2018 Giving Challenge

    What Community Means to HSSC: A Look Back on the 2018 Giving Challenge

    Without our community, we are nothing.

    That’s not hyperbole. It’s the truth.

    The Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) is a community-based, community-serving, and community-dependent organization. Without our community, we have no adopters, no volunteers, no clients, and no donors. People often mistake HSSC as part of a national humane organization or as a county government function. We are neither. We are a private nonprofit that must raise every penny of our annual operating budget through program revenue and donations. Our 2020 operating budget is $3.67 million. That’s a lot of pennies.

    It was a group of 70 community members that founded HSSC back in 1952. One of them, Mr. Donald Evans, had lost his beloved dog. The local dog catcher caught it. Instead of contacting Mr. Evans, they euthanized the dog. That first-hand experience galvanized Mr. Evans, and he vowed that no one should endure that kind of needless pain. We have been working to prevent needless suffering—in animals and people—ever since. Thousands upon thousands of animals have been adopted over the past 68 years, and we renew our commitment to being “the area’s premier no-kill shelter” with every life saved.

    As HSSC has evolved as an organization, we have constantly redefined what it means to serve our community. You might be thinking, “but aren’t you serving animals first?” Of course! But we believe that we will never fulfill our vision of community free of animal abuse, homelessness, overbreeding, or neglect without also helping people. We help people through education, resources, and outreach.

    A person who has never been exposed to animals in a positive way may not think of animals as living, feeling creatures. That’s why the core of our humane education curriculum is to teach respect and compassion for animals. Children are the best candidates for these lessons because they go home and tell their families, and we see a ripple effect of kindness and changing attitudes. And those children will one day be adults in our community, so we’re sowing seeds of compassion for the future.

    A person who is forced to choose between feeding himself and feeding his dog may end up abandoning his dog out of desperation. We want to keep animals in loving homes. That’s why we offer a weekly pet food bank for people going through tough economic times. If a bag or two of dog food can change the trajectory of a pet’s life, then that’s a bag well spent.

    When it comes to medical procedures, there is nothing more heartbreaking than an owner not being able to afford care that could save her pet’s life. That’s why the Animal Clinic of the Humane Society of Sarasota County, which opened in 2016, has been so successful. We offer affordable care that’s comparable to a private vet office, so clients can afford wellness visits and preventives—all things that can prevent against expensive illness later. And when illness or emergency strike, we work with people so they’re not forced to make that terrible choice.

    Although we are a no-kill shelter and no shelter animal is ever euthanized for space or time, we offer “end of life” services to pet owners because it’s an inevitable part of owning a pet. When an animal reaches the end, HSSC is there to shepherd it over the “Rainbow Bridge.” Owners have a place they can go where they know they and their pet will be treated with kindness and compassion.

    Sometimes life is so stressful and overwhelming that it feels impossible to keep going. That’s when our Pet Therapy Teams come into the picture. These human-canine volunteer duos are trained and certified by HSSC to be official ambassadors of joy and hope in the community. Whether they’re helping stressed-out college students during finals week, brightening a lonely nursing home resident’s day, or giving a recovering addict a reason to get out of bed, Pet Therapy teams have a crucial role in our community.

    All these services help people so that they can help animals have better lives, and, in turn, have their lives enriched by animals.

    Without our community, we are nothing.

    Each Giving Challenge, since the very first one we participated in back in 2012, has been an opportunity to deepen our connection with our community. Whether we were asking for help to outfit a new transport van in 2015, showing off the thing we are best at (LOVE!) in 2016, or simply challenging our supporters to BE MORE in 2018, our community has supported us every time. We were so fortunate to receive $34,775 from 534 unique donors in 2018 and $31,375 in matching funds from The Patterson Foundation. The icing on the cake was winning an additional $5,100 in prizes—for a grand total of $71,250!

    It is not hard to come up with meaningful ways to describe the impact $71,250 can have on an organization like HSSC. Effectively, that amount can offset all our food, medicine, and vaccine costs for a year. It is enough to treat 467 heartworm positive dogs (only a handful of shelters take on the time and expense of treating dogs with heartworm, and HSSC is proud to be one of them). That amount would more than cover the costs of our outreach efforts, like pet therapy, humane education, teen club, summer camp, volunteer and foster programs, and K-9 obedience courses. And it could absolutely keep our food bank stocked for the people who depend on it.

    In the end, that $71,250 helped with a little bit of everything in 2018. It helped us continue to engage the hearts, hands, and minds of our community to help animals—just as our mission says we will.

