Many workers and businesses around the world have capitalized on the ability to work from home (WFH) and maintain operations virtually from their personal homes with an internet connection. This has led to a sharp rise in virtual meetings around the world and has changed how we meet as stay-at-home and social distancing orders are in effect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many non-profit organizations like yours have shifted focus towards social media to spread awareness and campaign for electronic donations from followers, friends, and more. One animal welfare organization has already started going viral in how they have capitalized on the rise in virtual meetings, and your organization may have an opportunity to do the same!

Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley, has marketed the opportunity for workers and corporations who are hosting virtual meetings to invite sanctuary animals in on video conferences and virtual meetings, with Llamas being the most requested meeting attendee. For a charge of $100, workers can request a Llama or other sanctuary animal, as well as a virtual tour, to be video-showcased in a virtual meeting, and that money goes towards funding for Sweet Farm Sanctuary. Guess what? They’ve had over 300 requests!

With this idea in mind, your organization can also jump in on the virtual meeting trend! No matter the size of your organization or the number of animals you have in your care, you can approach this idea from different angles. Here are a few recommendations we have come up with to help give you some ideas on how you can turn this idea into a reality for your organization:

Equine, Exotic, Farm rescues and sanctuaries:

  • Think of the type of animals you have in your care and in your facility. Do you have exotic, wild, or other unique animals? Market those animals on social media, and advertise to followers, friends, and even businesses you know that are utilizing virtual meetings. Market the opportunity for them to get a chance to see some of these animals in their next corporate or personal meeting (hint: Exotics and tigers are BIG talk right now!). Equine and Farm sanctuaries, perhaps think Mr. Ed.
  • Host a virtual tour! Pick a date and decide what the tour will showcase and advertise it as a virtual event that others can sign up for and attend! You can set a specific donation amount as a sign-up fee and emphasize that the money collected from those who attend will be direct donations to the organization or ask attendees to consider donating an individual amount towards the organization. Utilize a popular virtual meeting platform like Zoom, Go-To-Meetings, Google Meet, or another known platform to host your virtual tour. We recommend limiting the tour to a specified number of available spots (between 15-20).
  • Create an electronic flyer that you can use to outline and advertise your campaign to others via email, social media, etc. Make sure to include a brief description of what you are doing and how it works, the animals you have that can be booked to attend a virtual meeting (or what will be seen on the virtual tour), the booking/donation amount for the animal/tour, and contact information for interested parties to book.
  • Want to give attendees the chance to ask specific questions or express topics of interest? Create an online survey to send out to parties that are booked for an animal attendee or tour prior to the virtual event that lets attendees ask questions or express what they are most interested to see/learn, and then cover those inquiries during the event. You can use SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create your survey!

Rescues, Shelters, TNR, Spay, Neuter, Vaccine Clinics

If your organization falls under this category, there is opportunity for you as well! You can also model your virtual meeting ideas after some of the previously listed ideas. However, here are some recommendations and ideas that may fit your organization more appropriately:

  • Do you have animals that are still up for adoption? Host a virtual adoption event! If you originally had a big adoption event planned for the year that was cancelled, or you are missing out on being able to host frequent adoption events that you normally have, adapt those events to online. You can utilize the virtual meeting platforms that were previously listed to host an event. It is also a good idea to limit the number of attendees (between 15-20). To help raise funds, consider charging a fixed sign-up amount and emphasize that the money goes as a donation directly to your organization, or encourage attendees to consider donating an individual contribution.

Once you and your organization have a plan and have worked out the details of how you want to go virtual with your animals/facility, it is important that you get the word out! Advertise it on social media, pass the idea around to friends and family, and share it with businesses that you know that may be hosting virtual meetings (hint: advertise your idea as a team building activity and as a great way to boost morale and get some smiles!). When the going gets tough, it’s time to go virtual!

These awesome tech applications are for you!

Whether you are working in a well-established, mid-size to large scale facility, or you are just starting out as a small scale animal welfare operation in your community, there is a wide array of digital resources you can take advantage of that can benefit your organization. Your time, resources, and care are crucial to what you do, and balancing these factors can be a challenge. However, there are many reputable technological resources you can utilize to boost your efficiency so you can focus on what matters most. Let’s explore some of these technologies and how they can help you, and we’ll even offer a few suggestions on which ones are worth looking into!

