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Nick Kavanagh and Alexa Millstein

Volunteers Direct Facebook Ads to Help Homeless Pets

Longtime Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals volunteer, Nick Kavanagh — a familiar face at many past Alliance events — is helping animal shelters and rescue groups gain greater traction from their Facebook outreach. Nick and his colleague, Alexa Millstein, work at Facebook, where this tech-savvy “dynamic duo” developed a special program to provide free advertising to pet adoption groups active on Facebook. Their goal is to help the groups boost posts to broaden the reach of their animals for adoption and to raise awareness and money to support their programs and activities.

Nick reached out to the Alliance to connect him with NYC-area animal rescue organizations that are active on Facebook. We researched Facebook activity of numerous groups and identified those that appeared to be good prospects for the program. We made the introductions, and Nick and Alexa took it from there. The program they offer is simple, but the potential benefits to the groups are huge. Here’s how: Facebook gives each full-time employee $250 per month in ad credits to use at their discretion. Nick and Alexa coordinate with other Facebook staffers to pool their unused ad credits and channel these credits to animal welfare organizations — up to $1,000 per organization.

“Alexa and I both adore animals, and we were concerned at the start of the pandemic that the economic downturn could result in families having to make the terrible decision of dropping their cherished pets off at shelters, resulting in an occupancy crisis,” explained Nick. “Thankfully, one of the bright spots in this world is people’s enduring love for their pets, and adoption and foster rates are up across most shelters. This has allowed us to pivot from adoption lead strategies to things like fundraising and education initiatives with individual organizations. Long story short, we’re happy to do whatever we can to help the animals. We know they’d do the same for us if they could.”

The dynamic duo has made participation easy for the groups by providing all the guidance and technical expertise needed to require only minimal effort by each group. So far, Bideawee, Cleveland Animal Protective League, Flatbush Cats, Humane Society of the Ochocos, Muddy Paws Rescue, Pet Evacuation Team, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, SPCA of Westchester, and Zani’s Furry Friends are working with the team.

“It’s an honor to be given this incredible opportunity to team up with the Alliance and Facebook,” said Shannon Laukhuf, Executive Director of the SPCA of Westchester. “This generous partnership has enabled our organization to reach new friends and supporters with just one click! Nick’s passion for animal welfare is very apparent and he truly went above and beyond to understand our needs and to create an effective and heartwarming ad for the SPCA of Westchester. In a very short time we’ve already obtained new donors and have reached a great number of potential supporters and adopters for the future. Our deepest thanks to Nick, Facebook, and the Alliance for their kindness and for giving back to the community and supporting homeless animals is need.”

Anna Lai, Marketing Director for Muddy Paws Rescue, voiced her appreciation for the results her organization has achieved since beginning the program. “Muddy Paws Rescue is operating in such challenging times, and to be able to reach new audiences is crucial to our fundraising efforts so that we can continue our lifesaving mission throughout the pandemic and beyond. So far, our team is delighted to see an increase in engagement across social media as well as traffic on our donation platform.”

The Alliance is extremely grateful to Nick and Alexa for sharing their vision, talents, and Facebook ads with animal rescue groups and shelters, ultimately helping these organizations save the lives of more homeless dogs, cats, and other pets. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to connect the team with NYC-area pet adoption groups. Our role as connector will continue to be a major part of our mission moving forward. We hope you will read about our mission and goals for 2020 and support our efforts to improve the lives of NYC’s animals and the people who care for them!