    The 2020 Giving Challenge comes at a time of unprecedented uncertainty. A time when “quarantine” and “social distancing” are the new normal. With so many people faced with medical and economic challenges, we knew that our services would be that much more in demand. Our staff have rallied to keep our Animal Clinic operating safely so that people would have a place to take their pets for crucial care. We expanded the items provided in our pet pantry so that no pet goes hungry. In mid-March, we knew there was a strong possibility we would have to close the shelter, and we did not want our shelter animals to stay here indefinitely with no adopters coming through our doors. So we waived our adoption fees and set to work finding homes, both permanent and foster, for every animal in our care. After four days, the shelter was empty.

    We did not achieve that feat alone. The community flooded our inboxes with foster applications, and people waited in our parking lot for hours (because we could only have five people in the building at a time) to meet and adopt our animals. People gave chances to animals they may never have otherwise, and beautiful matches were made in the process.

    We have seen what our community is capable of, and that’s why we know that we will make it through this tough time together. The 2020 Giving Challenge is a chance for us to replenish our coffers, since we have taken a significant financial hit due to lost program revenue. But financial gain aside, the Giving Challenge is a chance to say “THANK YOU” to our community for 68 years of believing in HSSC. For believing that animals should be treated with kindness and given safe shelter. For believing that there is no greater love than that of an animal, and that people who love animals are pretty great too.

    The 2020 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation. It is a community-wide 24-hour day of online giving that runs from noon on April 28 to noon on April 29. The Patterson Foundation will provide a 1:1 match for all unique donations, up to $100 per donor, per organization. There is no limit to the number of individual matches from unique donors a nonprofit organization can receive during the 2020 Giving Challenge. Since 2012, local nonprofits have raised more than $40 million through the Giving Challenge. www.givingpartnerchallenge.org

    Learn about HSSC's Campaign for the 2020 Giving Challenge

    2018 Giving Challenge Recap

    As the area’s premier no-kill shelter, the Humane Society of Sarasota County engages the hearts, hands, and minds of the community to help animals. We cannot achieve our mission without your support.

    • Your support saves 1,600 dogs and cats every year. BE MORE DOG. BE MORE CAT. 
    • Your support provides over 5,200 pounds of free pet food. BE MORE SATISFIED.
    • Your support offers affordable vet care to the public. BE MORE CLINICAL.
    • Your support teaches humane education to children. BE MORE HUMANE.
    • Your support brings joy to people who are sad and sick. BE MORE JOYFUL.
    • Your support makes sit happen in K-9 training courses. BE MORE OBEDIENT.

    Thank you for participating in the 2018 Giving Challenge. We could not BE MORE grateful for your support.

    Time flies when you’re having fun, and we had a lot of fun watching your donations propel the Humane Society of Sarasota County up the 2018 Giving Challenge leaderboards. You rose to our Be The One to Be More “Challenge.” You made 534 donations totaling $34,775. The Patterson Foundation added $31,375 in matching funds. And HSSC received $5,100 in prizes for Best 2016 Giving Challenge Story ($500), Best Use of Social Media ($2,000), Best Original ($2,000), The Fast 50 ($500), and Facebook Donor Shout Out ($100). Drumroll, please…

    YOU raised $71,250 for the Humane Society of Sarasota County!

    Overall, the 2018 Giving Challenge raised $11,733,241 for over 630 area nonprofits! Check out the Giving Challenge website to see more. The Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

    Thanks to your generosity:

    • Homeless cats and dogs will receive medical care, nutritious food, and safe shelter until they are adopted. MORE DOG. MORE CAT.
    • People struggling to feed their pets will receive free pet food. MORE SATISFIED.
    • The Animal Clinic of HSSC will provide affordable, full-service vet care for cats and dogs. MORE CLINICAL.
    • Humane Education programs will teach local children to treat animals with respect and kindness. MORE HUMANE.
    • Pet Therapy Teams will bring comfort and cheer to people who are sick and sad. MORE JOYFUL.
    • Rambunctious dogs will master “sit” and “stay” in our K-9 Obedience Training Courses. MORE OBEDIENT.

    We are truly grateful that you chose to BE MORE during the 2018 Giving Challenge.

    Ways to Continue to BE MORE:

    • Adopt an animal. Every animal adopted from HSSC frees up a kennel space for another animal in need.
    • Put your love for animals to work. Volunteer at HSSC.
    • Take your cats and dogs to our full-service Animal Clinic. Your pets will receive quality medical care at an affordable price.
    • Check out our Giving Partner Profile to see how your donations support our mission.
    Read about the 2018 Giving Challenge -- we won Best 2018 Giving Challenge Story!

    Read about the 2016 Giving Challenge -- we won Best 2016 Giving Challenge Story!
    Read about the 2015 Giving Challenge -- we won Best 2015 Giving Challenge Story!

    The Humane Society of Sarasota County, Inc., is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Registration Number CH239, and receives 100% of all donated funds. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the division of consumer services by calling toll-free 1-800-435-7352 within the state or online at www.freshfromflorida.com. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state.