Animal Shelter Management Software (ASM)

If you haven’t already heard of ASM software, then you’ll be delighted to know that it’s a real thing! ASM software/applications are designed specifically for animal shelters, rescues and animal care organizations to help them be more effective and efficient in managing their animal records, resources, donations, volunteers, and more. Perhaps your organization already has such software, which is wonderful! However, technology is always improving, so it doesn’t hurt to evaluate your current software or applications and determine if it is time to search for something new. If you are new to the game or haven’t implemented such software into your organization just yet, then perhaps now is the time! Either way, there are multiple features and questions you should consider when searching for ASM software or applications. Here are some big ones to consider:

  • $ Price $
  • Provided technical support
  • Free trials/demos
  • User interface and ease of use
  • Foster tracking
  • Key features (volunteer management, applications, animal record management, etc.)
  • Data security and privacy
  • Number of users allowed
  • Mobile application/integration

One other important consideration to factor into your search for ASM software is if the software fits the size of your organization. If you are a small, home based foster program, or don’t have a physical location, then ASM software may not be a viable investment for you. Simple computer applications like Microsoft’s Office 365 Suite may be a better alternative in this case. On the other hand, if you are a mid-size to large scale organization with multiple people, animals, and records to keep track of then ASM software will serve you well! Capterra is a software search engine that has a list of the “best” or “top” rated ASM software programs that you can check out. A few good programs we recommend checking out are ShelterLuv, Animal Shelter Manager, and Shelter Pro.

Donation & Fundraising Tools

Although ASM software is great for helping manage your on-site animal care services and other aspects of your organization, it may lack some more specialized features when it comes to managing your resources like donations or fundraising. But don’t worry, there are some well-known donation and fundraising platforms that you can use to your advantage. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe have become an increasingly popular fundraising platform for nonprofits, personal campaigns, and more. Crowdfunding sites tend to be campaign or goal specific, which means that fundraising campaigns set up on these sites (like GoFundMe) are set to raise funds for a specific short-term goal or need, and are not made to be a permanent fundraising effort. For example, if you want to set up a campaign that asks for donations for a specific animal that has some outstanding vet bills, then crowdfunding is a more “targeted” approach to raising funds for that specific animal. However, it is not a long-term fundraising fix. For that, you need a more established and easily manageable donation system.

A lot of organizations utilize PayPal to send and receive donations. It is perhaps the most common and user-friendly money exchange/payment platform that integrates well with websites, bank accounts, and other applications for a seamless process. PayPal even offers discounted transaction rates for registered 501(c)(3) organizations and no hidden fees. However, one beneficial feature that PayPal lacks is the full management of donations. DonorBox is an amazing donation platform does a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to collecting and managing donations. From donor management, donation form creation, website and third-party software integration, and tons of other amazing features, DonorBox should be highly considered by rescues, shelters, sanctuaries, and animal welfare organizations of all kinds. What makes it even better is that it doesn’t charge a platform fee if your organization collects less than $1000 a month in donations. After that amount, there’s a 1.5% platform fee. Of course, there are the processing fees that come along with payment transactions, but nothing that will break the bank (you can view DonorBox’s transaction fees and rates on their website). To find out more, go check out their features page to see how DonorBox can help you optimize your donation management!

We want your animal welfare organization to be as efficient and successful as can be in carrying out your mission to save, care for, and love as many animals as possible, these technologies are meant to help you do just that. Give them a look and see what they can help you achieve for your organization!

Animal Welfare Organizations provide vital services to communities across the country, striving every day to make the world a better place for neglected animals. A mission they could not fulfill without the help and support of a dedicated team of volunteers and financial supporters. Even though they operate on a much smaller budget than larger corporations, their access to confidential information makes animal welfare organizations a prime target for cyber-criminals.

While it is natural to think that small animal welfare organizations would be at the bottom of these criminals’ target list, limited resources makes them more susceptible to an attack. One of the common cyber criminal activities that spiked in 2018 before beginning a slow decline is ransomware attacks.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is a type of malware that hackers use to infect a device or website and hold the information hostage. To regain access to their information, the victim has to pay a ransom for the cyber-criminal to release it.

