Category Archives: Nonprofit

WittyBizGal Nonprofit Management; Why Every Nonprofit Should Have a Facebook Page-YES, This Means YOU

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Out there in the real world, the nonprofit sector is so much more than just the big players…The American Red Cross, The American Cancer Society, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the like. Those are the ones everybody knows about, because they are jumbo sized and very effectively branded. They don’t need my help. They are extremely well staffed, well funded, and well governed. But, there are often dozens-plus small charitable nonprofit organizations in any given geographic area that you’ve probably never heard of. I experienced this first hand during my time on the Board of a small nonprofit here in town serving the needs of women and their families. I kid you not, folks, this wonderful organization had been serving our tiny community steadily since 1984, with a thrift store located on a major downtown street and the first time many residents became aware of its existence was when I arranged to have the local paper come and do a feature article on our thrift store. That next week, sales at our thrift store grew exponentially, and we heard it over and over again…”Why I’ve lived here all my life and I didn’t even know you were here…I sure am glad I do now!” 

So, what does that tell us as nonprofit supporters and professionals? It tells us that, second to ensuring that your nonprofit no matter how big or small, is governed and operated according to best practices (some of which I’ve already covered here in my blog), you have to get the word out about your cause! You just have to! Donors won’t donate, clients won’t take advantage of your services, and other forms of publicity will not come your way if you don’t establish and effectively maintain two of the most fundamental forms of communication in the year 2012–a functional and up to date website, and an up to date, effectively monitored presence on social media. I stress things like functional, up to date, and effectively monitored, because the harsh truth is that if you are not willing to invest a little time and effort towards those ideals with a website and a social media presence, then you can do your organization more harm than good–seriously. Major donors and grantmakers will run for the hills if your website is full of ancient information and dead links, or if your Facebook page  contains inappropriate content (think 11 year olds who have just learned a new naughty word and now want to share it with the world), or SPAM type postings such as all the “Work From Home” scams I see posted everywhere. 

But, here’s the dirty little secret that no owner of a Facebook Fan Page wants you to know because they want you to remain really impressed with their page–aside from a couple of hours to set up properly, and a quick daily monitoring to post the good stuff and keep the bad stuff (sort of like weeds on a lawn) off, it’s obscenely easy! Webpages are a tad more work to set up and maintain, but we’re talking specifically about social media here, and more specifically a Facebook presence. 

So…why should your nonprofit organization be on Facebook? 

1) Numero Uno Reason? Because it’s FREE publicity–and you need it! Nonprofits are not known for being flush with cash. Don’t argue with me, you know it’s true. Most small nonprofits I know struggle to reach and maintain full funding for their programs and services. Period. Why turn down advertising and outreach that is basically akin to doling out dollars to put a billboard on every major and minor road everywhere in the world? That’s right, that would just be crazy, wouldn’t it? So why do you still not have a Facebook Page? 

2) Client Outreach. They are the reason you do what you do. Chances are, they’re on Facebook. Even the ones who still don’t have a computer and an internet connection at home have a library card. And with that library card comes free access to the internet. And Facebook pages soon follow free access to the Internet. There’s not one of us who has ever been online who hasn’t Googled old friends, old flames, and assorted questionable estranged relatives. And the best way to keep up with all of those people once you’ve found them is in Facebook. We’re all human, we all do it. Your clients are human, they do it too. 

3) Donor and Grantmaker Outreach. We have reached that point in world history where these folks, who you are definitely trying to reach and who you would dearly love to write you a big fat check, expect you to have a social media presence. And that means a Facebook page at least, maybe a Twitter page. If you don’t have one, they will ask themselves silently why you don’t have one. They’ll never admit it, but it may also be one of the reasons why they choose to donate or grant elsewhere…because social media has become so widespread and commonplace in 2012 that they may consider it a red flag that you don’t exactly have your ducks in a row. 

