Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor
I joined Humane Pennsylvania (then Humane Society of Berks County) as executive director nearly twenty years ago. I had previously worked at a larger and better-funded animal shelter. But when I compared the output of the two organizations, I was surprised to find our little animal shelter did more and provided more of some services than the other, bigger shelter, despite having fewer resources.
I started comparing our numbers to other organizations. We did more adoptions annually than some big-name, nationally known shelters, and without a 7 (or 8 or 9) digit annual budget. We handled more animals annually than a nationally known animal sanctuary. Later, we discovered that we were one of only 15 or 20 non-profit, full-service veterinary hospitals in the nation- despite having only 2% to 20% of those other organizations’ annual budgets.
Necessity can be the mother of invention or an excuse to do less. Humane PA has always worked to be inventive, make the most of our limited resources, and do the most good with the donations you share. Our operations are five times bigger now. But we do more than five times as much good work. And we still outpace the quantity and quality of good work of many more prominent organizations.
Our innovative veterinary services deliver tens of thousands of client visits, surgeries, and services to animals and people from all walks of life and economic circumstances each year. Our pet food pantry distributes a couple hundred thousand pounds of food and supplies annually. We have created programs that do more and do it more effectively than places that are entirely out of our league in size and resources.
Our staff and volunteers have a lot to be proud of. We sometimes forget to crow about how much we do in our community because we are always so focused on doing more or finding the next solution. Sometimes, stopping and marveling at how much we accomplish is good. When we have our annual numbers finalized early next year, we will share them because we want you to know what we are doing for animals and people on your behalf. We also want our staff to understand how well they do compared to organizations we often look to as leaders in our work.
However, we know not to be too prideful or smug in those comparisons because we work with many organizations that do more with less than we do on our best days. We can take credit where it’s due and give it to others, bigger or smaller, too. Other organization’s innovations and ideas help us build on our own and avoid complacency. So that leads us to our plans for 2024….
Humane PA is focusing on three things:
- Identifying and filling service and resource gaps
- Revisiting previously intractable and unsolvable problems
- Making giant leaps in the quality of our facilities and client experience.
These three things often overlap or reinforce each other for good or bad. So, we are identifying some new approaches that will check all three boxes, are sustainable, and serve the current needs of our community rather than past needs. These include:
- Expanding our Spike Pet Food Pantry capacity with an audacious but achievable goal of one million pounds of pet food and supplies distributed to more communities annually.
- Expanding our unique and uniquely effective approach to supporting community and free-roaming cats and their caretakers to end our communities’ needless cycle of death.
- Adding community pet boarding services via our new Spike & Tilly’s Pet Resort and significantly expanding our emergency boarding program via our award-winning PetNet program.
- Dramatically improving all aspects of our facilities and processes to ensure animals and clients have the best possible experience when they stay, visit, or engage with Humane PA.
These initiatives will help more animals and people, save lives, save resources, and serve as models for other organizations who might look to us for inspiration, just as we look to others for new ideas and approaches. Every year (month, day!), the world changes, and the needs of animals and people in our community change, too. You can’t be prepared for everything, but a culture of growth and innovation makes it easier to respond to the unexpected and to change paths when needs change. That path has helped us survive major economic downtowns and a pandemic. It’s also allowed us to recognize needs and problems before they are widely recognized as such.
Being part of a culture of growth and innovation, with a focus on effectiveness and efficacy as the best path to life-saving, is some credit I will gladly accept and share with our staff, volunteers, and donors.