The most common way for a cyber-criminal to infect computers with ransomware is by using a phishing scam. Phishing scams occur when these hackers send emails to volunteers or employees at the animal welfare organization. Unlike regular spam, these emails are disguised as being sent from somebody the individual should trust. The emails include attachments, and when the volunteer or employee opens the attachment, it releases the malware onto their computer.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Even though cyber-criminals seem to get smarter every day, there are some steps animal welfare organizations can take to minimize the threat of an attack.

  1. Always install updates on computers and software to prevent any “holes” in the program or device. Failing to install updates promptly makes it easier for cyber-criminals to hack into the system.
  2. Require any downloads or program installs to be approved by a designated IT volunteer or resource. This assures the wrong types of software (i.e., malware) are not downloaded by mistake.
  3. Install antivirus software that includes malware protection on all devices.
  4. Train volunteers on how to identify phishing scams.
  5. Create an acceptable use policy for the organization’s devices and require all volunteers to sign and acknowledge the expectations.
  6. Backup programs, files, and systems at least weekly to not lose any crucial information.

The best way to protect an animal welfare organization from the aftermath of a ransomware attack is to buy the right insurance now. Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program can help you find cyber liability insurance to protect your financial well-being.

Figuring out how to fundraise can be a stressful process. Should we do a 5k? Should we do a car wash? Do we just ask for donations on our website or Facebook page? There are so many ways that you can reach out to the community, but you need to find what is right for your organization. Sometimes with all the options it might seem like your head is spinning, but Amazon has simplified it all.

In this day and age, anything you can imagine can be done or sold on the internet. So why shouldn’t we all take advantage of that? The internet is used to buy whatever product that you need because it’s no hassle. Look for what you want, order it and have it delivered straight to your door, just like that! With the ease of shopping because of the worldwide web, why can’t donating to your favorite organization be that easy? With Amazon Smile it is!
So what is Amazon smile you ask? Well let me tell you:
At this point, most people know about Amazon, but did you know while you, your family,
your friends and pretty much anyone shopping can donate with just the click of a button? Smile will donate .5% of every purchase that is made while they are shopping as long as they have selected your organization. They just need to go to
smile.amazon.com using their regular account, and make sure that they have selected your business before they make their final purchase. Now that might not seem like a lot, but think of how many times people shop on amazon, it’s not a once in a while thing at all.

In order to be eligible you need to have a registered EIN number as well as be a 501(c)(3) in good standing. Your organization also must not be a private fundraiser. Once you meet
those requirements, a designated administrator from your business can then set you up
with an EFT account. Every quarter your donations will be put directly into the account that you provide, easy as that! Unfortunately, they are not able to do paper checks, they will only do it as a direct deposit. The minimum they will deposit into your account is 5.00, so make sure that you are spreading the word to all that you know, to shop Amazon Smile with your organizations name!
While you can, by word of mouth, tell your friends and family to make sure they are thinking of you when they shop, you can also post about it on any social media that you may have. You can make a Facebook post or you can put the link and information on your web page. If you still aren’t sure how you want to put this information out to the public, Amazon has your back! Once you sign on to your organizations account on amazon, you can go to their marketing tools area where they can guide you in the right direction, such as a social media banner.
Fundraising can be difficult, but Amazon Smile has made it easier for you to do so with thesetype of donations. All you have to do is post about it!

Pets: A Varying Palette

September 11, 2018

I’m sure that everyone at some point in their pet’s life have heard that human food is not good for your them. Though there are certain spices and foods that you should avoid, not all human food is actually bad for your pet companion!

Think about it this way, your cat and your dog, they eat foods that are enriched with chicken, turkey, beef, etc. Well aren’t those all foods that we as humans eat? Have you ever taken a look in your pet’s wet food and noticed veggies? How about looking at the back of the food bag and reading the ingredients. I bet that you will find some familiar foods, some of which might be some of your favorites!

Not only do your dogs and cats have a wide variety with in their food, so do some of the not so average pets such as pigs, birds and lizards to name a few. Just like Humans our companions also have quote the varying palette.