Hopefully, having made the case as to why, if you have achieved 501c3 status, you should also achieve a Facebook Page, here are a few WittyBiz tips for you and your worthy, possibly unheard of, nonprofit organization: 

  • Your page needs to be a Facebook Fan Page, NOT a regular Facebook Page where you add Friends, and NOT a Group. This is your calling card billboard to the world. If Facebook Users can’t “Like” your organization’s page without your approval, then you’ve picked the wrong one. Abort! Reboot! And make an authentic Fan Page. 
  • Designate one or two representatives from your organization to set up the page, and act as its official Administrators. Don’t hand out this responsibility lightly–this page is public, and the reputation of your nonprofit organization is on the line. 
  • If you have more than one Administrator, have all parties work diligently to achieve a page that is written and posted as “one voice”. 
  • Make sure that your nonprofit organization’s contact information is complete and accurate in the “About” section of the page, and be sure to include your official mission in that section as well. 
  • Don’t be a bore! Social media is not the same thing as a nonprofit symposium. Hopefully, before too long, you’ll have Fans from all walks of life, all sorts of interested supporters. A Facebook Fan Page that is full of nothing but dull statistics and pleas for donations is the quickest way to be “Unliked” and/or ignored on Facebook. Sprinkle a little appropriate, related pop culture on there, along with showing a little peek of your nonprofit’s personality! 
  • Monitor and weed as needed. As mentioned, people may try to post all sorts of inappropriate and/or off topic content on your page. Much like graffiti on the outside of your nonprofit’s headquarters downtown, you have the right and the responsibility to keep your page on message, and non-offensive to a reasonable person’s standards. In my opinion, this includes flame wars that may ensue in the comment section of your postings. When a reasonable discussion, or even a friendly debate deteriorates into the cyber equivalent of hair pulling, and “Yo Mamas” it may be time to start removing Fan comments. Nicely and professionally, of course. 
  • Be sure that your Administrators, or other official leaders of the organization respond promptly and effectively to any Facebook direct private messages, or Wall inquiries your Fan Page receives. If you fail to do so, it will be duly noted by the public–and not in a good way…
  • Have fun! It has been my experience that people who are generally uncomfortable with online activity tend to, as President Obama says, get all wee-weed up–over Facebook. Trust me, it is the most user friendly online interface out there. Take some time to poke around the site, click on the help features if you don’t understand something, and ask around. Chances are, just about everyone on Facebook is willing to lend some advice about the ins and outs of the site. Be professional, but don’t be so afraid of looking unprofessional that your content seems too stiff and unapproachable. Loosen up, you’ll do fine! 

I hope to see you all online! 

5 Things You May Not Know About Juliette Gordon Low

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Recently I visited Savannah, Georgia for the very first time–a beautiful, interesting, and historically rich city I highly recommend! It is the birthplace of the Girl Scouts of America, and also the birthplace of its founder, Juliette Gordon Low. As a former…well, okay, very former member of both Brownies and Girl Scouts, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tour her home which is located right there in historic downtown Savannah. If you ever have the chance to get to that area, you’d be missing out if you didn’t see it. For information on the house and tours, click here: I’m Interested In Seeing The Home Of A Rockin’ Visionary And Authentic Womens’ Rights Advocate, Way Ahead Of Her Time! 

I’ll be honest, other than a paper I wrote a few months ago where I used Girl Scouts of the USA as my nonprofit topic, I have not thought much about my own experiences as a Girl Scout over the last few decades. And, as a mom of boys, it’s not come up in conversation either. I dropped out around 4th or 5th grade, as I recall, which is sadly pretty common. There were two young ladies in our tour group cohort who were still Girl Scouts and in high school, and they confirmed that it is unusual for girls to stick with it to the end. They are a rarity, and were there earning their pin for touring the house of the founder. They were extremely polite, gracious, intelligent, and enthusiastic young women–just the sort we want to transition into being our co-workers, friends, mothers, and leaders of our society in the years to come. Hmmmm….could there be a correlation? I think so! Maybe we all need to encourage the young women around us to stay in Girl Scouts for the long haul. They do sort of kick folks out at 18, and after 12th grade, so girls can’t stay in indefinitely, but “finishing” Girl Scouts is a trend I’d like to see, wouldn’t you? 


Anyway, back to the reason I started writing a blog this morning…On the tour I took, and thanks to some materials I browsed after taking the tour, I learned a few lesser known, but fascinating factoids about the founder of this truly amazing organization. And here they are…

1) She was an extremely accomplished painter/artist. I mean, we are talking professional artist quality here. Throughout the house are examples of her work, including a gorgeous, one of a kind set of hand painted plates on the dining table. 

