Today I’m kicking off a new series of Tips for Helping Animal Rescuers to share some ideas for how you can lend a helping hand to your local animal rescue group. When people are thinking of helping out a rescue, they often think of the big three ways to help: Volunteering, Fostering and Donating. Those are definitely great ways to make a contribution to an animal rescue, but in this series I’m going to be focusing on lesser known ways that you can help out rescues even if you can’t do one of the Big Three. Along the way, I’ll also be sharing stories and my personal experiences as an animal rescuer to give you some background on how these tips help out.
So without further adieu, let’s start off with Tip #1.
Helping Animal Rescuers Tip #1
Have access to a home or commercial printer? Print or make copies of commonly used paperwork like adoption contracts, brochures or business cards. You’ll reduce their printing costs and save them time.
There’s always a lot of paperwork handled by a rescue group, there are things like adoption contracts and applications, brochures on caring for animals (and in the case of my group, North Star Rescue, a different brochure for each species), business cards, flyers and informational displays for adoption events, cage cards and lots more. North Star Rescue has several adoption outposts, partners with businesses where our animals are fostered publicly to increase their chances of meeting adopters, which meant every location needed their own set of paperwork as well. This meant as the main person handling administration, I was constantly juggling my regular rescue tasks as well as making sure that I was printing and distributing all kinds of paperwork to keep every location fully stocked. It was a simple thing but also a big deal, if a location ran out of adoption contracts in between my visits it meant paying more for a company to print and deliver them right away, if they ran out of care brochures to hand out to visitors we were missing the opportunity to connect with and educate potential adopters.
Every so often I’d get a boon in the form of help with the work of printing or the cost of printing. One volunteer convinced her work to allow her to print copies for us on their commercial office printer and pay their cost of materials, something that was a fraction of what it cost us to operate our standard home printer or pay for a printing service to handle the work for us. Another helper once took a blank copy of our adoption agreement, one of our frequently used forms, and ran off a full file box of copies, which meant that I was able to drop off huge chunks of documents at each location and didn’t have to worry about keeping my routine of refilling locations for a few months. When I found myself utterly out of time (and out of ink, and out of paper) before a big adoption event, I paid a printing service to run off copies of our animal care brochures and was thrilled to find that they had thrown in folding the brochures for us at no cost…this meant me and the volunteers weren’t sitting behind the event table the next day trying to keep folding paperwork and stuffing our brochure holders as people took them, and it made our day that much easier.
If you want to help a rescue with their printing jobs, reach out and ask them if they could use help with copies or printing. Even if you only help out once with a batch of printing, that’s less time the rescuers spent handling paperwork, less money that went in to maintaining printers and buying ink, and ultimately, more time and resources to go back to the work of caring for the animals.