Lizards, dogs and birds are predominately carnivorous , but it doesn’t mean that they won’t eat those healthy fruits and veggies. For example Apples are a great snack ( sans the seeds ) for your furry AND scaly friends in moderation. They are high in fiber and low in fat making for a yummy change up for the pets that you love. Another fruit that is has a dual purpose is watermelon. Not only is this good for your pet but it will also help keep them hydrated seeing as it is mostly water based. Watermelon is packed with vitamins that help with muscle and nerve function.

Lets not leave those veggies out either! Carrots are a favorite of dogs, lizards and birds because of the crunch that comes with it. They also promote great eye and skin health. Sweet potato is a base that is used in several brands of treats, but can easily just be cut up and fed to your pet raw. This is also a nutrient rich treat, and much healthier than white potato.

Here are a list of safe fruits and veggies that you can give your pets in moderation:

Spinach                Green Beans      Pumpkin              Broccoli                Brussel Sprouts Apricot

Cabbage              Carrots                 Cucumber           Celery                   Apple                    Mango

Banana                                 Blueberries         Raspberries         Pear                       Cantaloupe         Watermelon

Here is a list that you should try and avoid:

Cherries               Grapes                 Raisins                  Lime                      Lemon                  Grapefruit

Persimmons     Onion                    Garlic                     Rhubarb               Mushrooms

When it comes to meat, you can never go wrong with added protein as a treat, or as an addition to meals every once in a while. What you want to look out for here is seasoning. You should never give your pet meat that has been seasoned. Most seasonings have adverse effects that could cause long term damage when ingested, so make sure you are paying attention! A great treat for any type of pet would actually be eggs! This is a tasty treat that has great benefits for your furry ( or scaly ) friends skin. This is generally something that you would not give your bird.

So next time you go to grab yourself a snack or cook dinner, go ahead and look what you are making and maybe surprise your pet with a new treat!

Fundraising 5k

August 24, 2018

Running a marathon, that sounds fun right? No I didn’t think so. But you know what sounds fun? A 5k! Whether you are walking or running, it’s something that you can do solo, with your family, with a group, even with your dog! In the past couple of years 5k’s have been making there way on to the scene being used as a great way to get people together to exercise for a cause. Who wouldn’t want to get fit while supporting their favorite organization?

Being in the animal field, such as running a sanctuary, or being a foster, you are relying a lot on the donations that come in from the general public. Sometimes you need to get creative to get the community involved, and what better way than by jumping in on the band wagon and hosting a 5k in honor of your facility. These types of events are also really great to get some face to face interaction with those who are potential supporters and make a more personal connection, not only with you the owner, but with the animals that they will be donating too.

5k walks or runs are great for the community because you can host a larger amount of people at one time. In a time where health is a big focus, these types of fundraising events give people motivation to get out and do something while supporting something they are passionate about. To make it even better you, could make the 5k dog friendly so that people can bring their best friend out and support his furry brothers and sisters.

Other local animal products can set up stands at the beginning of the race and a portion of their proceeds can be donated to you. This is also a great way to spread the word about local business that people might not realize is in their very own community.

This is also a great time to spotlight some of your furry friends that the walk is benefitting. If you are in the business of adoption, bring some of your adoptable. Who knows they might even find their furrever home, or at the least get someone to sponser them! If you are trying to raise funds for a santuary, or a facility that doesn’t adopt animals, and you just give them a safe haven, bring them out so they can show their appreciation!

Whats wonderful about events like this, and most other types of events, is that most of the policies that we at Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program write for our organizations will already have this covered. If they don’t they make it really easy to get the coverage so that it’s one less thing for you to worry about when you are putting on your 5k.

Fundraising is a tough thing to do , but when you can make it fun and interactive, people are more likely to come out and see what you are all about! Spread your love for your animals to other’s by walking it out for a cause.

Animal shelters and rescues have the weight of the helpless animal population on their shoulders.  They find ways and methods to accomplish their significant missions and visions with minimal funding and resources. Animal shelters and rescues rely heavily on the support of donors who provide needed items as well as financial donations.  The last thing they need to add to their daily worries is the risk of a cyber attack that compromises their donor’s confidential information. According to a recent study released by The Global State of Information Security, security incidents increased by 38% and theft of “hard” information rose by 56% in 2015 when compared to 2014.  With the threat of cyber attacks on the rise, it is a real concern for many nonprofit animal shelters and rescues. Implement a cyber security program to protect your donors and your animal shelter or rescue.