2) As an adult, she was mostly deaf in one ear. This was due to a freak accident that happened on her wedding day when a grain of rice lodged in her ear. When the doctor took it out, her eardrum was damaged during the procedure. 

3) She made a poor choice of a spouse, and paid the price with a bad marriage. Of course, when a marriage is bad, no outsider really knows what happened, and as they say, it takes two. However, the impression I got was that her husband was not a very nice guy. In fact, he asked her for a divorce, she refused to grant it, and then he died shortly thereafter. Hence, Juliette Gordon Low remained Juliette Gordon Low–for always. 

4) This next one is copied and pasted right from the official Girl Scouts website–the section on Juliette’s life: “One of her special skills was standing on her head. She stood on her head every year on her birthday to prove she still could do it, and also celebrated nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays by standing on her head. Once, she even stood on her head in the board room at National Headquarters to show off the new Girl Scout shoes”. 

5) Juliette was BFF’s with Rudyard Kipling. They used to go fishing and camping together, and he taught her a lot about both. Just think, all those Girl Scout tendencies to go camping, hiking, and in general to appreciate and learn to navigate the great outdoors may have their origins in this friendship between two famous people! 

Just in case you didn’t know it, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA…it says so right there on my commemorative t-shirt….

To learn more about the Girl Scouts of the USA, and just how it supports the leadership development, skill building, and self esteem of girls who then grow into the women who will shape this world, please visit their very impressive official website here: Girl Scouts of the USA

Until next time…

WittyBizGal Nonprofit Projects; Rescue Me Earrings

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Just in time for your Christmas stocking stuffer problem solving, I’ve designed these adorable little dog earrings to bring awareness to the cause of rescue animals everywhere! I will donate $5 of the sale price directly to Florida Little Dog Rescue, an amazing 501c3 nonprofit organization working hard to match last chance rescue dogs with lonely but loving humans and homes. 

If you want to take a pass on the earrings, but would still like to make a donation to Florida Little Dog Rescue, please click here to visit their website: I Want To Help Rescue Dogs! 

The earrings are designed and made by me with all gold plated elements and genuine swarovski crystal accents, fashioned in comfortable lever back pierced earring style. Green universally symbolizes hope–the hope that each of these little rescue critters have in their hearts of finding a loving home. Gold satin gift/storage bag & free shipping are included in the purchase price! 

To purchase securely through PayPal:

1) Make your payment of $20 to wittybizgal@gmail.com at www.paypal.com I tried to embed their convenient “Buy Now” button into my blog, but it didn’t work. Where are all the computer geeks when you really need one???!!!

2) Drop me a line at wittybizgal@gmail.com with your name and shipping address. Once the payment clears, your earrings will be mailed then if in stock, ASAP if I need to restock, and/or make more.

3) If you want this item sent to someone else as a gift, please indicate that in your email. 

Thanks for reading, and for your interest in WittyBizGal Nonprofit Projects! 

$20

Gold Plated Lever Back Earrings 1.25 inches in length


WittyBizGal Nonprofit Management; 3 Common But Fatal Governance Mistakes

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The Boards of Directors of nonprofit organizations are a vital component of each and every entity which is a part of the nonprofit sector. A high functioning board is one where leaders clearly understand board roles and responsibilities, as well as areas of major accountability which are:

  • Setting broad strategic vision and goals 
  • Overseeing and ensuring nonprofit’s overall financial viability, both short and long term
  • Fundraising
  • Positive promotion of the organization in the community 
  • Effectively managing and delegating operational responsibility to the Executive Director

Almost everyone who joins a nonprofit Board of Directors does so with good intentions, and a desire to support a worthy cause. There is rarely ever a financial gain motivation, as nonprofit board members are not paid. In fact, in many organizations, board members are expected to make substantial contributions in the form of monetary donations, in addition to donation of time and service

So, you’d think that nonprofit boards would not only survive but thrive in this perpetual atmosphere of goodness, light, good will and sunshine, right? Well…not exactly. In fact a lot of things can go wrong in this sort of environment, resulting in minor to severe organizational dysfunction, ineffectiveness in governance, stagnation, and even the eventual demise of the nonprofit. That last one is always a shame, as most charitable organizations are founded with worthy and important goals, and at least the potential to address pressing social service need, and fill critical gaps in communities. 

