December is the month when we are asked most often which animal charities to support.
Many people follow their favorite charities through social media but, despite the barrage of frenzied pleas, want to know if there are other desperate organizations doing good work out there that they can support. One concern often expressed: “How will they use my money? I don’t want it spent on admin – it must go to the animals.”
For most animal charities, their budgets are so tight that there is no room for “improvement” expenditure. The “admin” are volunteers. They struggle to pay the bills. They cannot afford to pay for professional media campaigns or have somebody write their grant applications. As a result, their voices can be lost and they lose out on donor dollars. This is a burn-out cycle.
The most successful animal charities I know are those that do pay attention to their admin needs. They are willing to spend a percentage of their donor dollars to pay skilled staff or contractors to help them manage their funds, run effective fundraising campaigns and apply for all available grants.
This expenditure is easily justified, according to one charity CEO. “For every ten thousand we spend on these costs per year, we raise one hundred thousand in donations. That is a lot of animals that we can now help that we couldn’t before!”
There is one international cat charity that I have supported for many years. They could not have got to where they are now without paying their CEO and support staff living wages. That allowed a focus on constant improvement and strategic planning with the result that millions of cats worldwide have benefited from their programs.
There are many local and international charities doing incredible work, and it can be hard to pick out a few that are extra worthy of your donations. The volume and diversity of needs is overwhelming. While I prefer to support programs that are known to be effective in improving animal and human welfare — picking organizations that collaborate with other charities to share resources, and have policies in place to care for their volunteers — I also follow my heart when giving.
Whether you prefer to give a donation to small local struggling charity that will help pull them out of financial quagmire, feed the animals, pay the vet bills and see into the future; or if you prefer to give to an established larger organization, you can’t go wrong. Every dollar does make a difference.
A wonderful festive season to everyone in our generous community!
Nicolette Joosting is a veterinarian living in Harrison Hot Springs.