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If you started or run a GSD rescue, would you do it again, knowing what you now know about fundraising, paperwork, and time commitment? Any advice for someone starting one? (e.g., "Don't!" :eek:)

My shelter volunteer buddy and I are at a point that we feel like it's time to think about forming a 501c3 to be able to fundraise. There are also changes on the horizon at the shelter suggesting we will eventually need some independence to have more control over dogs, medical care, and adoptions. After over a year of doing this at the shelter, it was probably inevitable that we'd have to form a rescue, and we're about at that point.

I'm risk averse by nature (my professional background makes me so), so I've resisted people locally telling me I should do this for about a year. I felt like I was learning as I went along fostering and volunteering at the shelter, and forming community relationships.

There is no GSD rescue in my city. The closest one, in the next city over, does not pull from this area, and is a tiny operation. As shelter volunteers, if we were a GSR, last year we'd have been the biggest in the state. For 2013, we've already had 24 GSDs placed plus 10 more of our "Shepherd Friends" (mixes we helped find homes)--and we have a bunch of fosters currently.

We have essentially become a pretty well-organized volunteer quasi-breed rescue operating from inside of the shelter. Our website is generating traffic and inquiries, our FB page is too, adopters are posting photos of dogs there that are happy and healthy, we're getting invited by local event organizers to bring foster dogs for adoption events...like a rescue. We're personally funding medical care sometimes for GSD shelter dogs we're advocating for (if one needs x-rays, I pay the clinic's bill; if one needs Doxy, I often pay the RX cost; if one needs bloodwork....). We're recruiting more foster homes, volunteers for adoption events, doing home checks, reference checks, and vet checks....all for the GSD shelter dogs. We're even training other volunteers to copy our structure for other breeds at the shelter.

We've figured out what we do well (evaluating, caring for, and placing adopable GSDs from one shelter where we have a great relationship). And we're avoiding things we don't do well (helping dogs in far away places). Doing this has allowed us to get our busy, open-intake, poorly funded public shelter to "no kill" status for this one breed (it was an 80% kill rate for all breeds just a few years ago...). It's the best statistic in the whole shelter.

Forming a corporation and doing the paperwork of to get 501c3 status is something I can do myself--it's not daunting to me. We'd have a new tax/accounting paperwork burden that will be annoying, but manageable. Mr. Magwart and I work full-time, but we're pretty good time managers.

We also have volunteers willing to help with fundraising, and a good trainer who donates time and classes.

My thought is that after forming a rescue, we will actually continue fostering for the shelter, and adopting out for the shelter, until there's a big enough "rescue fundraising cushion" to handle substantial vet bills and the cost of insurance -- in other words, all that changes at first is fundraising starts. No dogs will be "pulled," and there will be no rescue "operation" until the money's there. We know that even at the super-low-cost vetting places that help rescues, we'll easily have over $100 in a dog at the blink of an eye. And that's just if they're healthy, and they almost never are. Insurance will also likely run around $2,000/yr.

If you are part of a good, experienced rescue organization, tell me what else I need to be thinking about and worrying about before making this decision?
 
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