A look at what it takes to make our mission possible Pets on Wheels exists because of everyone who helps. Each person who gives to our organization – time, energy, work, financial support – is part of our success. But while Pets on Wheels delivers visits through our volunteer therapy pet teams, but we’re not just a volunteer organization, and we need to develop not only volunteers and facilities, but funding sources, to make our visits happen.
That can be confusing — why does an organization that relies primarily on volunteers need to raise funds? It’s a great question, so we wanted to take a few moments to give you a look at what it takes behind the visits to make our mission possible.
The funding needs for PoW are costs for insurance, recruitment, screening, coordination, management, marketing and administration, and the vast bulk of our costs are related to program delivery. Our staff is budgeted for 8 total positions for FY2018, all part-time only: executive director; 6 local area coordinators (currently 2 of those positions are not filled due to resources, and one is only half-filled), and one webmaster/database manager.
Our staff’s total hours for everyone combined are contracted at 250 per month. The reality is that all of our staff goes above and beyond, just like our volunteers do.
We have direct costs for phones, computers, web hosting, screening facilities, insurance, supplies, storage, merchandise, postage, printing and more. The biggest cost for Pets on Wheels, though, is time. Although something may only take fifteen minutes to take care of, those minutes add up – especially when you realize we have over 500 active volunteers & VWPs, 400 facilities and events, administrative responsibilities, federal and state business reporting requirements and more to manage.
We may have been able to be a volunteer-run organization many years ago, but our success today means that the work is more demanding and requires professional staff to ensure accountability and a reasonable response time. Below are the main tasks that our program, with our budget information in the summary. Each week may not require that we work on each task, but we’ve averaged the work out to give you a sense of Pets on Wheels behind the scenes.
While some people just fill out the online application and follow the steps, most people first want to talk with someone about the program.
Health Certificates 20 hrs/month: We manage health certificates for over 400 volunteers and more than 100 applicants annually.
Screenings 50-60 hrs/month: From background checks to testing and recording information, plus printing materials, securing sites and more, screening and onboarding takes the most time.
Volunteer Support 40 hrs/month: Sometimes a volunteer has a concern with their facility; people need to take a leave of absence; someone may get locked out of their accounts and can’t log their hours; there may be questions about an event and some great ideas for the organization.
Volunteer Acknowledgement 20 hrs/month: From our picnic to our winter party to regional outings and our Presidential Service Awards, we love to develop ways to acknowledge and thank our volunteers.
Facility Registrations 12 hrs/month: Managing new facility entries takes time for registration and enrollment issues.
Facility Coordinators 8 hrs/month: Finding and logging each facility’s coordinator doesn’t take long, but multiply it by 400 and it adds up.
Facility Development & Management 40 hrs/month: One of the tasks we all wish we had more time for is facility development; sadly it’s an area that often gets skipped due to the reality of our resources.
Events 20 hrs/month: Events are fun, but each one takes another chunk of time to process.
Business Reporting 12 hrs/month: We have local, state and federal forms and requirements.
Program Support 12 hrs/month: Everything from providing proof of insurance for events and activities to picking up mail and making sure the printer has ink to produce certificates.
Communications 40 hrs/month: Emails, website updates and social media all take time.
Marketing 8 hrs/month: Media relations, interviews, writing articles, doing presentations and more should take 40 hours a month, but we are not able to focus on this area due to resources.
Staffing 20 hrs/month: Recruiting, developing and managing our paid and volunteer staff and board.
Fundraising 60 hrs/month: Finding, developing and securing funding for any organization of our size should be a full time job in itself. We also seek, apply for and report out on grant opportunities.
As you can see, even though we’re very lean, it takes a whole lot of time, effort and money to make our organization run. It only happens now because so many people give generously above and beyond their defined responsibilities, and because every one of us associated with our organization cares so much. We’d love to explore adding new opportunities, but that will require a greater investment to grow.
Our annual budget goal currently is $125,000 – much less than $1 per person that we touch through all of your visits. We are actually coming in significantly under that for this year. We manage over 500 volunteers and nearly 400 facilities and events each year with 8 part time only staff.
In comparison, Paws for People in Delaware has 400 volunteers, 10 staff, most of whom are full time, visits just 160 facilities each year and has an annual budget of over $500,000. We see no reason for a budget that large, but it does provide a benchmark.
We hope this helps answer some of the questions you may have had about our operation, and we hope that you will continue to support us as generously as you can so that we can continue to thrive, and even grow, into the future.
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Pets on Wheels brings the joy of friendly pet therapy to people all over the state of Maryland. Regularly visiting nursing homes and hospitals to assisted living facilities, homeless and domestic violence shelters, veterans’ hospitals, libraries, schools, colleges, corporate campuses and more, Pets on Wheels volunteers improve lives and help lick loneliness one visit at a time.