If you are thinking about starting your own animal welfare organization, there are a few items to keep in mind before you get started to ensure that the process will be a successful and rewarding experience.
If you are an empathic person with the driving force to do what it takes to improve the life of animals and people in your neighborhood, city, or country, the first thing you have to keep in mind that your endeavor, whether it is for profit or not, is a business. Indeed, if you were able to identify a problem, come up with a solution or a way to help improve a situation, and draft a series of steps to make it happen, then you are an entrepreneur. Thus, all the rules of starting a business are applicable to your organization.
Where To Start
Running a successful animal organization takes more that good intentions. It will require extensive research, planning, and “learning by doing”. Even if you are planing a non-profit, volunteer-run dog rescue facility, you will need to think as an entrepreneur and plan as if you were a business startup, thus applying business principles to your organization.
Business Goals & Objectives:
- Customer Service
- Employee Retention
Whether you are dreaming about a “no-kill” animal shelter, an animal-assisted therapy practice, or any sort of animal organization, you probably have these goals and objectives:
- Be efficient to deliver the highest level of output and achieve the best possible results, using the least amount of resources while minimizing risks;
- Provide effective solutions to the need that you have identified;
- Grow and expand to spread goodwill to even more animals, people, or places; and
- Build a legacy, so your endeavor can continue to deliver solutions in the future.
But…What If I Am Not Selling Any Products?
Even if you are not selling physical goods, you can consider the solution that you are providing to your community as your product. Furthermore, you can see the individuals who help you keep your operation running as employees, and those who contribute with donations as your clients. To ensure sustainability, you will need to develop a base of regular supporters and build a team of volunteers committed to you mission.
Obtain a consistent stream of donations, whether in money or services, requires the development of a base of regular supporters who clearly understand your goals. You need to keep them updated with information about your objectives, milestones, new projects, etc., and provide them with user-friendly reports. Keeping your organization running smoothly demands that you to determine your main method of acquiring financial support and find the most efficient system to manage and serve your base of supporters.
Since you cannot grow and expand an organization’s reach successfully as a one-person operation, building a team of committed volunteers is crucial. To do so, it will be necessary to understand the principles of team building, leadership and management of all aspects of a business, including of human resources.
Operating A Service Organization
Now that you have identified the solution that you will be offering, you have engaged your supporters, you are managing a team of volunteers, assistants, and advocates, your organization began look like a business with a mission to deliver a specific service to your community.
Finding a loving home to abandoned or stray animals, providing animal-assisted therapies (AAT) or affordable guide dogs for visual impaired people will certainly add value and spread goodwill around the world. However, it will also take a lot of effort in terms of networking and communications.
Growing your network as well as understanding the importance of your contacts and managing them in an strategic way are key for building fruitful relationships with those who make you organization run successfully.
Even before launching, you need to make your community aware of your mission, values, and objetives. If you are creating a new brand, all the principles of marketing and communications apply. A professional and well-designed communication approach will help you build trust in your network of supporters, advocates, and the general public.
Consequently, like in any business startup, a marketing strategy is essential for getting noticed, promoting your events, communicating your accomplishments, and developing partnerships.
In the digital era, online marketing allows you to amplify your efforts, improve your chances of interacting with your audience and reach new ones. A relevant online presence is a powerful tool to communicate, inspire, and motivate people beyond any barrier.
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” ― Mark Twain
So, What Are You Waiting For?
Every large, powerful, successful organization was once a small endeavor. If you feel that you can help improve the life of animals in your area, there is a perfect moment to start: NOW!
To set yourself up for success, you will need leadership and managerial skills, which are best obtained when “learning by doing”. Thus, volunteering at any organization will be a clever first step to learn from the experience of others, and acquire management and team leader experience from a volunteer perspective.
To learn from those who already turned their passion for animals into a successful initiative: