Earlier this year, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) “. . . announced that it has teamed up with WebThriftStore.com to launch an online thrift store where its supporters can sell unneeded goods on behalf of the ASPCA, which will receive 80 percent of the sales proceeds.”
It is understood that national non-profit organizations must fundraise in order to meet their mission of helping people and/or animals in their designated field. In fact, in order to help others the development person or group within a charitable organization is often viewed as the foundation from which the organization launches all its good works. We are a capitalistic society and money continues to drive the work we do and often how successful we become.
The non-profit world is often viewed as different because its goals are usually more altruistic than those in the for-profit domain, but when it comes to national non-profits and local non-profit concerns of the same defined mission is there an imaginary line in place that might get crossed that harms fundraising efforts of one or the other?
“Brick and mortar” thrift stores can be a lucrative part of the overall fundraising plan of local animal shelters that help keep their operations intact. Many non-profits solicit goods from the communities they serve to sell in order to provide needed services to their two or four-legged constituencies. People feel good when they can donate to a cause they believe in and animals are certainly one of the most worthwhile causes there are.
When this columnist first received notification from the ASPCA about this new venture there was a caution flag raised knowing of the traditional role thrift stores play in some local non-profits economy. We expressed our concern to the ASPCA by directly questioning the possible impact this national fundraising initiative will have on local animal organizations that depend on the thrift stores they run to fund part of their operations. In short, would this national initiative take money away from local funding efforts?
In their press release Jim Echikson, senior director of corporate partnerships for the ASPCA, said, “The creation of this online thrift store gives our supporters a unique new way to make a valuable contribution to our cause. In lieu of making a monetary contribution – which can be tough for some in this economy – the public can now finally get around to cleaning out their garages, attics, and storage lockers and help animals in need across the country at the same time.” We thought many people were already “cleaning out” and helping local non-profit efforts, like their local animal shelter, in their own community.
We have a lot of respect for national animal organizations like the ASPCA and others and recognize the support they provide to local animal concerns through grants, resources, information and campaigns to protect animals. The ASPCA told us that it “. . . recognizes the great work that shelters are doing on a local level across the country – in fact, we work to assist them and would never want to detract from their efforts. The ASPCA is a national organization that actually granted about $15 million in cash grants (plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in human resources, training and other life-saving services around the country, for programs like the National Spay/Neuter Project training) to organizations in all 50 states and territories in 2011.”
Moreover, they continued, “So while we do not have a formal affiliation with local SPCAs throughout the country,we assist SPCAs, humane societies and local shelters financially, as well as provide human and other non-monetary resources toward animal sheltering programs and innovations, legislative issues, anti-cruelty and disaster response efforts on a national scale. There are many shelters and rescue groups at the local, regional, and national level working to improve the welfare of animals, and we work closely with many of them to fulfill our shared mission of saving more lives. The ASPCA’s role as a national organization is to make sure at-risk animals all across the country are protected and cared for.”
It is not our intent to question the well intentioned assistance the ASPCA may provide to various local entities with its funds. We applaud them for that and certainly understand the need for any charitable concern, be it national or local, to aggressively fundraise. If not, their operations would come to an almost immediate halt.
Said WebThriftStore.com Founder and CEO Douglas Krugman, “We are honored that the ASPCA has chosen to join us as one of our first charity partners. WebThriftStore.com enables the ASPCA and its supporters to get all the benefits of running a national network of thrift stores without the costs and risks of creating one with bricks-and-mortar. It makes sense for everyone – charities, donors and shoppers – and it’s something everyone can feel good about.”
There can be an overlap in the people non-profits target in their fundraising efforts. It sometimes seems like they’re both competing for the same charitable dollar, but at the same time national and local animal concerns often work together to support each other in their shared mission of protecting our four-legged friends. That’s what makes us hesitant in questioning the impact this particular national fundraising effort may have on local entities vying for the same dollars, but still we feel a little uneasy and concerned.
Local animal organizations, especially in this economy, do we have reason to be concerned or do you think this national effort will have little or no impact on your own “bricks-and-mortar” thrift store profit that directly benefits your local shelter or rescue operation? Tell us what you think.
In their direct response to this columnist, the ASPCA stated, “We do not believe that the online thrift store will have an impact on local brick and mortar thrift stores operated by shelters.” We hope they are right.
From our friends back in the Washington, DC Metropolitan region comes a recruiting notification. Loudoun County Animal Services located in Northern Virginia is seeking a Behavior Program Manager to oversee their animal behavior and enrichment program. Qualified applicants can see the full job description and application process posted at: https://www.jobaps.com/ldn/sup/BulPreview.asp?R1=12&R2=T307&R3=173.
If you have a desire to move north this is an opportunity to help animals you may want to look into.
Finally, congratulations to Pookie’s Pet Nutrition and Bow Wow Bakery on a very successful RescueFest 2012. Approximately 5,000 people attended and provided tremendous exposure for the rescue groups and businesses showcased at this event.
According to Pookie’s, this event resulted in benefits to thirty rescues with each group receiving a distribution check from Project Paws for $400 to assist with vetting, food or medication costs that rescues always have in their efforts to save homeless animals. Moreover, the event produced the following:
- 61 Adoptions
- 74 Applications
- 13 Fosters
- 33 Volunteers
Pookie’s has already met with the City of Maitland about booking Lake Lily again for RescueFest 2013.