Recently, Fast Company announced its second annual “Brands That Matter” list, which includes Best Friends Animal Society. The national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025 was honored based on its ability to authentically communicate its mission and ideals, and demonstrate brand purpose and relevance through cultural impact and social engagement.
“We are thrilled to be recognized by Fast Company for our work saving the lives of shelter pets across the country,” said Best Friends Animal Society CEO Julie Castle. “As the entire world reckons with a new normal, Best Friends’ commitment to saving lives, helping animal shelters and empowering individuals remains as strong as ever. Connection to those we love and care about - our animals, our fellow humans, and our communities - means everything. Best Friends matters because preserving that connection is our purpose.”
Like others, Best Friends needed to continually adjust to the reality ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The pandemic not only challenged the organization’s work, but the animal welfare industry itself, from staffing shortages that limited hours, to decreased in-person volunteers, and reduced adoption events and pet care support. According to Best Friends’ dataset, in 2021 the number of dogs and cats killed in U.S. shelters increased for the first time in five years to 355,000. This was especially stark when compared to the dramatic lifesaving efforts seen throughout 2020.
While shelters grapple with increasing intakes and waning adoptions, due in part to the economic downturn, Best Friends has helped drive momentum for lifesaving with more than half of all U.S. shelters now no-kill. Throughout 2021, Best Friends played a critical role in nearly every arena of animal sheltering in supporting shelters and rescue organizations. From working with legislators to create policies that protect pets and their families to implementing programs preventing animals from entering shelters in the first place, Best Friends community-based solutions are saving lives and helping to push the field of animal welfare forward.
One such program called the Prince and Paws Shelter Collaborative program pairs no-kill (mentor) shelters with under-resourced (fellow) shelters still striving to achieve no-kill. Mentors work directly with fellows to guide operations, expand adoption programs and foster vital community engagement. Other programs proving to be highly effective include cat lifesaving programs, inclusive adoption policies, and advocacy work around pet housing restrictions. Data shows that shelters that engaged with Best Friends Best Friends Animal Society included in “Brands That Matter” in at least one of these programs saved more than two times the number of lives between 2016 and 2021 than unengaged shelters.
“We focus on motivating the public through positive, solution-oriented storytelling, even when discussing serious and difficult issues. Every correspondence aims to convey any single person can make a difference, and every single person is encouraged to do just that,” added Castle. Fast Company’s list, which includes large multinational conglomerates, small-but-mighty companies, and nonprofits, recognizes 145 brands that give people compelling reasons to care about them - and offer inspiration for others to buy in. All 145 have found an ability to forge an emotional connection with customers, whether leading on the environment or pop culture, engaging B2B customers, or responding meaningfully to current events.
“This year, we’ve expanded the Brands That Matter program to evaluate honorees in the context of how they matter within the category in which they compete for people’s attention or loyalty. The result is a wide-ranging list of honorees that are making their mark on culture, and through social impact,” said Brendan Vaughan, Fast Company’s editor-in-chief.
Fast Company editors judged each brand on relevancy, cultural impact, ingenuity, and business impact to compile the list.