Here are eight items to include in your program:

  1. Backup your data. Create a backup of information stored on your computers and server daily. Hackers have the power to compromise your electronic information, making it inaccessible. A backup provides you with an up to date list of your donors and their contact information, simplifying the notification process (a little at least).
  2. Secure physical data. Store physical donor files and confidential information in a locked, fireproof filing cabinet. Allow access to this information on an as-needed basis.  The fewer hands that physically touch the files, the smaller chance they can be misplaced.
  3. Limit the information you collect. A great rule of thumb to implement immediately is “if you don’t need it, don’t ask for it.” The less data you collect from donors, the less information a hacker gains during a breach.
  4. Purge unneeded information. If you have years of donor information stored in a back room at your animal shelter or on discs, it may be time to purge it. Keep only information you need. Often times, older files are stored and forgotten about. Holding onto donor files and information increases your chance of suffering from a breach.
  5. Update computers and software. Update computers and software programs on a consistent basis. Companies release updates and patches to help protect their customers from data breaches.  If updates are left unattended, your risk for a breach increases.  If you are not technology savvy, hire a local IT company to help keep your system up to date and secure.
  6. Use encryption. Use a data or donor collection service that encrypts the information your donors enter. Encryption encodes the information making it only accessible by those authorized to view it.
  7. Train your volunteer staff. Volunteers are a significant help to animal shelters and rescues. They can also be a great risk.  If your volunteer team is not internet or computer intelligent, they may unknowingly download malware or spyware.  Educate them on what is an acceptable use of the organization’s computers and emails.  Make it mandatory that downloads are not acceptable and should be approved by the director.  Phishing schemes are a common hacker specialty. Train your team on these to protect your shelter or rescue.
  8. Purchase cyber liability insurance. Cyber liability insurance is beneficial if it is purchased prior to a cyber breach or theft.  Cyber liability insurance protects your nonprofit animal shelter at the time of the breach by paying defense and settlement costs. The best cyber insurance policies take care of the state required notifications, which can be a long and treacherous task.

Cyber breaches are a serious threat to nonprofits like animal shelters and rescues.  The unfortunate news is hackers are becoming more creative in their schemes, making it difficult for companies to keep information secure.  Implement a cyber security program outlined here to protect your nonprofit animal shelter or rescue.

 

Animal Shelters and rescues attend adoption events as exhibitors to help raise mission awareness and increase adoptions.  Events range from a small open house to a larger event with multiple animal shelters and rescues.  Deciding to attend an event comes with risks. Plan in advance to minimize these risks. Train your volunteer team on how their actions can help protect your animal shelter or rescue. Here are five things your animal shelter needs to know before attending a special event:

  1. Does the event align with your mission? Look at the mission or goal of the event.  Does their goal align with your mission? If the two do not align, the event is not in your best interest.  Attending an event that does not promote your mission, leaves you open to negative publicity or loss of a positive reputation.
  2. Read the contract. Most event organizers require you to comply with rules and an agreement to become an exhibitor. Make sure you read the contract or agreement to determine if you can meet these requirements. Common event guidelines include set-up and tear down times, proof of insurance, vaccine requirements for animals, and expectations for how you present yourself during the event. If you are unable to meet the requirements outlined in the agreement do not register as an exhibitor.  You risk a negative impact to your animal shelter or rescue if you attend and do not follow the guidelines.
  3. What can go wrong? Prior to attending an event, make a list of all the potential risks. Risks include animals getting loose, volunteers not showing, animals injuring attendees or volunteers.  Once you have a list of possibilities, create a proactive plan that identifies how you will minimize the potential for these.  For example, one significant risk is an animal jumping on an attendee and scratching that individual.  A plan to keep that from occurring includes making sure volunteers are assisting the attendees while talking to, petting and playing with the animals.
  4. Choose the right animals. Choosing the right animals to take is a key in minimizing the risk of injury to attendees. Your goal is to increase adoptions by attending the event.  Animals that have just recently entered your care may not be a good fit.  Choose animals that can handle social situations and interaction with strangers.  Animals that are skittish or easily scared have unpredictable behaviors and should remain at the shelter or in their foster home during events.
  5. Choose the right volunteer team. Volunteers who attend the event need to be knowledgeable of your animal shelter or rescue, your mission and how to present themselves during an event. If you choose to send new volunteers, make sure you pair them with an experienced volunteer that understands adoption event logistics and your expectations.