Here are my top 3 picks for the common, but highly fixable errors made by a lot of nonprofit boards:

1) Failure To Strategically Assemble And Maintain A Diverse Group

The key to success with a Board of Directors often lies not in its ability to get along well, socialize outside the boardroom, and never experience conflict, but in understanding the value of a team which respects and even embraces differences in one another. The key here is diversity–not in the traditional sense of racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity, although that can play a role as well–but in diversity of background experiences, professional skill sets, personality, and ways of approaching problems. 

Homogeneous groups tend to be less effective than diverse groups because they are prone to groupthink and lack of innovation. This is a common occurrence on nonprofit boards primarily due to the way in which these groups tend to source their members–through their own social connections. People are more comfortable being around others who think like they do and have the same response to problem solving, etc. Let’s remember that comfort is not the goal here–affecting positive change for the client group is

2) Thinking Governance and Management Are One In The Same

Quite simply, they’re two different concepts. Lines are often blurred due to a fundamental lack of understanding of the governance role, as well as arguably subtle differences between the two. Hey, let’s face it, sometimes you can be governing right along there with the best of them, lose focus, and all of a sudden wake up managing. How the heck did you get there? Well, because it’s easy to do. Here are a few tips to keep boards on the governing side and steering clear of sliding over into management:

  • Hire and effectively manage the overall performance of the Executive Director, don’t push them aside and do their job for them. 
  • Keep simultaneous focus on the short and long term. This is actually Leadership 101, and not as hard as it sounds. Set short and long term goals with long term vision in mind. Determine the purpose of your organization, realistically look at where you are now, develop a vision of where you’d like to be, and give broad marching orders on how to get there utilizing the resources you have in the here and now. 
  • Resist the urge to micromanage! If your staff and/or fellow board members are afraid to make the decisions and take the actions which fall within the range of those bullet points on their job description without running it by you first–every time–then you too might be a micromanager. Consult Control Freaks Anonymous for 12 Step Help. 🙂 
  • Remember that oversight is your primary responsibility. Delegation is not abdication. The buck stops with you. In addition to looking great on one of those cheesy motivational business posters, those last two sentences should be your guiding light for governance. Be present and accountable for what your nonprofit does and how it is viewed by external stakeholders. 

3) Nursing A Fundamental Lack of Understanding That Change Is Inevitable, But Growth Is Optional

My friend, motivational speaker and author Mary Foley Tweeted that the other day, and it stirred my governance juices so that I felt compelled to Tweet back, “Amen Sister!” The nonprofit sector has the reputation of being slow to embrace change, clunky and inefficient, and idealistic-unrealistic. Mind you, I say this as a great lover and supporter of all things 501c3, but the nonprofit sector has come by that stereotype honestly….

Many nonprofit boards, while well meaning, do cling to the notion of doing things the way they’ve always been done. While it is important to know and understand the history of the organization (that’s the “where we’ve been and where we are now” part), it is also important to fully grasp the concept that while change is scary, it will be visited upon your nonprofit whether you like it or not. Organizations, as much as they’d like to, do not exist in a vacuum. There is an internal and external environment in which they must exist that is continually changing. Client groups change, client needs change, legal and regulatory climates change, best management practice changes…all aspects of the world in which your nonprofit operates change. And, as Mary so aptly stated in 140 characters or less, the positive growth of your nonprofit is optional…It is optional, and fully within your locus of control and responsibility as a nonprofit board member and leader. 

Should boards then respond by tearing up the old ways and jumping on the bandwagon of whatever is new and trendy? Of course not. But, boards make a grave error when they tie their own hands, those hands responsible for shaping the present and future of the organization, because they are afraid to try new things, think outside the box, and take a calculated, educated risk now and then. If the fear that shaking things up a bit will cause your most important members to jump ship, then you really have to ask yourself if you have fallen into that common trap of pleasing one another rather than a spirit of servant leadership to your mission.  

Please feel free to comment below on my top three governance errors, and add some of your own! 

