Last week we posted our first paid job posting, a part time Fund Development Manager. This post led to a series of posts and discussions on Facebook about whether it is appropriate to pay someone to raise money, and whether rescue work should even be paid work at all. Whether or not organizations should allocate specific resources towards fund raising staff is not just an issue that animal welfare and rescue organizations struggle with. The Social Services sector is also challenged to prioritize fund development costs among their increasingly shrinking budgets and expanding service delivery needs. But all one needs to do is to look at the large organizations (both human and animal related) across the country to see the value in making fund development a priority, both in the allocation of fiscal and human resources.
The bigger issue in our minds is what appears to be a mentality that animal welfare/rescue work does not have the same value as social (human) service work and people should not be paid to do this lifesaving work.
Some of these comments are based on valid concerns that there is a lack of transparency and accountability in animal welfare/rescue work, and without proper checks and balances, unscrupulous individuals could turn a profit off the backs of animal suffering. There is no doubt that the animal welfare/rescue system needs a professional overhaul. We have addressed this issue numerous times, and advocate for more regulation and systems of accountability. But whether an organization chooses to pay staff or not has nothing to do with whether another organization is engaging in unethical rescue practices, and fraudulently reporting how their resources are allocated. Rather, that is a result of government abdicating their responsibility towards animals and leaving the community responsible for their welfare, their rescue, and their rehabilitation. The welfare of animals in BC is completely dependent on the community, from setting up organizations and networks to rescue, rehome, rehabilitate and educate to raising the money to do this work. The government does not even fund the enforcement of their own animal cruelty laws, but rather designates that power and the responsibility to fund the delegation of these duties to a non-governmental agency. And when animal cruelty charges are laid, the judicial system (an extension of our government) hands down sentences so lenient one would think no real harm had been done in the first place. At the federal government level, in order for an animal welfare/rescue to qualify for charity status they must demonstrate how their activities benefit humans first. This leaves organizations such as Mercy for Animals Canada and Fur Bearers unable to acquire charity status.
One of the consequences of this abdication of responsibility is the lack of regulation and accountability. Another consequence is the perception that this work has no value.
Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is one of the new kids on the block. Half way into our fourth year, we are always learning new things and we are indebted to the rescue community for their openness to our vision and willingness to work with us. And we are so excited about our goals and moving forward to achieve our vision of sustainable animal welfare in BC.
But what does sustainable animal welfare mean? Our goal is to create a better place for animals to be here in BC. To do this, we believe the organizations who are currently doing this valuable work need to be better supported; they need opportunities to increase their organizational capacity, and they need to have opportunities to support and develop their human resources. We also need to bring animal welfare issues to the community, and to make the issues that impact animals a priority. We need to create meaningful partnerships so we can work together to be a strong voice for animals in our province. And we need to do this in an infrastructure that can be sustained over the long term, and that can be held accountable and has the capacity to evolve and respond to the needs of the community.
To achieve these laudable goals, we must have a strategic plan, a fund raising plan, and a sustainability plan. We must create a business plan, and we need to demonstrate to our donors that we have the capacity to effectively manage the hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars we need to raise to achieve our goals. Our hope is that together with our partners, we can be a catalyst for meaningful and sustainable change. To do this, we need to collaborate and we need to shift the narrative.
Creating a business model, hiring staff, developing a communications and public relations strategy does not mean we care less, it means that we are serious about caring and we want to ensure we can continue to care for a long time.