Today’s topic is about managing costs when running a rescue organization. It is written by Linda Isbell of Northern Chesapeake Sheltie Rescue, Inc. in Maryland.
More rescues fail from lack of funds than any other cause, even shortages of foster homes. When I started our rescue I sent an email out to other sheltie rescues asking if their biggest issue was money or space; money won hands down.
Managing the costs involved in running a rescue is a daily task. Many rescues that fold would not or could not do any fundraising. It is impossible to exist on adoption fees and donations alone. NCSR does not have a “budget”, but we do understand what the limitations are, and we have ways to fundraise to raise money in a hurry if we need to.
Our first source of course is adoption fees and donations from owner turn-ins. All our dogs are fully vetted at intake. We have negotiated a reduced price for spay/neuter from our vets; we use the same two vets except for emergencies. Our foster home contract specifies who these vets are, and that they must be used for all vet care except emergency situations. Our supplies are bought in bulk from suppliers who discount for rescues. NCSR networks with other sheltie rescues and we pass along information on good deals when we find them.
We also do periodic fundraisers; we sell candy, flowers, and pizzas from well known fundraising companies. We try to do 3 -4 a year. We also have begun doing Quarter Auction fundraisers. We do raffles of donated items at our larger events, and also sell NCSR and breed related items. We sell candy bars in our offices where permitted. Donation jars are out at every event. Even a few hundred dollars is enough to offset one dog’s vet care. We are always on the lookout for new ideas to raise money; it is a high priority.
In times of extreme need, as when we took in an older female sheltie with a condition that could only be confirmed with exploratory surgery, we turn to our base of volunteers and adopters. We have begun sending out a quarterly newsletter updating the dogs we have taken in, and include a request for donations. We have a PayPal account to accept donations, and also make sure our address is on all our correspondence. Our adopters are our greatest supporters. We try very hard to foster a “family” relationship with them; they are very special people and have come through for us in emergencies.
Last, we have a credit card. We unfortunately have had to use it more than we ever intended, but it has helped us make it through some difficult times. Part of our founding philosophy is that we never turn a sheltie away due to medical issues or age, and we have been able to keep that promise.