From Slow Road To Burnout To Energized & Motivated; My Hour With Liz Murray

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You know, those of us who are doing okay in life…not fabulous, yet not worrying where our next meal is coming from, or how we’re going to keep a roof over our heads–literally, are at risk. We’re at risk for going through the motions…doing what we’re supposed to do…looking good on the outside. But so often we’re crying out inside. Not so much so that we would ask for help, or so as you’d notice, but just enough that we need someone, somewhere, to give us a reason to keep on moving forward, to keep reaching for a better life, to make something beautiful and meaningful in this world with so much sadness…so much ugliness. And today, I, Lisa Casas, aka, “WittyBizGal” got that reason. 

I work with a small nonprofit here in town. We work diligently to give women in our community a hand up. The hand up part is very important because, although we address their immediate needs, our overarching mission is to help them help themselves toward independence–financial and otherwise. About a month ago we held a planning meeting to discuss the upcoming graduation ceremony for our Independence Program. As of that date, there was no keynote speaker, and we were kicking around ideas. Since I’d been thinking about her since last year’s graduation, I suggested Liz Murray, best known for the Lifetime movie made about her life, “Homeless to Harvard”. The graduation committee liked the idea and ran with it, which led to today…

Liz Murray ate lunch with us, then rose to speak inspiring, motivational words to our graduates, first through sharing her harrowing tale of a childhood with drug addicted parents, not enough food to eat, and no external encouragement for her to end up any better off than her role models, who sadly eventually died of AIDS. Then came the truly important part–how she turned that little spark inside of her, that spark we all retain no matter how old we get or how jaded we become, into a flame which carried her through the Harvard intake interview and New York Times Scholarship interview on the same day, both of which she almost, almost blew off. 

And today, with my more or less ordinary life that nobody would ever consider making a movie about,  and my little blog that I think only my friends, family, and probably a few frenemies I’ve collected over the years read, Liz’s words helped me find that spark in myself again. At just the point where I had begun to ask myself, “Why bother?”, I remember why…Among other reasons, the world needs people who believe in themselves, and believe in their own dreams. Because it’s catchy! 

First, believe in yourself, then go out there and motivate somebody else to do the same! 

If you’d like to see Liz Murray’s Lifetime movie, go here: Homeless To Harvard; The Liz Murray Story 

To purchase Liz’s autobiography, published in 2010, click here: Breaking Night 

To book Liz Murray to be a speaker at your next event, try this link: Liz Murray 

If you’d like to follow Liz on Twitter, this is her account: Follow Liz On Twitter 

I’m about 1/3 of the way through Breaking Night myself, so stay tuned for a book review on that! 

Until next time…

 

 

 

WittyBizGal Nonprofit Management; How Much Should Your Nonprofit Rely On Required Board Member Monetary Donations?

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WHAT ARE OTHER NONPROFITS’ POLICIES ON REQUIRED BOARD MEMBER DONATIONS? (Based on a 2007 Board Source survey)

Image & Data Sourced From: Should Board Members Be Required To Give? by Jan Masaoka 

I’ve been thinking about this issue for awhile now, gathering information, organizing my own thoughts on the subject, and would now like to address this arguably sticky wicket. Why is it sticky? I have come to the conclusion that it is one of the most uncomfortable management and governance problems the board will face, all because we’re human. Yep, we are impressive, professional, governing bodies comprised of flawed human beings–and discussion of personal financial matters makes most of us so uncomfortable that we don’t…discuss them, that is. This often leads to confusion, embarrassment, and less than effective governance and management, as poor organizational communication always does. 

It may not be common knowledge, but most nonprofit professionals are aware that it is traditional in the nonprofit sector for members of the organization’s Board of Directors to donate substantively to the nonprofit. This is because donations on the part of board members represent a gesture of good faith to the organization, as well as personal belief in, and commitment to, the entity’s vision and mission, as well as a tangible partial fulfillment of board members’ responsibility to fundraise. Financial donations in particular, according to some sources, render board members better able to approach donors to ask for major gifts and other types of charitable donations, although I disagree with this stance. Why do I disagree? Because I believe that substantive, meaningful donations on the part of individual board members do not necessarily need to be financial. There are a variety of ways in which board members can donate to the nonprofit in order to fulfill that generally accepted requirement to donate substantively as an individual–the traditional fiscal contribution of course, but also donations of the in kind variety, meaning special professional expertise, actual volunteer man hours, goods and services donations, etc. 

