Dispelling A Myth

This past 2 weeks has been incredibly busy for GDRP. We have taken in more than 40 dogs, most of which needed to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, micro chipped, groomed, photographed, and evaluated. We participated in two ‘off-site’ adoption events, had a film maker present several days for filming of a documentary, laid plans for a comedy show in August (Raise the WOOF! Watch for details), provided countless tours, conducted our Volunteer Orientation, had approximately 35 ‘meet and greet trials’ for potential adoptions, all while maintaining our regular adoption hours at the facility. In truth, this just scratches the surface of all that was accomplished in this short period.

At one of our events, I was faced (again) with someone who was appalled at our adoption prices. On average the cost to adopt is about $225. Across the Rescue community, this is actually a fairly low fee. Regardless, it is not the first time I came face to face with someone who wanted to accuse me ‘being in it for the money’. In an effort to explain to this person why the adoption fee is set as it is, it made me realize that too many people really don’t have any idea what it costs to operate a rescue group. I myself am often inundated with requests from an overwhelming number of people/groups in need of financial donations, be it for Animals, Firemen, Veterans, Children, Wildlife, Cancer, Diabetes, Political causes, … the list goes on and on. I often find myself holding back on requesting donations simply because of the number of requests “I” receive. How do we choose where to send what limited funds we have? Perhaps this information may help you to make a confident decision.

I’ll speak of Green Dog Rescue Project specifically. We operate on an average annual budget that totals about $120,000 per year. The bulk of that income is from Fundraising efforts (mind you we do NOT have an event coordinator per say so it is left to myself and volunteers to squeeze in time to create and execute these events), additional funds come from donations, and of course, our adoption fees. We employ 1 full time position to oversee the health and housing of our dogs (THANK YOU KING’S KASTLE staff for all you do to care for our dogs), and one part time position to oversee the volunteers, junior program, administrative duties, newsletter, and day to day operations (THANK YOU SHANNON for being paid for 20 hours per week and volunteering 50 hours a week!!). Everyone else that sees to the needs of our dogs and the programs we offer are volunteers, including myself. For every 10 volunteers that complete the orientation and eagerly begin working with GDRP, we are lucky if 1 sticks with it. This is not a GDRP statistic, but an average statistic among the majority of non-profits. SIDE NOTE: I don’t say this enough, but our volunteers are GOLDEN and we LOVE all you do for this organization. So THANK YOU!!!

The average cost to prepare a dog ( a healthy, balanced, and generally considered ‘easy’ dog ) can average $500. That cost includes vaccinations, micro chip, spay/neuter, food, grooming, training, collar, ID tags, and general care. Of course we receive many dogs that are not in great condition or socially balanced, and those dogs may require additional medical care and/or training. We have worked tirelessly to lower the cost of basic medical care (such as spay/neuters) by working with our Veterinarians, and even though we have some FANTASTIC Vets working with us and have made our medical expenses more affordable, the bottom line is that the practice of veterinary medicine does not

always align with the nobility of animal rescue. In fact, our highest annual expense is medical care (a direct allocation of your donation!).

GDRP is actually very proud to boast that for every dollar you may donate to our cause, approximately 90% of that dollar goes to direct care for the animals you intended it for, unlike some large and well known organizations who receive millions of dollars annually, yet only pennies on the dollar make it directly to the animals in need. For these nationally known organizations, they often ‘spend money to make money’ by allotting extraordinary amounts of their donations for marketing campaigns and administration costs. Who of you have not had your heartstrings tugged at when viewing that poor, shivering, starved dog standing in the rain? I know I have… however I find myself turning the volume down or changing the channel because I am over saturated with these images during their ‘pledge your donation today’ campaigns. In truth, I often find myself mumbling something to the effect of “PUT THE CAMERA DOWN AND GET THAT DOG OUT OF THERE.”

Perhaps GDRP doesn’t do enough in the marketing arena (although we are only too happy to change that if you are reading this and want to volunteer to take that arena under your wing!). Instead we find ourselves using our time on actually working with each dog to prepare them for their new lives in a new home.

For those who are distressed over the cost of our adoptions, I ask you to review the cost of preparing a dog for adoption. For those who still wish to express that we are obviously not doing enough to negotiate with veterinarians to lower the costs of our fees, I invite you whole heartedly to contact me and take on the task of new negotiations. For those who have skills in researching available grants and willing to write them for us, again, contact me post haste! And for those of you out there that wish to donate, I encourage you to ask questions about the organization you are considering. How much of your donation will actually make it to the intended target and how much is diverted to overhead, salaries, marketing, etc? If you are comfortable with the answer, then donate away… if not, do not feel guilty about sending your money to an organization that actually keeps the money where it was intended to go. Most often, small local organizations are a much more effective way to see your money in action. Although we appreciate national organizations for the most part, the truth is that if you want your donation to be used for YOUR community, then keep it IN your community. The smaller organizations are most often the ones in the greatest need, doing the greatest amount of work locally, and invested in YOUR community. If you don’t have the means to donate financially; Volunteer! Get involved. Offer to sit on the Board of Directors, use your talents to expand the organizations bandwidth, pay it forward! We work collaboratively with many other organizations in our local and state community and hear the same struggles across throughout. Our little organizations are in the trenches and doing amazing things on a shoestring budget with a handful of people. Funding is the NUMBER ONE challenge for all of these groups, in part because of the fact that everyone is so busy doing the heavy lifting daily, that the funding piece falls to the wayside. It’s not that we don’t WANT to raise more funds for the work we want to do, but when staring into the eyes of a dog on a chain, a parvo puppy clinging to life and in need of 24 hour care, an abandoned mom with her litter, an URGENT call from an overcrowded shelter preparing for a mass euthanasia, etc. etc… our calling is to take action in the moment and save them if we can… so when faced with planning a Gala or removing hundreds of ticks and providing fluids to a litter of puppies locked in the trunk of a car… well, the Gala is not the priority even if we need the funding. We will figure something else out when the time allows.

In closing, I will make my plea on behalf of the current and future dogs of GDRP… If you are considering or capable of a financial contribution, give today. A recurring monthly donation is EASY to set up and can be given in any amount. Would you really MISS $10 a month? That $10 would vaccinate a dog and potentially save it’s life from Parvo and Distemper! Can you give more?? We wouldn’t turn it away! Can’t give any? Then get involved, volunteer, do a fundraiser with your kids on behalf of GDRP, share our story and mission, be part of the solution. Join the journey!!

Thank you for reading. For Sharing. For Caring.

Colleen Combs