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Nonprofit Education

How to Start & Run an Animal Rescue Nonprofit

Four dogs on a leash in a public park

There’s no shortage of cats, dogs, and other furry friends that need our help everyday in this country. Animal rescues give shelter to stray pets, free pets from abuse, care for the sick and wounded, and place pets into forever homes. If you have a passion to help animals in need, then starting and running an animal rescue nonprofit organization may be a satisfying way to give back to the community, and even provide yourself with income. We’re going to give you the rundown of what’s involved in operating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit for animal rescue, and what it takes to make it successful.

Write a Plan and Mission Statement

Starting an animal rescue is similar to starting a business. It will be run like a business, and it will succeed or fail as a business. All businesses need a written strategic business plan and a mission statement. Your plan will map out things like startup costs, ongoing costs, details about your physical facility, who your target market is, how you plan to make money, your business name, and other important details that will help you fulfill your mission statement.

Create a Board of Directors

When researching how to start an animal rescue nonprofit, you’ll see that a board of directors, not an owner, is responsible for running any nonprofit organization. A board of directors steers the functions of the organization, and oversees the ongoing financials and ethical well-being of the nonprofit. They can also have other roles within the animal rescue and work alongside the executive director and staff members. When choosing your board members, look for people with different skills that will work well as a team. Some valuable skills to consider might be legal, accounting, veterinary, public relations, and business skills.

File for 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status

Before you start an animal rescue that accepts charitable donations, you must obtain 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS to comply with state laws. People who donate money to your organization can also claim tax deductions, which encourages larger gifts. You will also want to incorporate your business to limit personal liability. To file the correct paperwork with the IRS, you will need your legal business name and set bylaws that govern your organization.

Getting Help Along the Way

All that we’ve mentioned so far, like writing a business plan, incorporating, and filing for 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status, can be daunting tasks. You know your heart is in the right place and you have the skills to care for animals in need, but starting and running an animal rescue nonprofit organization can be over any one person’s head. This is where getting help from an experienced team of professionals can mean the difference in realizing your dream. At BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions, we can help you with all of the startup aspects of a nonprofit, including creating the digital face of your rescue — its website and logos.

Establish a Budget and Bookkeeping

Accounting and bookkeeping is essential when starting and running an animal rescue nonprofit organization. You need an efficient way to document all income, donations, expenses, and payroll for your organization. If you don’t have accounting skills, it’s best to hire an expert. BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions can also provide you with bookkeeping services that will help you comply with state laws, and even give you guidance on how to set your budget for the upcoming year.

Gain Support in Your Community

There are fees associated with nonprofit startups, so you may be wondering how to start an animal rescue nonprofit with limited resources. Fundraising and corporate sponsorships are common ways that nonprofits gain money to run their organization. This means getting your name out there with advertising and public events. Gaining volunteer members will also help provide your organization with needed staff resources that will better equip you to take care of animals, and help spread the word in your community. 

Nonprofits also utilize grant writing to gain monetary support. BryteBridge Nonprofit can help you develop strategies for fundraise and find corporate sponsorships, as well as write grants, which can be a lengthy process on your own.  

A tan dog is sitting at a public pet event

Develop Other Ways to Earn Money

An animal rescue startup can also sell goods or services to earn money for the organization. For example, they may receive donations that can be sold to the public. Or, they might offer classes for a fee to the public that inform people about how to care for animals properly. Animal rescues also usually charge a fee for animals that are released to their care and adopted. Your board of directors can hold meetings to brainstorm ideas about how to raise money for your organization. A steady stream of income means you can provide quality care for the animals.

Make Changes to the Organization as Needed

Nonprofits and businesses that succeed are always looking for ways to improve how they run and the services they provide. Your organization should hold regular meetings to assess how financials and organization processes have progressed, and suggest changes for future improvement that will help you realize the mission statement

When learning how to start an animal rescue nonprofit, you will find that it is a lot of work, but has very rewarding results should your organization become successful. Many people have the compassion to care for animals in need, but few have the dedication required to fulfill all of the steps necessary to start an animal rescue. This is where BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions comes in. 

We have an entire team of dedicated professionals who are experienced in every aspect of starting a nonprofit, growing it, and maintaining it far into the future. We can help you with the nitty gritty technical and financial details, to fulfilling the big picture. Contact us today to learn more about all of the services we have to offer!