And here is where I will buck the system and attempt to radically overthrow the nonprofit sector as we know it and state without hesitation that I do not believe the traditionally accepted custom of requiring annual financial contributions of board members is a good one. Not only do I think this is an outdated notion which has been carried forth in the sector simply because it is tradition, but I also think it can be unhealthy and harmful to the organization in certain circumstances. While I completely agree that board members need to display commitment to and belief in the organization via donation, as I’ve stated, those donations can and should come in a variety of forms in addition to financial. In fact, nonprofits adhering to the tradition of large, required monetary donations to the nonprofit run the serious risk of maintaining a homogenous board, with only members of one particular socioeconomic background, which can lead to harmful groupthink, or even unnecessary discrimination against worthy potential members of lesser personal means. 

Board members of nonprofit organizations can and should be so much more than large gift donors. Great, effective board members….

  • Display exceptional leadership skills
  • Demonstrate ability to keep simultaneous focus on both long term and short term organizational goals
  • Bring diverse professional skill sets to the table
  • Have the inclination and ability to volunteer hours of their time to make a difference
  • Offer varied perspectives in order to foster effective teamwork and problem solving
  • Skillfully and strategically plan organizational activities from year to year which effectively support the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose in the community

Nonprofit organizations, quite frankly, are lucky if they can find these qualities in board members willing to donate their time and expertise to the organization…and these qualities don’t always co-exist with a fat personal bank account. Board members from all walks of life, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic status should be sourced by organizational leaders in order to assemble the best team–a team with diversity of perspective, and a desire to do something wonderful and meaningful with their lives. Overreliance upon the Board of Directors for fundraising from their own wallets, and overemphasis upon members’ ability to donate financially, can cheat nonprofit entities, and more importantly the clients we serve, out of an optimally functioning board. Not to mention the fact that honing an ability to gather such donations from the community, corporations, and other sources is equally, if not more important than simply reaching for one’s own checkbook to finance organizational activities, programs, and services. 

For additional reading on the topic of board member contributions of all varieties, I recommend BoardSource  for trustworthy, up to date governance articles and resources. 

What is your take on mandatory, or strongly expected and heavily emphasized board member monetary donations? Do you hold with the traditional school of thought that this is a large part of what makes a board member worthy and desirable as part of the team, or do you agree with me that we need to start a bit of a revolution in our sector? Weigh in below! 

WittyBizGal Nonprofit Spotlight: Come On Baby And Rescue Me!

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Last year, right after Thanksgiving, I made a life changing decision–I adopted a dog! I’d honestly never “owned” a dog by myself before…I’d had cats mostly, and had adopted them from shelters over the years, that is until my youngest showed signs of cat allergy. After that, I was more or less pet-less, although we had a family guinea pig, Nutmeg, a betta fish named Sal, and a family dog we call Sodor. But as for a critter that would follow me around like a furry stalker, and always choose my lap to sit on, nope, not really…

It was my husband’s idea that I get a little dog…one I could keep in the house, take places with me, and one that would be my own little shadow. He suggested that we find a reputable breeder and consider a Yorkie. As I began to look into the different breeds of small dogs, I read that Chihuahuas were fiercely loyal, and tended to bond with one person in the house. That sounded right up my alley!

I thought about breeders and going for a pure bred dog. There are certainly advantages to that, such as a better chance of getting particular traits that suit you and your needs, and I don’t fault anyone for wanting a pure or “real” version of any dog. That’s a personal choice. But for me, I just kept thinking about all the animals, dogs, cats, etc. that are destroyed each year because they are unwanted. There’s usually nothing wrong with them such as being overly aggressive or sick, there are simply too many of them and not enough people who want them…or perhaps not enough people who know how to get them.

I began to search online for shelters in my area, and my internet queries quickly pulled up a nonprofit organization in my region—Florida Little Dog Rescue. I was intrigued! This place obviously dealt in little dogs, and I’d actually be “rescuing” a dog. Quite honestly, I didn’t really know what that meant, but I assumed I’d be saving a dog from certain death, or maybe a fate worse than death. This sounded like a plan!

