PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2019-2020
It seems a bit disingenuous to report on progress for animals this past year when yet another zoonotic disease has emerged, reminding us of how closely the well-being of humans is tied to the well-being of animals. Fortunately, human ingenuity rises to the occasion in times of crisis. We become more informed and creative, giving us a chance to reset and transform the generally accepted ways of doing things. We can only hope this tragedy will serve as an opportunity for important lessons to be learned and implemented. I am optimistic a renewed emphasis will be placed on the health and welfare of domestic, farmed and wild animals around the globe, and new policies and standards will be put into practice.
The AWFC will no doubt feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in multiple areas. I expect donations to decrease this year, and probably the next, as individuals and corporations impacted by economic losses are less able to donate. Our investment income may also be down, which could affect our grant program. In addition, many of the organizations we funded in the past could be financially strained, perhaps relying on us for more funding in the coming year. The cost and operational pressures on animal welfare organizations (AWOs) could be significant.
However, in such a scenario, we have nowhere to go but up, even if it may take longer than we hope. So, on that positive note, I’d like to highlight some of the AWFC’s activities and outcomes this past year.
In 2019, we saw a small increase in online donations from individual donors, and continued support from organized giving platforms such as the United Way and Benevity. We also received the final distribution from a generous estate bequest. We are truly grateful to the donor and her family, who requested anonymity. These funds will help bolster our grant-giving program this year and in years to come.
I so appreciate the incredible work our Grant Committee conducts in reviewing and recommending the projects they feel are most deserving of our funding. This past year, we received grant proposals from 20 AWOs for a combined request of over $110k in funding. Of those, eight were shortlisted and the following five were awarded funds:
- Humane Canada received $8k to develop a strategy for a shared, national humane education platform;
- Rabbitats received a grant of $6k to create a prototype of a semi-portable enclosure to house, trap and sterilize feral rabbits as a means of population management. The prototype is low-cost and low-maintenance and, if successful, will be shared with other communities;
- The Toronto Wildlife Centre received a $5k grant to develop an action-oriented manual for school children offering preventative solutions to common wildlife issues;
- A grant of $5k went to the Peterborough Humane Society to develop educational materials and a safe-haven locator tool to ensure pets from families fleeing domestic violence have a place to go; and
- PAWS 4 Hope Foundation received a grant of $5000 to conduct a statistical analysis of data collected on street youth who take care of pets. The report will be publically available, with the intent to improve the policies and programs of organizations that provide care to humans and animals.
We also provided $6900 to four student animal welfare clubs at Canadian universities this year: The Ontario Veterinary College, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Pre-Vet Club and Animal Welfare Program at UBC. Our funding allows students to host and learn from lectures, workshops and conferences that address animal welfare topics outside of their regular curriculum programming.
Two of our travel bursaries ($500 each) and the Carol Morgan Memorial Award ($1500) were intended to help recipients attend Humane Canada’s National Animal Welfare Conference in Victoria at the end of March. The pandemic resulted in the conference being delivered online instead, so the funds will be recalled and used in next year’s grant cycle.
COVID-19 also led to the early closure of universities, and thus only one application was received for the $500 Minshall Award. However, both UBC and our Grant Committee determined that the applicant’s project did not quite fit the Award’s eligibility criteria, thus the Minshall award will not be granted this year.
Looking ahead to the future, our Fundraising Committee has been working on several initiatives to develop relationships with current and potential supporters. Concurrently, the Communications Committee has invested time in boosting our social media presence (now over 3300 followers) and in vastly improving the navigation, flow and content of our website. A special thank you to Karin Rego of Writeous Communications and Renato Goldoni of WebiWebi+ who generously gave their expertise and time to help with the overhaul of the website. We hope these measures will better showcase our work to donors and sponsors.
Our Finance Committee moved our investment funds to an investment counsel firm this year, away from a brokerage firm. This provides us with greater expertise and lower management fees and trading commissions. In retrospect, this has been a particularly wise move given current market conditions.
Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to several trustees whose directorships have come to an end. Leaving us will be Lee Niel and Norm Willis, who have been with the AWFC since 2013 and 2014 respectively. As well, one of our newer members, Sophie Gaillard, will be stepping down from the Board to enjoy maternity leave. I have so enjoyed working with the three of you and I know I speak for the rest of the trustees when I say that you and your contributions will be missed.
Thankfully, our Nomination Committee diligently secured 4 new trustees to fill their vacancies this coming year, and has identified others for consideration in subsequent years. We look forward to welcoming them to the Board. We will be drawing upon everyone’s creativity as we seek fresh ideas on how to best use the AWFC’s capital to support animal welfare charities and the animals they protect in this time of uncertainty.
A special thank you goes to our Treasurer and our Secretary for keeping on top of the day-to-day operations and ensuring the Foundation’s finances are in good order. Your commitment is invaluable.
Once again, my sincere gratitude to our donors and to each and every one of my fellow board members who have so generously invested their time and knowledge. Your professionalism, compassion for animals, and dedication to the AWFC is truly appreciated. I wish all of you and your families’ safe and healthy days ahead.
– Leanne McConnachie, President, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, May 2020
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PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2018-2019
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