Insurance can be one of the most expensive aspects of business from animal welfare organizations. Many go without the coverage they need because they are facing budget cuts or need the funding they do have for other needs, such as animal shelters for all their critters. The team members at AWOIP, LLC (Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program, LLC), are the go-to folks when it comes to securing insurance for animal shelters. Some types of insurance policies that they can offer are:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Volunteer Accident & Health Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Commercial Property Insurance
  • Special Event/ Fundraiser Insurance

But to have insurance for the shelters your organization uses, you need to be able to afford those shelters. When funding and donations do not cover these expenses, there is another way you can get the money you need. Grants for animal shelters are abundant, if you know where to look and how to go about getting them.

Many big name environmental organizations and animal welfare groups offer grants and funding help for other smaller groups who are struggling to do the same work. You could look at any local groups that are doing a similar work and see if you could form a partnership with them. They can provide the help you need and offer a unique perspective and they might also be able to recommend places you can look for grants for animal shelters and people you can talk to get some more funding.

State and federal organizations offer grants for any number of things. Chances are you can find grants for animal shelters simply by looking online. You might also want to search based on the type of facility you are. Some grants for animal shelters are base don the type of animals you work with so you could possibly find a grant that fits you perfectly and not have a lot of other competition for the money.

Another option you have is to reach out to people whom you know support the work you are doing. Many well known actors, celebrities, and iconic individuals support animal welfare. It does not hurt to reach out to these individuals and see if they might be willing to help you with the funding you need. Grants for animal shelters can be found, it just takes a unique approach and new way of looking at it.

The best place to find members for your new Board of Directors is among your founders.  Anyone who helped you find a location, secure funding, or helped with marketing campaigns deserves first consideration for the Board .  These high-level volunteer best understand your animal welfare non-profit and how it runs.  They are the obvious first choices for the Board.

However, after being involved with funding and the initial set-up, many may feel burned out prefer to continue their work on lower-level volunteer duties or only as-needed.  This is understandable as a Board of Directors position is often very involved.

Consider recruiting your Board among the most dedicated volunteers who performed the grunt work—making calls, cleaning cages, etc.  They will likely be surprised and flattered that you thought them qualified.  Also, as they were not as involved in the founding activities of your organization, they may also see the opportunity as a promotion as opposed to an endless series of demands.

Many people who are qualified for the Board of Directors may not realize their own qualities.  If someone appears to be a good match for the Board, ask and explain what you believe they bring to the table.  Feeling flattered, he or she may just say yes!

It is good to have your Board be a mix of higher level and workhorse level volunteers.  This will make for a rounded membership which enhances the growth of your organization.

Directors and officers who work for an animal shelter must have a unique skill set. There are many shelters that have suffered from the effects of poor leadership simply because the director had insufficient experience with animals. This not only results in poor leadership, but also gives the shelter a poor public image.

One of the most important qualities to look for in a shelter director is proven experience with animals. The ideal candidate should currently own or have owned animals in the past. Having a pet of your own provides experience that simple secondhand experience does not. When a job candidate has worked in a veterinary, kennel or shelter position in the past, this increases their level of credibility.

In addition to proven experience working with animals, a good director will also have excellent management skills. A college background in management or experience running a business will provide many of the needed skills for this sort of position. Former non-profit group directors and employees will make the easiest transition into this sort of job.

Directors and officers who work for a shelter will also need to posses certain skills that are essential for good public relations. A person in this position will have to interact with the public, as well as field questions from local reporters. It’s necessary for shelter staff to be able to patiently address any questions that members of the public may have.

Fundraising experience is an important part of managing an animal shelter. Because non-profit shelters depend on private donations and grants, it is essential to know how to keep a reasonable cash flow coming in. Job candidates who have a sense of creativity will do very well in this line of work.

Being comfortable with using the Internet, particularly social media, is another important skill to look for. A shelter director will need to perform many clerical tasks as part of their job. However, maintaining an updated website and interacting with the public and other shelters via social media is a vital part of running a successful shelter that many people overlook.

