MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT:
For anyone that has served on a non-profit board you would be familiar with the scenario:
Revenues are down, donations are smaller and restricted, and costs continue to rise.
The economy is far from recovered and non-profits are not able to rebound like their profit sectors.
Growing top line revenues and holding it steady is difficult. Charitable giving has dropped off in early 2008-09.
The minute a board starts to see a financial downturn it has to take immediate action to solve the problem. It is easy for boards to let inertia take over and not actively manage but doing so means imminent closure.
With people just getting over a hard winter and the holiday season, donations tend to drop off, as is the norm. Also, the economy has still not rebounded to what it once was in 2007.
This board manages the shelter like a business. We ensure that there is solid financial reporting and metrics to measure success.
We have the good sense to admit there is a problem and not put off dealing with financial distress-transparency is important.
We need to know where our duties lie. The board of a non-profit owes its primary duty to the organizations mission and that is the primary focus being able to provide shelter for orphaned animals and provide programs for their adoption.
MISSION: Our mission is to prevent animal cruelty and abandonment by promoting responsible, caring and compassionate attitudes towards animals.
We ensure shelter for orphaned animals and provide programs for their adoption. We promote responsible ownership through public education and enforcement of legislation. We reduce unwanted pet population by advocating the neutering of companion animals.
When you look deeply at your mission, it helps make key decisions.
We had to cut costs in several ways through reducing our biggest costs, that being labor, addressing heating cost escalations and mortgage payments. In addition, we are working closely with our suppliers to ensure that we are getting the best pricing available, reducing the hours of the shelter for the next 6 weeks to ensure that the public are coming in during our peak times to adopt.
Our volunteers are still able to come in throughout the week as usual.
We are having an energy audit done to look at where we can address certain areas. The heat and lighting bill of $3500 for the past month while high but realistically we, like a hospital must keep out pets warm 24/7 and we will not compromise their care.
We have met with HBL (Hickey Bros. Ltd.) to see if there is an option in cutting the payments down from $6500 a month for a short while to get a better cash flow. Hopefully, they will be amendable to some options that will ease our burden.
In addition to that we are looking at the utilization of the entire space on the site for additional revenue.
We are continuing to manage donated funds appropriately. Restricted donations are not used for general operating expenses.
It is a delicate balance when financial trends drop quickly and you have to adjust to get your revenues up rather than just asking for money time and time again.
Accomplishments in the past 6 months.
As you know the call for an appeal came in September and $180,000 was raised which paid off all of our bills and we worked hard at fundraising and this helped us pay down our mortgage from $750,000 to $623,000.
The Taylor Avenue property has an offer on the table which should close soon pending zoning approval.
We are getting there in hopes that within the next few months once we are operationally sustainable, we can focus on a building campaign to pay down our mortgage.
We have changed for the better. We have adopted a low kill model for our shelter.
We do not experience the high veterinary costs. We partake in the Chip In program on Facebook when we need an expensive surgery covered for a pet and this has been a phenomenal way to cover these costs.
Our home is 295 Bayside and that is where we live today. Did we need to come here? There is no point in criticizing or driving a car looking in the rear view mirror at practices that occurred in the past. When the prior board members were given notice on Taylor Avenue, they reacted. When faced with well over a million dollar price tag of building brand new on the former Peacock site versus buying for $750,000, they selected this site, a solid two story structure with outbuildings and three acres. They did what they thought was best.
Has it impacted us? Not as much as paying for a brand new property in a flat economy. I wonder if they still would have been here today or struggling to raise the money to pay for it. The animals are not as sick, the public for the most part love it. It has been a year and to just pick up and go like a Barnum Bailey Circus into another location is not easy when you are facing zoning approvals and the high costs of building brand new today.
Is it hard work? You bet it is. Do we need more volunteers with business acumen and donated services, you know that we do and thank you for those that are already with us. Volunteers and their services are a non-profits lifeblood!
This new board has been in reactive mode since we took over. There will be light at the end of the tunnel soon. Hard decisions have been made. We are on the right track and will not get derailed.
Another great source of revenue that we are focusing on are the dog licenses. It costs so little, only $10 for a spayed/neutered dog and $25 one that isn’t. Of that there are 12,250 households (17k dogs in city limits), which has a potential if everyone renewed their license and got one for their dog of making $171,000
It is your Dogs Ticket Home if lost and it also helps to keep the roof over our shelter pets’ heads! – Drop in today to get yours.
We have made significant strides despite the shark-infested waters but we do have an ARK full of animals that we must care for and we will not step away from our mission.
It is through our supporters that have always been there and continue to be that will give us a future for the next 100 years.
In an effort to better serve pet owners, citizens and of course the animals in Saint John we ask that you take a few minutes of your time to complete our survey on the purchase and use of dog licenses. The survey will take less than 5 minutes and your input will help us better meet the needs of all. Thank you for your time.
Click HERE to complete the survey.