It’s one thing to know there is a need and have the desire to help, it’s quite another to find an agent to oversee your generosity.
Tender hearts see the bedraggled strays on the streets, the animals in need of homes, food and often medical attention, and often want to do something, but those tender hearts know they simply can’t take them all home.
And while the responsibility of cities and counties includes protecting communities from health and safety issues, beyond that, they really aren’t responsible for or capable of fixing it all.
In between the two lies a pretty wide gap and one that is only bridged by community members stepping up and taking responsibility.
Feeding the homeless puppies, helping place them in homes, spaying and neutering, medical aid for sick or injured animals, helping families keep their animals during times of hardship — all fall on the shoulders of the people who live in a community.
There is a long line of organizations vying for donations and an even longer list of causes that beg for assistance. With all the outstretched palms, cans on counters, events, raffles and sponsorship opportunities, even the kindest heart can succumb to confusion and uncertainty about how to make their dollars count where they are needed.
Charitable organizations which, “exist, operate or solicit contributions,” within the state of New Mexico are required by law to register with the attorney general.
Those organizations — there are 28, two specific to helping animals listed in the Clovis area — are publicly listed on the attorney general’s website in a searchable database (located at secure.nmag.gov/CharitySearch/). Included is their financial information, such as the amount of donations they’ve received, their management costs, program costs, tax reporting and more.
Another good measure of accountability comes from groups obtaining 501(c)(3) status, classifying them as a nonprofit. While not required, it shows they are committed to operating exclusively for their stated purpose and that contributions will not be used to benefit individuals or shareholders. It also requires they provide financial information to the public.
When it comes down to it, skepticism is wise but shouldn’t stop people from finding ways to help and invest in their community, including its animals.
An organization isn’t required to leave a bag of dog food on the porch of an elderly neighbor living on a fixed income, or to make sure local food pantries have a few bags of kibble on hand — Creativity and generosity make a great pair, because where ever there is a tender heart there is always an unmet need and a way to help.
Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at: www.insearchofponies.blogspot.com