People often say to me ” I would love your job,” “It must be so nice working with animals all day.”
In reality, running an animal welfare charity overseas is nothing most like people think; it’s really like running a business. My donors are my investors and shareholders, and my customers are animals, owners, and local stakeholders. Like every business we have to have short and long-term plans, budgets, produce reviews and reports and we have to offer value for money, and unlike most business, we don’t have an overdraft. Planning and budgets are vital to ensure we can meet our short and long-term commitments, being able to say no is just as important as being able to say yes. Animals can and do suffer when organisations or individuals overextend themselves. My work does involve hands-on animal work, but there is a lot of administration, reporting and governance. No one gets into animal welfare because they like fundraising, writing business plans or filing reports but it has to be in place for Dogstar to function efficiently. Like every business we need to assess our cost-effectiveness, impact, review work streams and check for “mission creep”, are we doing what said we would, is it working, do we need to change strategy, expand, invest in staff training or equipment?
Dogstar is registered as a Charity in the UK and Australia and an international Non-Governmental Organization (iNGO) in Sri Lanka which triples our financial reporting, accounts and audits but this provides transparency and accountability to individuals, donors and relevant authorities.
Dynamic management cannot work in isolation, Internally we have a team that make decisions together about finances, reviews plans and budgets, we regularly consult our staff and ask for their views and input. Like any good business, we have processes, protocols and standard operating procedures and emergency plans which we are adding to all the time. Externally we also work and train as often as we can with other organisations both local and international; our partnerships make us stronger and more robust which means we can deliver the results that are needed.
Animal welfare is a serious business, and that’s why Dogstar is managed as one.