Friday, 26 June 2015

Sand In My Fur

Bichons and Buddies
NipClub Beach Pawty was a lot of fun last night - I think it was around 3am our time when I finally fell asleep, so I was very glad of @TinyPearlCat kindly covering me up with a warm and fluffy blankie till the morning! If you missed @GeorgeTheDuck's spectacular wipeout, by the way, you can read all about it in the Anipal Times on Tuesday... :D

Today, though, having groomed as much as possible of last night's sand out of my fur, I'm busy with one of the more serious aspects of my work at NipClub. It's time to start setting up the monthly charity for July, and as a lot of pals have asked me how that works it seems like a good idea to tell you all about it, and to show you a few examples of the charities we've helped out recently. 

Ngo 9 Lives
The first thing to do is obviously to pick some likely causes to check out. We do have a list of possible ones to help, and also suggestions that are waiting to be looked at, but this is also a time for combing Twitter, Facebook and the search engines to find the ones we can best help.

What I'm looking for is a rescue or a small shelter that is no-kill and registered as a non-profit organization. We don't help individual cases because there's no way that we can verify their bona fides. NipClub staff often help or even run appeals for cases where they know the pal concerned, and that's just fine, but what we don't do is put NipClub's name behind that.

German Shepherd Dog
Rescue Of Georgia
The reason why the charities are always small ones is to choose the ones who can most benefit from NipClub's help. 

No-kill doesn't mean they never humanely put to sleep an animal in constant and untreatable pain, or who has no realistic quality of life - it means that euthanasia is not seen as a convenient alternative to making room for animals or finding them a home. 

Registered as a non-profit means they have a 501(c)(3) certificate, or its equivalent in countries outside the USA, confirming that the tax authorities are satisfied that's what they are. The advantage of this from NipClub's point of view is that a registered non-profit has to publish its accounts, so we can (and do!) check that it isn't receiving government or local subsidies, or paying out a lot of money in administration, fund-raising and staff salaries (typically, our charities are fully staffed by volunteers). 

Assuming that the charity gets past those checks (most do, but quite a few do not), the next step is to check the day-to-day stuff.

  1. Is the charity viable? That doesn't mean ruling out every charity in temporary financial difficulties. An unexpected bill for building repairs or vet care can be enough to cause a serious problem to a small charity, and that's just the sort of thing NipClub can help with. Unfortunately, though, a lot of charities are started by well-meaning folks who have no clue whatever about funding them, and it's sometimes all too clear that they're in financial free-fall from the get-go. No matter how much any of us here might sympathize, asking NipClub members to contribute to something which clearly has no future is just not acceptable. Fortunately the need for non-profit registration tends to weed out most of those, but it's still something that needs checking;
  2. Does it have a good web and/or social media presence? That doesn't mean it needs to look as if it's spent a fortune on design - that wouldn't be a plus point! It does need to have some effective kind of online presence, though. By now, anything that doesn't make at least some use of a blog, a website or some social media accounts is out of touch and more than likely heading for oblivion, and we don't want it taking any of our members' donations with it! Typically, our charities will have a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, all updated by devoted volunteers;
  3. Is it PayPal-friendly? There was a time we could use all sorts of donation procedures to get funds to a charity, but the demise of Chip-In and the arrival of the Patriot Act changed that. There are now few ways of actually arranging for donations to be collected and transferred directly to the charity which are acceptable both to the IRS and to our members. For example, we don't help any charity which requires the input of credit card details, because so many of our members have told us they don't trust any site that asks them to do that. Likewise, we don't feature any charity which insists on donors joining mailing lists or submitting personal information. To comply with the provisions of the Patriot Act without compromising the security and convenience of all concerned we channel all payments to our featured charity through PayPal. That means we need a PayPal email for the charity, which we found out the hard way isn't necessarily the same thing as the one they use for correspondence! We can't set up our YouCaring widget without a PayPal email, so any charity that doesn't have one is ruled out; and 
  4. Is it run by activists who post distressing pictures? This is quite a new consideration, which raised its head recently because a charity we've helped before and that was scheduled to be featured again changed its policy to involve putting pictures of tortured animals in its Facebook posts, and in answer to the distressed protests of some of its supporters responded that this was a necessary part of its recently-adopted rĂ´le in activism and supporters could expect to see more of such material in future. The question of whether or not this is helpful in preventing abuse of animals is a valid one, but there's no question it does not belong at NipClub, which is purely an entertainment and a fundraiser. Our aims are to entertain anipals and to support rescues and small shelters, and we cannot feature distressing pictures or descriptions without violating the first of those aims and thereby endangering the second. So, if the charity believes its mission involves those things, they may well have a point, but they simply don't belong at NipClub.
Black Cat Rescue
If you'd like to help by suggesting a charity for NipClub to feature, please check it has a non-profit registration (it should say in its About page or its bio if it has) and post a comment here with its name and web or social media address and I'll look into it. 

P.S. You can DM me if you'd rather, but please don't just post such important information as a tweet - I very much appreciate the huge number of tweets I get, but the downside is I miss some, and I can end up unknowingly offending someone that I've not replied to 'cos I didn't see their message!  

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