Adoption and special events are a powerful way to educate and involve your community with your shelter.  Follow these steps before attending an event to create a positive experience for all involved.

 

There are hundreds upon hundreds of animal shelters across the country. While big name animal shelters often get a great deal of notice, there are many shelters that continue to operate under the radar, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways for animal shelters to get noticed quickly, and we’ve collected 7 easy ways to do just that.
1. Use Social Media
Social media is a quick, easy and often free way to get your shelter noticed. Starting a Twitter feed and building a circle of followers can be great advertising for an animal shelter. Facebook and Instagram are great options, too.
2. Offer Promotions
Adoption promotions are a great way to boost adoption rates and garner attention for your animal shelter. Slashing adoption fees, offering special “dog days” and “cat days” can get the community off their couch and into the center.
3. Pick a Spokesdog
Several animal shelters have gained significant awareness by promoting their shelter with a spokesdog. An animal shelter in Milwaukee gained significant awareness by taking their spokesdog, Gracie, to iconic areas around the city and handing out informational packets to passersby.
4. Create Videos
YouTube is a great medium for animal shelters. Take videos of the day-to-day activities at the shelter. Social transparency is a huge theme in business in 2015, and It translates well to animal shelters, too. YouTube can also be integrated into Facebook and other social media sites with great ease.
5. Interact and Engage
Once you have your social media sites set, you’ll need to engage with your audiences. Ask questions, run “cutest pet” contests and offer interesting content. The goal is to get users to engage with your sites and share your content so you can garner more followers.
6. The Newspaper
While print media has largely fallen out of favor with many people, the medium is still a great place to advertise special animal shelter events. Many newspapers offer both print and digital ad campaigns.
7. Talk to the TV Stations
Local news stations often look for “feel good” segments, so keep in contact with producers. This can help you garner your 15 minutes of fame on local media outlets, which can lead to a huge influx of community member coming into the animal shelter.
Exposure can make or break an animal shelter. While many shelters operate with a limited budget, getting the name out there needn’t be

A newborn kitten that has been abandoned by its mother will need intervention to ensure he or she survives. Proper feeding is one of those critical interventions. Feeding a kitten can be hard work, but it also incredibly rewarding. We’ve laid out the 10 necessary steps of feeding a newborn kitten and exactly what yo’ll need to do it.
What You’ll Need:
• Kitten Milk Replacement Formula
• Kitten-sized bottles & nipples
• A warm towel
Feeding Instructions:
1. All materials should be sterilized before being used to feed a kitten. Experts suggest sterilizing kitten sized baby bottles and nipples (or syringes) in a boiling water bath for about five minutes. Allow them to cool completely before use.
2. Follow the directions on the KMR or emergency formula, for feeding size. It may be necessary to weigh the kitten prior to feeding to ensure it is getting the proper amount of formula. This can be done on a kitchen scale
3. To warm the formula, place the bottle in a hot water bath for a few minutes. Never microwave KMR, as this will cause pockets of hot and cold formula.
4. Before you being feeding, it is best to test the formula on your forearm, just as you would with a baby’s formula. It should feel warm, but not hot.
5. You also should test the nipple to ensure the flow is correct. The nipple should not drip when upside down. It should only drip when gentle pressure is applied.
6. Before you being feeding ensure the kitten is warm and comfortable. Some experts suggest wrapping the kitten in a towel or blanket before feeding.
7. To feed the kitchen place him prone on your lap with his head down. Place the bottle into his mouth, and allow the kitten to nurse. The nursing reflex should kick right in, however, stroking the top of the kitten’s head can help it along.
8. Just like a baby, kittens often need to be burped after feeding. Hold the kitten under the abdomen and lightly tap its back to stimulate a burp.
9. Once burped, the kitten will likely want to sleep, so place it in a warm area, and allow him or her to sleep uninterrupted.
10. Repeat the feedings ever 2 hours or so. For a newborn kitten. Generally, a kitten will require about 1.1 ounces of formula spread out over 9 to 12 feedings.