I want to send out a big thank you to all of you who wrote in with ideas and feedback for the new rescue initiative I'm consulting on with the Humane Society of the United States. Also a shout out to those of you who just said "congratulations" and other nice things to me personally. I felt all warm and fuzzy ;-)
First, I'd like to clear up a small point of confusion. If you're getting this newsletter, you're either a free or paid member of NAPRP. If you paid money in the past, you can still access resources on the private areas of the Web site. If you didn't, you still get this newsletter.
You don't have to do anything special. But all of you on this email list will be among the first to know when the new free resources I'm developing with HSUS go online. We are starting out with a special online area just for rescues that's shaping up to have TONS of information. We're still in the early stages, but I think it's going to be great.
I also thought I'd share a few things I've learned about the resources and information you have said would help you most:
Funding: Many people mentioned difficulty finding funding resources for small, foster-based groups. I'm working to find information on specific grants, so we can share it with you. Today, in fact while surfing for something else, I found a release from the Pedigree foundation that they're revamping their Innovation grants, which focus on adoption. They specifically mention rescues! Check it out:
Standards of care, legal issues and regulations: At the HSUS EXPO, there was a lot of discussion about the "Five Freedoms" so rest assured that we'll be including a lot of resources on both the animal care and the business side of rescue. Over time, I've been asked countless times for resources on starting a rescue as well, so start up information with everything from incorporation to setting policies will be included. Some existing rescues are operating on the edge of financial (or other) disaster, so business planning, administration and management will also be covered.
Connections: Several people mentioned the idea of creating databases connecting volunteers, fosters, and other animal organizations. This task is daunting, but definitely on the radar. Just coming up with a database of rescue groups is tricky because many small groups tend to come and go, so contact information changes frequently. (If you have thoughts on how to manage this situation, let me know.)
Community: We also are talking about how we can create a sense of community. I'm really struggling with it because to be honest, I've tried a lot of things with NAPRP with only limited success. This newsletter is the most successful communication mechanism I've developed, but that's just one-way with me. Obviously, a newsletter doesn't let you interact with and learn from each other.
Realistically, I haven't seen much success in "community building" things like discussion boards or mailing lists anywhere in the last few years. Many email lists (listservs) and discussion groups are dead and gone or just moribund.
I'm curious what you've seen. Are people commenting on blogs instead? Doing Twitter chats? Facebook? (Personally, I see almost zero participation in 99% of Facebook pages.) Clearly, I'm not sure what would be best, so it's worth talking about. People in rescue (and elsewhere) often SAY they want more community and support, but I'm not sure where they find it. What do you think? What's working? What's not? If you have thoughts on any of this, again, please let me know.