by Tim Crum
Animal Shelter Fundraising (12425 West Bell Road, Suite 117, Surprise AZ 85378), 2014.
85 pages, paperback. $54.99.
Reviewed by Debra J. White
Animal shelters are a refuge for lost, homeless or abused animals, but as author Tim Crum notes, they may not be proficient at raising money. Some employ a full-time fundraiser while others barely scrape by. Crum, for 28 years a professional fundraiser for the sheltering community, in An Animal Shelter’s Guide to Fundraising, offers help to shelters in developing fundraising programs.
Donors usually don’t give money unless asked. Emphasizing the important of asking, Crum’s e-book goes through the fundraising process, from developing the ever-important mission statement, to compiling a donor list, and using it.
Animal shelters lose money on program service. To ready an animal for adoption, costs include spay/neuter, de-worming, vaccinations, micro-chipping, and a medical examination, plus whatever promotional expense is invested in finding potential adopters. Adoption fees tend to be set much lower than the actual cost of rehoming the animal, in order for shelters to remain competitive in the adoption marketplace against free-to-good-home animals and pups from puppy mills. Fundraising makes up the difference, as well as covering costs for other shelter programs such as humane education, and paying staff salaries, doing maintenance, etc.
Crum’s begins by looking at where shelters’ operating budgets come from. Individuals (74%) are the biggest source of funding, well ahead of corporate giving, foundation grants, government contracts, and bequests. Crum emphasizes that pursuit of grant funding tends to be pursuit of a mirage. Thousands of shelters compete for the limited available grant money, offed by relatively few sources. Further, grants––and bequests––may come with restrictions on how the funds are spent.
If you are a professional fundraiser, An Animal Shelter’s Guide to Fundraising may or may not add to your body of knowledge. However, if you lack fundraising expertise, I recommend it. Crum compares a fundraising plan to a GPS system. A plan, like a GPS, helps you to reach your destination. A shelter must have a plan to operate effectively. He then lays out the importance of a mission statement. Every shelter needs a mission statement. That tells donors who you are, what you do, what makes you special, and why they should write you a check as opposed to supporting another organization. Crum discusses the accountability requirements that apply to charities, how to set and achieve goals, and the value of sending thank you notes for donations. Crum also provides exercises to help readers understand how to build a donor base, since donors drop off each year. To stay vibrant, a shelter must replace those donors, especially large donors.
Animal shelters cannot stay in the business of saving animals without money. Fundraising may not seem as meaningful to most shelter personnel as saving a stray dog’s life but a shelter cannot survive without a dedicated, proficient fundraiser, whether paid or volunteer. Crum’s book has a lot of worthwhile ideas. Give it a read.