Most people in the UK love dogs – or at the very least would not wish any harm to come to them. But the sad fact is that there are still plenty of people out there who neglect, abuse or abandon their pets or abuse dogs they find in the street. There are also people who love their dogs very much but just can’t afford the time or the money to look after them properly.
For those unfortunate animals the RSPCA is there to help. It is probably the UK’s best-known animal charity and it relies solely on donations made by the public to carry out its vital work. Most of its workforce is made up of volunteers who give up their time for free to help to care for the animals in shelters or to raise funds for the charity.
Yet the RSPCA is not without its critics and some people may be put off from donating money to the organisation for fear that it will be used in some way that they do not approve of. Many people say that giving money to a large charity is pointless because it just ‘disappears’ and gets used for advertising campaigns, or on legal fees, or on executives’ pay.
The RSPCA seems to have recognised that this is an issue for many of their donors and has come up with a pretty ingenious plan to encourage people to continue making donations. Called RSPCA Choices, their new fundraising idea centres around the fact that people seem to be most passionate about causes that they can see, or know about through first-hand experience. The RSPCA has many local causes under its national charity’s umbrella of care.
Potential fundraisers can go online to the RSPCA Choices site and search for specific projects that really mean something to them. You can search under location or type of project (from rehoming animals to paying for some of the professional help that the RSPCA relies on, such as vets and inspectors) and set up a fundraising page explaining exactly which project you want to raise money for and how you are going to do it.
For example here in the North East of England there is the Felledge Animal Centre, which cares for sick and injured animals and aims to rehome as many as possible. RSPCA Choices gives you the opportunity to raise money towards the costs of running the centre for a month, to help to keep the centre open and able to cope with the ever-increasing demands placed on it.
The animals at Felledge often need costly veterinary care as well as the usual home comforts such as warmth, shelter and food. They also need routine treatments for worms and fleas, vaccinations and microchipping – all of which costs money. Some of the animals also need behaviour therapy to maximise their chances of being rehomed, and all need potential adoptive owners to be carefully checked to make sure they can provide a ‘forever’ home.
RSPCA Choices has set a target of £24,353 to cover one month’s worth of the costs of running Felledge. That might seem like an impossible amount – but remember that individual fundraisers like you could work as a team with other fundraisers, each doing what you can to raise those vital funds.
I think it’s a great idea – to set targets and allow you to see exactly where your hard-earned money is going and what it is being used for. It also makes it a lot easier for fundraisers to convince others to support them in their efforts, by being able to speak passionately about a cause they really believe in, rather than just asking for donations for a large, national charity. The targets may be on the high side but no-one expects a single fundraiser to achieve the full amount – every penny counts and every pound will be used to help those animals who have been given a second chance at a happy life at Felledge.