care.

Unfortunately, like other nonprofits, they also suffer from a lack of resources – both financial and human. They have a limited (if any) budget. They rely on volunteer labor. They run on donations and grants from local municipalities.

It’s a delicate balancing act. What can we do for free or cheap that has the biggest return on effort?

A few years ago, I spent a year leading a small student-run nonprofit. We had a similar problems:

A mission. A limited budget. A reliance on grants. Free membership. And Every activity or event we organized relied on volunteer efforts.

At the start of my term, our digital presence was a single Facebook page where we posted updates about membership, events, and volunteer opportunities. It became clear, though, after interactions with new and and existing members that it was difficult to stay informed about what was going on.

The Problem with Facebook

A lot gets lost in the noisy-ness of your Facebook feed. Not to mention, Facebook controls (and is constantly changing) who sees your updates.

A quick analysis of our Facebook post reach showed that as little as 33% of our Facebook followers were actually seeing our updates—and at most, 50% were. That means, half or more of our Facebook followers didn’t know what we were up to.

I saw a need for a simple website. So I built one. In a single afternoon. With no web development skills. I did it with zero cost. And I used a tool that was super easy for anyone to update. (Hang on… you’ll get to see it below.)

In the digital world, the most critical resource you can have is a website.

… a one-stop-shop where the people who would donate, volunteer, foster, or adopt can find the information they need to take the next step.

The pros of using a website are many, but here are my top 3:

  1. It’s easy to find you online. If you aren’t Google-able, then you can’t be found.
  2. It’s easy to share across the web.
  3. It eliminates the info-related obstacles that keep you from getting more adoptions.

A lot of animal shelters don’t have websites. And it’s a huge missed opportunity because you can create a free website with absolutely no specialised skills.

Yes, you heard right.

You can create a simple website for your animal shelter for free. To prove it to you, I did it…

Last week, I built a site in about 2 hours for a fictional animal shelter. Here’s what it cost me:

  • $0. Zilch. Zero. I used a Strikingly free account and built everything with the core features.
  • 2 hours of my free time for the whole site (including looking for pictures). The template is pre-designed and customized using a drag-and-drop interface.
  • Free public domain pictures sourced from Pixabay. Though, if you run a shelter, I recommend using your own.

Remember, I have NO web development skills.

Yes, you can do it too. It doesn’t have to cost you a dime, just a few hours of your time. No, you don’t need any design or web development skills.

If you’re ready to find more forever homes for lost, abandoned, abused, and otherwise forgotten animals, here’s how you can build your own simple, free animal shelter website.

  1. Create a free Strikingly account.
  2. Open my Kozy Kitty Rescue demo website in a new tab. Use it as a guide, as inspiration, for your own animal shelter site.
  3. From your Strikingly dashboard, click the green ‘Create new site’ button.
  4. Choose a pre-designed template. (I used Maker.)
  5. Start draggin’ and droppin’ in the editor.
  6. Share your creations with me!

(Demo site: http://kittyrescuedemo.strikingly.com/)

I’m excited to see what you come up with! Make sure you share your creations with me on Facebook.