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Starting a non-profit...advice?

bendyfoot
May 30th, 2007, 03:13 PM
Hi all,
just wondering if any of you small rescues/non profits (with official non-profit status) out there could share your experiences with getting started, especially in Canada:
- was the paperwork involved difficult?
- how long after application for non-profit status did it take to get approval?
- what were your most successful methods of fund raising and publicizing?

We're starting the JAIDA Fund, (Jaida's AId for Disabled Animals), right now just to raise funds to help other pets obtain medical treatments or mobility aids...but in the future (going to be a while, but it's a good dream), we'd like to start a rescue for pets with special needs (mobility, blind, deaf etc.)

Any advice or tales of your experiences would be useful!!

happycats
May 30th, 2007, 05:10 PM
I have no advise to offer, but just wanted to thank you so much for,for starting this rescue, your an:angel:.

SableCollie
May 30th, 2007, 05:23 PM
We got our non-profit status (501c3) years ago...I don't remember it being difficult, but then I wasn't directly involved. It was mostly just submitting forms and paperwork, I'm not sure if the process would be different in canada. We have to renew it every so often to maintain our non-profit status. Hopefully someone with more experience can give you more info.

Our biggest fundraiser is our annual fundraising dinner. We rent a hall (they give us a discount) and have it catered. We charge for tickets, and we ask local business and individuals to either donate something for our silent auction, or sponsor the event at $250. One of our volunteers plays the piano, the people get to eat a nice dinner and then bid on the auction items. It is tons of work to pull off, but it nets us over $20,000 each year. Our smaller fundraising methods include putting donation cans in local businesses (we get about $1,000-$2,000 a year from this, we have a volunteer who picks up the money from the cans weekly), we also do membership ($25 for individual, $40 for family, $12 for senior citizens), members get our newsletter which has updates about our organization and publishes 3 times a year (meaning I throw it together in microsoft word when I have free time!) we also have a lot of people who will ask that when they pass away, donations be sent to us in lieu of flowers. Sometimes local schools will do fundraising events for us too. We used to do yard sales and bake sales in the past, which are an easy way to make a few bucks.

For publicizing, we have occasional articles in the local papers, we have flyers up at pet supply stores and vets offices, and we rely a lot on word of mouth too.

If you have specific animals that need help through the fund, getting articles in local papers with pictures of the animals, and putting flyers up in various places really helps. We had a dog that needed major surgery and rehab that we couldn't afford. We did the newspaper/flyer thing and also put an article about him in our newsletter. We raised 3 times what the surgery cost, and we were able to keep the fund open to help other animals. We always mention in our newsletters that we are keeping the fund open for animals who need special medical care and we do still get donations to it. Hopefully your fund will be up and running soon! :fingerscr

marsupial mama
May 30th, 2007, 05:39 PM
what a brilliant idea!

I know very little, but I would imagine zoning may be a big issue, i.e., if you plan to have premises for the rescue, make sure you don;t run afoul of zoning laws. (I have seen religious community groups and private schools go down that particular path and have big hassles to get permission from the city after the fact; better to sort it out up front). Unless you plan to foster in people's homes which shouldn;t be a problem unless they live in places with rules and by-laws on numbers of pets.

Make friends with all the vets, lawyers and pet supply store owners you can in the meantime :thumbs up

And GOOD LUCK with this project!!