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|Why start an organization? Many people working individually to help cats are filling a gap in their community, providing an important and unique service. However, if you are one of these people, you may begin to want to improve the lives of more cats and increase your influence in the community. Starting your own organization to help outdoor cats is a demanding, but rewarding way to effect change at the local level on a greater scale.
Creating a safe place where individuals can come together under the umbrella of an organization will help you gain credibility in your community, reach out to and involve more people, and raise money to support your efforts—all with the goal of having a significant impact in helping more cats. The steps you take when starting an organization also help you create a clear plan to changing your community for the better.*
- Status. The formation of a local group enhances the status of the cats and your work.
- Support. Donations, community support, and media attention are more readily given to an organized group than to an individual.
- Hometown Pride. Many businesses and community newspapers like to support local causes, because that is where their customer base is.
- Government Responsiveness. Local government officials are more responsive to local residents and local organizations.
- Crisis Prevention and Response. In times of trouble, your organization’s supporters can band together to put pressure on local government bodies or others who threaten the well-being of the cats. It’s a lot easier and quicker to mobilize an existing network in a crisis than to try to create one.
- Moral Support. Solitary caregivers and the cats for which they care need a safety-net to be successful. Caregivers can enjoy the benefits of being able to call on others when they are in need of help.
- Success Breeds Success. Your program will help build a successful foundation that can be expanded to help even more people and cats and gain even more supporters.
- Acting Locally. It’s easier to motivate people to address a situation in their own community that they can see and experience. Time and money invested locally empowers people to get involved. It’s the principle “think globally, act locally” put into practice.
Begin by creating a clear understanding of what you seek to accomplish by starting an organization. Write a mission statement that will define every goal and action of your organization. Create goals for both the long-term and the short-term.
The next step is to ensure that any partners you have on board also understand your goals and agree with them. Beginning with a strong base and having clearly-defined goals will help you garner more supporters and help you raise funds later.
- SMALL BUSINESS MENTALITY
While this may be something you are trying to accomplish in your free time, treat your new organization as a small business. Planning, management, and fundraising are essential to the success or failure of your new group. It is important to plan on spending an equal amount of time on administrative aspects of your organization as you will on direct animal care, campaigns, and any of the other goals of your group.
No one person must, or even can, do everything. Most successful organizations are the product of teamwork, requiring the cooperation of people with varied skills and talents who share a dedication to the group’s purpose. One person’s interests and talents may lead him or her to spend time on direct animal care, while someone else will need to spend time on administrative tasks. Think about your various needs and the strengths of your partners as you plan.
Next Step: Do Your Research and Preliminary Planning
* This part of the website, Starting Your Own Organization to Help Cats, is adapted from the original “Starting a Nonprofit Organization to Help Animals” by Bonney Brown