The hard economic times has made it necessary for need of business to increase the directors and officers insurance. The liability insurance can help protect them from losses incurred through wrong accusations. If you are in animal welfare organizations it is important to be covered by this insurance policy. Experts in this kind of insurance are able to understand the exposure you are put through each day and how they can provide protection to shield you. You will be openly shown the insurance consideration and risks that volunteering or being the directors or officers will expose you to.

It makes you aware of your legal responsibility either as a volunteer or officer and consider how you are insured so to be protected sufficiently. It is important to be aware of all the risks that come with being animal handlers. As a volunteer or officer you will be responsible for injuries or damages that are either caused by the animal or you. With the liability insurance you can protect yourself against these risks. Whether the claim will be honored when submitted will depend on the terms and conditions.

It is important you consult your insurance provider to discuss the insurance that is right for you and the forms that you will have to fill out. Pet business can be faced with so many claims and blames and the directors and officers insurance has been developed in a way owners can sleep easy and have better insurance for their business. The packages are different but they will cover you in relation to issues that arise from handling the animals.

Your equipment and tools are also covered by the insurance policy as a result of damage or loss as result of a storm, malicious damage, riots, explosions and fires among many others. Professional indemnity can be extended to cover liabilities that have been incurred by any of the employees and volunteers. The directors and officers liability insurance is evolving from just covering the two groups of people. It can now cover also acts that have been committed by your volunteers, employees and trustees. It is important that the needs you need to be covered are discussed in advance so as to know the options available.

There are a lot of questions that you probably have when shopping for insurance.  What type of insurance do I need?  Why do I need insurance?  Will I need it if I am extra careful?  Even more specific, each policy can have their own questions.  Below are the most commonly asked questions regarding Directors and Officers (D&O)  insurance with answers.

  1. Why does my organization need D&O coverage?  Organization are composed of board members.  These members are at risk if a lawsuit arises against the organization.  If there is a misappropriation of funds, the board member will be protected from losing their personal assets.
  2. What does D&O cover? It covers the directors and officers of the organization against lawsuits that may arise. 
  3. Isn’t it expensive? No, it is quite affordable.  Depending on the details of your organization it can be as low as $500.
  4. How do I obtain D&O insurance?  Just give us a call, or submit a quote request through the website.

Non-Profit animal shelters and rescues are at risk for lawsuits.  It is critical for your organization to be properly protected and insured in the event a lawsuit occurs.  One way to do that is to audit your insurance policies what do they really cover?  Yesterday we reviewed 2 types of coverage your shelter or rescue should have in place. Below you will find another list of important coverages:

Workers Compensation:  Most companies (nonprofit organizations included) are required to carry workers compensation insurance to protect their employees.  This insurance pays for medical bills, disability pay, and for third-party liability in case someone has been affected by the employee’s loss. Volunteers can usually be covered by simply extending your policy.

Business Auto Liability: Does your animal shelter use vehicles to transport rescue animals? If you do then your organization is at risk and should consider business auto liability insurance. Liability for non-owned vehicles is important if your employees or volunteers use their cars to do work for your organization. If you have a small business, a personal auto policy may be best for you because it offers additional coverage to existing personal insurance to cover limited business needs. Personal vehicles can be covered by hired and non-owned coverage if the volunteers and staff use their own vehicle for business work.

Directors and Officers: (D&O) insurance covers the accidental actions of board members that can result in liability. These disputes are usually between the executive director and the board of directors, so it is important that small business is covered by D&O insurance as well. Allegations of improper financial oversight, harassment, or discrimination are also covered by D&O as long as the organization actions are legal.

Umbrella liability:  insurance expands the liability limits of your general liability, workers compensation, commercial auto policy, and directors and officers. The additional coverage is usually purchased in $1 million layers, and this additional coverage is often a great value. By adding just a small amount to your premium you can double or coverage, or more.