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Your Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Nonprofit Rescue

Adopt, don’t shop. We’ve all heard it before, and there are countless resources available when it comes to adopting rescue animals. But what if you want to go above and beyond and open a rescue shelter of your own?

Unfortunately, running an animal shelter doesn’t mean snuggling puppies and kittens 24/7. There are a lot of nitty-gritty details you’ll have to consider to give your shelter animals the best possible care.

Location and Naming

Finding the perfect location to open your nonprofit animal rescue may prove to be a challenge. The most important thing to keep in mind when scouting possible locations is whether your building meets animal zoning regulations. Zoning laws tend to vary by state, so contact your local zoning or urban planning department for more conclusive information.

Aside from finding the perfect location to open your rescue, you also need to find the perfect name. You want your shelter name to clearly describe what services you are offering. For instance, a name like that of the Animal Protective League clearly states their purpose and mission without being too wordy or complicated.

Gain Experience

Opening and running a successful animal rescue center is not something you want to casually dive into. The best way to gain experience is by working or volunteering in a shelter first. This way, you’ll get to see what works and what doesn’t without wasting your own time and money on fruitless trial runs. Pay close attention to the services they offer and pay to utilize. Are you going to provide temporary housing for animals during an emergency? What types of health services will you provide for animals new to your shelter?

Running your shelter in the most cost-effective way possible is obviously important, especially for a nonprofit likely running on donations and fundraising.

However, you may want to invest in certain areas, like residential pet waste removal. A service like this will allow you to maintain a clean, healthy environment for the animals as well as you employees and volunteers. Turning to a specialized service will save you valuable time and ensure the job is done thoroughly.

Reach Out

One of the most difficult aspects of running a successful nonprofit animal rescue center is receiving adequate backing and support from your community. When looking for ways to reach out and inform those around you. When it comes to spreading information about your rescue, social media is your best friend. Try to keep your social media as interactive as possible, with regular updates, photos, and videos of the animals at the shelter.

Social media is a great resource for regular updates and interaction with community members, but for more important notices and event reminders, you may want to make use of p2p texting, more commonly known as Peer to Peer texting. You’re probably familiar with this type of messaging from receiving political messages or voting reminders. Not only is p2p texting a great way to reach out and notify pet owners, donors, or anyone else who’d like to join your contact list about newsletters, policy updates, upcoming fundraisers, or ways you’re improving the quality of your rescue shelter, but they can respond to your message with input or to request further information in a private and personal setting.

Ultimately, following all of these steps will help you gain invaluable experience before launching your own nonprofit, but this will also help you meet other people in the nonprofit biz, like veterinarians, potential donors, and even attorneys to ensure the launch of your nonprofit goes as smoothly as possible.

Opening a nonprofit animal shelter is no small task, but if you take advantage of the steps we’ve talked about, you’ll be well on your way to providing a safe haven for everyone’s favorite furry friends.

Jennifer Holland

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