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Follow the guide below to writing a business plan for your animal rescue. We encourage you to think of your rescue as a for-profit business, even though you are going to be building and running a non-profit. This may seem like a juxtaposition, however, your non-profit is going to need money to fund your life-saving efforts. So, if we can help you build a non-profit that runs like a business, then we have accomplished what this book has set out to do.

A business cannot succeed without first having a business plan. To start we’re going to help you write and personalize your own “Rescue Plan”. Writing it out will help organize your efforts, from fundraising to organizing your fosters and adoptions.

Executive Summary and Mission Statement

Why are you emBARKing on this journey?! Let your executive summary explain who your rescue is and what you are doing. Introduce your rescue and briefly state your plan and your goals. Then write your mission statement. Let this define why your rescue exists.

Determine Your Rescue’s Structure

Next, explain what your rescue will look like. Will it be breed or species-specific? Are you going to only focus on pets with medical problems? Will you be open to any and all cases? Is your rescue going to work with only fosters? Will you be utilizing a boarding facility,? Do you plan on raising funds to have a shelter? Who will help with the medical care?

Be as specific and detail-oriented as possible. Write exactly how your rescue will be structured, who will hold roles within the rescue, and how the animals will be cared for. Knowing how your rescue will operate is vital to a successful start.

Opportunities & Risks

As you start to understand how your rescue will operate and the animals you will be working to save, start mapping out the opportunities you have to help and the risks involved. Opportunities may be pulling high risks dogs from the local shelter or TNR efforts for cat colonies in your area.

With each opportunity, there are also risks. Be aware of what could go wrong, and how you will handle this. Risks could include anything from not having funds to save an animal or not having enough fosters. How will your rescue handle these types of situations?

Establish Your Goals

Now the exciting part! Setting your life-saving goals!! Use the SMART goal criteria and write goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Your goals can include animal intake numbers, foster network goals, and/or fundraising goals. Here are some example to help get you started:

  • Grow our foster network to 20 people within our first six months of becoming a 501c3.
  • Transfer five dogs a week from the local shelter into our rescue’s foster network.

Implementation Plan

You’ve got lives waiting on you! Time to plan out your action steps to doing the actual life-saving. Below is a list to get you started on defining the actual process behind these parts of your rescue. We’ll touch on all aspects of these throughout this book.

  • Marketing
  • Foster network
  • Veterinary care
  • Adopters
  • Volunteers
  • Donors
  • Board members
  • Operations

Fundraising Plan

Next, explain what your rescue will look like. Will it be breed or species-specific? Are you going to only focus on pets with medical problems? Will you be open to any and all cases? Is your rescue going to work with only fosters? Will you be utilizing a boarding facility,? Do you plan on raising funds to have a shelter? Who will help with the medical care?

Be as specific and detail-oriented as possible. Write exactly how your rescue will be structured, who will hold roles within the rescue, and how the animals will be cared for. Knowing how your rescue will operate is vital to a successful start.

The Impact

As you start to understand how your rescue will operate and the animals you will be working to save, start mapping out the opportunities you have to help and the risks involved. Opportunities may be pulling high risks dogs from the local shelter or TNR efforts for cat colonies in your area.

With each opportunity, there are also risks. Be aware of what could go wrong, and how you will handle this. Risks could include anything from not having funds to save an animal or not having enough fosters. How will your rescue handle these types of situations?