They've tried everything. The people who run the shelter (entirely privately funded, by the way) go to schools, businesses, and religious meetings in the four neighboring counties on a regular basis. They have a spot on the local news once a week. They put ads in the local papers...
We even work with the county-funded shelters and the few small groups in the area that are running their own shelters through fostering. The problem is that none of them have the funding to operate a s/n clinic, and our shelter pays the entire bill. It's not that big of an issue, we have great people who back us financially.
We do s/n clinics every Tuesday. An average of 30 to 50 cats A WEEK are fixed. Some weeks we get more. In addition to cheap s/n, they can also get vaccinations at reduced costs.
The problem is that we have people driving farther than 150 miles to use our clinic and to drop off cats. There really isn't an established private shelter in my area of Ohio, and almost all of the local pounds have either been shut down, or have been featured in the news due to horrible conditions. The other small rescue groups around here are no kill, and they haven't had openings in over three years.
So during kitten season, we'll have anywhere from 5 to 20 litters of kittens dropped off at our shelter, on top of the average of 7 adults per day. I think part of the problem is that people have this belief that we're a no kill shelter. I actually though it was this way until I started volunteering. They've never advertised or said they were no kill, they even say on the news that they are full and that almost all of droped animals are put to sleep, but for some reason the community still thinks they are no kill. Plus, the local pounds do put down dropped animals without even thinking twice. At the shelter, dropped cats do have a very slim chance of finding a new home, and I think that's why people choose to drive the distance. It's not like the shelter is in the middle of the city, it's out in the middle of no-where, and it's about a half-hour drive from the rather large cities around.
Edit: I forgot to add that due to funding problems, about 90% of our staff is volunteer only. Only the shelter owners and managers, and the vet staff get paid.
We don't have many volunteers, and it's been harder and harder to find new people as our old volunteers move out of the area.
And as for fostering, we do. But there's only about 200 people who are willing or able to foster, and the average number of cats per foster is about 5 or 6. Some people have 10 or more, one guy even fosters 30 cats because he's built his own cat room for them. Once the spots at the shelter, the annex, the barn, and the fosters are filled - close to 600 or more cats on a good day, animals start being put to sleep. We only manage to adopt out about 30 cats everage per month, and about 5 of those will be returned in the following months.
People around here think it's a better idea to get those free kittens and not spend the money to fix them or get them their shots, or vet care. Our area is the poorest in the state. We're located by where the all the steel mills used to be, and the area never recovered from when they shut down 30 years ago. People around here don't have enough money to buy their food or take their children to the doctors. Why would they spend 90 dollars on a cat? Or even 40 dollars to fix it? I know education is the answer - but you can pound it into their head as much as you want, and they don't have to listen