Adobe Sign for Charities and Not-for-Profit Sector
Whatever the size of your charity, the pandemic has most likely affected the way you and your employees work. From overcoming processes that previously required physical intervention to funding difficulties or onboarding staff safely.
The investment of the right technology and tools can not only help your charity overcome these barriers, but also save them both money and time in the long run.
Adobe Sign makes it easy for anyone in your charity or not-for-profit organisation to send documents for e-signatures – a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. Adobe e-signatures are legally binding and enforceable in almost every industrialised country in the world. With just a few clicks, your organisation can send documents internally or externally. You can then track each document’s status and signed documents are returned 21x faster – saving your organisation time and money.
In this blog, we’re going to be looking at Cats Protection’s journey to Adobe Sign and the huge benefits they’ve experienced since making the move, including:
- Rolled out Adobe Sign to 37 adoption centres in just 5 months
- Placed 9,000+ cats in homes in the first 10 months of 2020 — 5,000 through Adobe Sign
- Sent cats home sooner with adoption signatures in 2.5 hours vs. 2 weeks
- Kept return rates low by helping ensure better matches between cats and families
Who is Cats Protection?
Cats Protection is the UK’s largest feline welfare charity, helping 200,000 cats and kittens every year. Its vision is to create a world where every cat is treated with kindness. It does this by educating the public, campaigning for policy change, rescuing and fostering cats, rehoming them and more.
As Head of IT at Cats Protection, Tony Gamble’s job is to keep technology running for 37 adoption centres and 230 volunteer-run branches across the UK, helping them to find homes for thousands of cats every year. And though most of his work happens behind the scenes, it has a big impact on Cats Protection, the cats it rescues and the people who adopt them.
The need for change
For the past few years, Gamble has been dedicated to helping Cats Protection go digital by rethinking the backend architecture, introducing cloud-based collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and reducing the amount of paper that flows through the charity. The digital transformation has proceeded gradually, increasing efficiency for nearly 1,000 staff and 11,000 volunteers as they rescue and rehome thousands of cats and educate the public on how to care for them properly. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the initiative accelerated.
Cats Protection needed to re-think the adoption process and find a solution that allowed them to continue to re-home cats, with minimal physical intervention to keep staff and adopters safe. “When the UK went into lockdown, our adoption centres closed to the public, but they were still full of cats in need of rehoming,” Gamble says. “We had to keep adoptions moving forward, even though people couldn’t come in to meet the cats and fill in paperwork in person.”
Originally, the adoption process included a lot of paperwork. If paperwork was too slow or cumbersome, adoptions would dwindle, keeping cats from finding their forever homes and leaving less room for new rescues. If it felt too mechanical and impersonal, it would remove all the excitement of welcoming a new pet into the family. Another factor was that adoption centres are managed by a mix of staff and volunteers, many of whom work only one shift per week. The handoff among staff and volunteers had to be seamless.
The job of creating e-signature capabilities for the Hands-Free Homing process fell to Helen Waterman, IT Project and Documentation Officer at Cats Protection. She has extensive experience with technology implementation.
“We chose Adobe Sign to enable e-signatures and make it possible to do all the paperwork online instead of sending it back and forth through the post — so cats can get into their forever homes faster.” Waterman says.
Waterman started with a small pilot group of adoption centres in April 2020. Just five months later, all 37 centres were using Adobe Sign for adoption documents, which include the bill of adoption, terms of business, the cat’s medical summary and pet insurance form. That enables staff, volunteers and pet owners to minimise the amount of contact they have with each other — meeting only briefly to transfer the cat to its new family.
Each adoption centre has its own shared group within Adobe Sign, which allows staff and volunteers to keep adoptions flowing smoothly even as individuals cycle in and out of their shifts. That means documents that would have taken two weeks to finalise are now completed in an average of 2.5 hours. Not only is that good for the cats and their new families, it also gives Cats Protection more space to accept emergency cases, including animals whose owners passed away unexpectedly.
By October 2020, Cats Protection had found homes for more than 9,000 cats, with over 5,000 of those adoptions managed through the Hands-Free Homing process. And the organisation had kept the quality of its matches high, making sure the new owners were a good fit for the cats.
“The well-being of cats is our number one priority and we want to make sure they go to the right homes,” says Waterman. “With Hands-Free Homing, we’ve been able to help people choose cats that are a better fit for their lifestyles and expectations — rather than relying on the emotional reaction people have when they walk into a room of 40 fluffy kittens. That has helped keep return rates down.”
For Cats Protection, Adobe Sign represents an unexpected, but welcome, acceleration of its digital strategy, which Gamble was planning to roll out gradually. The quick adoption of e-signatures has helped the organisation meet many of its goals much sooner than expected, reducing paper, making staff and volunteers more mobile, moving to the cloud and enabling remote collaboration. With the help of Adobe Sign, Cats Protection has been able to continue moving the charity forward, working toward the goal of a better world for cats – despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.
“By laying those foundations early, we were in a much better position to cope with the pandemic than many charities,” says Gamble. “The fact that we were able to roll out Hands-Free Homing so quickly and successfully – with technologies such as Adobe Sign – is something to celebrate.”
Adobe Sign filled the immediate need for e-signatures on adoption paperwork, but its impact is already spreading. With a reliable audit trail of every adoption in a single repository, Cats Protection has improved its compliance with legal and insurance requirements. Staff members can access adoption documents instantly and see exactly where they are in the process, which significantly reduces the administrative burden. Plus, e-signatures help Cats Protection reduce its paper use and shrink its carbon footprint.
Now, Cats Protection has begun to roll out Adobe Sign as well to other departments beyond adoption, including procurement, legal, information governance and veterinarians in the field. Plans are in the works to extend e-signatures to finance, streamlining payments and event registration fees, as well as the full branch network of 250 volunteer-run locations. There’s a lot of work ahead, but Gamble and Waterman know it’s important work – for the cats and the charity.