1. How would you describe your mission and vision?
Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter was established in 1990 to help the homeless pet population in the Southern Ocean County (NJ) area. At that time, we did not have any type of animal shelter, and all the homeless pets (strays, pet surrenders, and feral cats) were brought to a shelter about 40 minutes away). Dottie Reynolds (our founder) was the leading vocal advocate for establishing a shelter in our community.
Our mission is “to assist and reduce the population of homeless companion animals in Southern Ocean County and to promote shelter pet adoptions through publicity and public relations.” We are a rescue organization that not only assists the Manahawkin Shelter, but also rescues homeless cats & kittens. We are active with TNR (trap—neuter—return) and maintaining feral cat communities.
Our vision is for every homeless pet to have a home and to reduce the feral cat population through spay and neuter programs.
2. What drew you to work with Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter?
Animal welfare and homeless pets have always been a big part of my heart. Every cat I have owned has come from a rescue. I started working with the FRIENDS in 2017 as their Digital Media Manager. I was working for an agency that redesigned their website and social media platforms and had volunteered to take a reduced rate to assist them. I did that for two years and then was invited to be on the Board of Directors. At that point, I donated back my services to the organization. I was their Marketing Director and helped find more revenue streams (such as donations and fundraisers) and media outlets. I established an email newsletter and helped to guide them in updating their presence in the area.
They are an amazing group of dedicated women who inspire me daily with their drive to help the homeless pets, especially the feral cats in our area.
3. Can you explain some of the greatest challenges your nonprofit is faced with today?
There are always financial challenges, and those were increased with COVID-19 and the inability to have in-person functions. I relied heavily on Facebook fundraisers, online shopping fundraisers (Pampered Chef, spring and fall bulb sales, etc.) and outreach to local businesses to help. Somehow every month, we are able to pay the bills—veterinarian bills being our largest expense—but it is still a challenge.
4. Why did you decide to join Kambeo’s platform?
I decided to use Kambeo for a few reasons. I had started looking into better fundraising platforms that didn’t cost the organization extra money. We were using PayPal as our payment processor, and a few of our donors had issues with it. Plus, the cost of the processing and the reporting wasn’t specific.
I was on LinkedIn one day and saw that my friend Tim Fern had accepted a position with Kambeo, so I looked into it, contacted him, and scheduled a virtual meeting. I loved all the functions of Kambeo and the fact there wasn’t a monthly fee; I felt it was the best product for the organization.
5. What recent events have you run on Kambeo? And what have been the results of those events?
We haven’t used Kambeo the way we could or should. Due to some health issues, I resigned from the Board of Directors, but I still help FRIENDS with Kambeo and its website. They are actively looking for a member who has some experience with online auctions, ticket sales, etc., so I can work with this person to increase our use of Kambeo.
Kambeo has been great as our donation platform. Recently there was a local animal hoarding situation, and our shelter received 180 pets that needed care. We put a plea out for donations, and our community supported us with $37,000 in donations. The automatic thank you’s and tax letter was a huge help for our volunteers!
6. How can people help support Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter?
Monetary donations are always the best, but we also have an Amazon & Chewy Wish List and, of course, are always looking for volunteers to help in all areas! Most importantly, we hope everyone spays and neuters their pets and only adopts or purchases a pet, knowing it is a lifelong commitment.
We hope more people adopt rather than shop, as millions of homeless pets in shelters and rescues need and deserve a home. Rescue organizations are overwhelmed, and we need people to take responsibility for their pets and understand pet ownership.
Learn more about Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter at https://www.fosocas.org/