By Marnie Moss
We are often called upon as a convener – and sometimes, we see the need ourselves. This past year we offered to bring together a variety of animal welfare organizations to discuss volunteer management systems.
The idea started after receiving several requests from Animal Welfare organizations and meeting with a few to discuss needs. The Gifford Foundation recognized a common passion for animals and similar challenges throughout the groups. Though the organizations have unique ways of utilizing volunteers many struggled with finding a management system that worked. Funding each of these organization’s requests was not a possibility but with a strong belief in collaboration Gifford saw this as an opportunity.
Gifford engaged the consulting services of Maria Fibiger and Stefanie Higgins of Three Dog Consulting and invited several animal welfare organizations to join with us on this capacity building initiative. The cohort included the Humane Association of CNY, Helping Hounds Dog Rescue, Molly’s Wish, Spay and Neuter Syracuse (SANS), Hubbards Hounds Dog Rescue, CNY SPCA and Oswego County Humane Society. The consultants met individually with the organizations and brought the cohort together several times over the course of a few months to work on building their volunteer programs. It was also a great opportunity for peer learning and networking.
Maria and Stephanie worked closely with the participants on developing a volunteer budget, working on communication and leadership, setting volunteer roles, recruiting, screening, training, safety, and developing scheduling procedures. Each organization was able to walk away with results through Gifford grants ranging from $250 to $1900:
• Helping Hounds used their funding to create a handbook for volunteers, attend two Humane Education Courses through Humane Society of US (HSUS) Academy and purchase VicTouch Volunteer Software.
• The Humane Society of CNY printed and distributed new volunteer policies and procedures.
• Molly’s Wish created print outs of their volunteer job descriptions to serve as outreach recruitment handouts.
• Hubbard’s Hounds Dog Rescue developed volunteer recruitment and outreach materials.
• Spay and Neuter of Syracuse (SANS) printed new color brochures for volunteer recruitment and general SANS outreach.
• The CNY SPCA utilized their funding for the printing and copying of new volunteer handbooks and job descriptions and to purchase a white board.
• Oswego County Humane Society was able to copy new Volunteer and Foster Handbooks and outreach materials for the Home Recruitment Drive Event.
Through this process Gifford was given a great opportunity to see that bringing similar groups together can offer them a chance build their capacity, reflect and grow. It also reminded Gifford that small grants have the potential to create a larger impact. We are grateful that the organizations devoted time to the process and honestly shared their needs and expectations.