9 Out of 10 Hot Vets Agree–Rescue Rocks! 😉

And so it began…in a process that smacks of online dating, I searched the little furry faces on the page, and as I read their biographies, tears welled up several times.  A lot of them had been rescued from abusive situations, abandonment, and puppy mills—there seem to be an inordinate number of monsters who were all too willing to keep animals in deplorable conditions, forcing them to give birth to one litter of puppies after another, all for profit. Ugh…sometimes I’m really embarrassed to be a part of the human race…


Anyway, as I browsed over a few days, looking for the best friend that was just right for me, I saw many pooches that were strong candidates. They were all small, cute, and their stories tugged at my heartstings. And then, along about day 3, I saw her—the one. She was a Chihuahua, mostly anyway, and in her photo she just had this attitude…you know, not a bad attitude, but she was staring proudly and looking straight into the camera as if to say, “I’m cute, I’m sweet, and I’m the one for you! Why wouldn’t you want me???” And those ears…let’s just say, Peach (that was her name) could have auditioned for the lead in the canine version of “Dumbo”….just sayin’…In fact, it was those amazing, no apologies, Look at me world!!!, ears that sealed the deal for me. They gave, and still give her, character and personality.


I called about Peach right away and arranged to go and visit her at her foster home, which was over an hour’s drive away, after my application had been approved. They told me that I could either adopt her right on the spot, or go home and think about it. I dragged my family out on a Sunday afternoon, because I was sure that my dog would get snapped up by some bogus person if I didn’t go right then. As mentioned before, I’m impulsive like that. Sometimes it works in my favor, and sometimes not.

When we arrived at the foster home, she came right out to the car and started wagging her tail. Her “Foster Dad” stared in disbelief and said, “I can’t believe she’s not barking at you guys…she barks at everybody!” This turned out to be a highly prophetic statement, as my Peach, who I renamed Coco, is the terror of the neighborhood on our nightly walks. She especially hates other dogs (aside from her adoptive brother Sodor), and bicycles. The guy who rides his bicycle while trailing his little dog on a leash alongside really makes her foam at the mouth. Oh, and she’s doubled in size, more or less growing into those ears. 🙂  She has several quirks, some of them cute, some of them annoying, but she’s mine. And she’s perfect for me! She also definitely has those loyal Chihuahua traits too—she’s bonded pretty strongly with me, going wherever I go. She’s a good car rider…likes to stick her head out the window and bark at bike riders and anyone else who looks suspicious to her.

As a nonprofit organization, Florida Little Dog Rescue has a smart, efficient business model. In order to keep overhead low, they do not maintain office space, and business is conducted mostly by phone and online. They also rely heavily on foster homes for rescue dogs, which consist of animal lovers in the region who are willing and able to open their homes to the animals until they are adopted. This is actually a big part of what makes Florida Little Dog Rescue unique, because the foster environment allows foster humans to assess the temperament, personality, quirks, and housebroken status of the dog in a home setting. That way, the foster family or individual can communicate directly with the potential adoptive family or individual about the realities of adopting a particular animal, thus ensuring a better dog/human match, and hopefully a stable, lifelong home for an already traumatized doggie.

Florida Little Dog Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that is a division of Big Dog Rescue. The organization supports its efforts and operation solely on charitable donations. If you would like to make a donation to the general operating fund of Florida Little Dog Rescue, please click on the picture of Coco below:


If you are interested in adopting a little dog yourself, please start by filling out this Adoption Application so that your eligibility may be assessed. Please Note: Adoption is only available to Florida residents at this time!

To view the photos and read the bios of little dogs currently available for adoption, click here: I’m Looking For My New Best Friend

If you live in Central Florida and would like to become involved in fostering rescued dogs, go here: I’d Like to Open My Home to Rescue Dogs

To follow Florida Little Dog Rescue on Facebook, where adoptable dogs are featured along with their eventual rescue success stories, click here: Florida Little Dog Rescue on Facebook

And finally, if you’d like to donate to save a specific dog that is scheduled to be euthanized by Animal Control this week, click this link: Save Me, I’m Worth It!