Giving back: find the right non-profit animal organization for you

As the year comes to an end, we may express our gratitude by giving back and supporting a cause we hold dear to our heart. For pet owners, animal charities are a great place to start. lists 1,200 such non-profits in the country, ranging from local animal shelters to large conservation organizations supporting projects abroad. If you want your donation to have the most impact, how do you decide which one is right for you?

Which animal cause matters to you?

Choosing which non-profit organization to support is a highly personal decision. You should choose an animal charity which matches your values, your life experiences and your personal interests. Maybe you adopted a stray cat from your local animal shelter, and would like for other families to experience the same joy you have. Maybe you grew up in view of the St-Lawrence River and would like to help preserve its natural habitat. Or perhaps you enjoy travelling, and would like for your grandchildren to still be able to see exotic animal species that are currently on the verge of extinction.

Finding an animal cause which resonates with you on a personal level will help you remain interested and involved in the organization’s mission.

Do you prefer to support a local, Canadian or global organization?

Small, local charities are often underfunded and understaffed, and rely on private donations to carry on their work. You may feel your contribution can make a bigger difference in your city or neighbourhood, and see for yourself how it could directly benefit your community. On the other hand, national and international organizations are able to pursue large-scope projects and have more resources and influence regarding society’s bigger challenges, such as climate change and habitat protection. Even if your contribution seems relatively small compared to their overall budget, it still helps support important work.

Will your donation be well invested?

No matter your budget, you need to know you can trust an organization to invest your money wisely and efficiently. Start by making sure the charity is properly registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, and that the information provided is accurate.

Charities who collect a sizeable amount of donations typically make their financial statements publicly available. Review these to see how you can expect your contribution to be spent. If more than 35% of donations are spent on overhead, wages and administration, there may be little left to support the actual cause.

Can you provide support in other ways?

Money isn’t the only way you can show your commitment to an animal cause. Volunteering for simple tasks can be a fulfilling experience and an opportunity to bond with other people who share similar interests. If you have useful skills, consider offering your services free of charge. Whether it’s graphic design or web design, handyman services, accounting, event planning or even becoming a board member, your time may be even more valuable to an organization than your money.