RescueGroups.org services used by 3000+ rescues and shelters – Interview with Richard Saffell

RescueGroups.org is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which provides services to help the community of Animal Welfare Organizations work more effectively.

Many non-profits and animal welfare groups are based on the help of volunteers and donations and are in need of technical support when it comes to their websites and their data management. RescueGroups.org provides very useful and functional tools and services to the animal welfare community under very fair conditions. Designed for Animal Welfare Organizations and shelters, RescueGroups.org provides such technology solutions as free and low-cost websites, data management, domains and email services. This unaffiliated, volunteer-driven, non-competitive organization works with like-minded organizations to help animal welfare organizations, volunteers and pets.

We all know how huge social media’s impact is today, and many rescue groups and pet-related businesses use this excellent tool to get the word out – about their work, adoptable pets, events, news and products. RescueGroups.org’s Facebook iFrame/Application and free pet adoption portal, which you can easily implement into your website, are just two of many great services this organizations offers.

In this written interview Richard Saffell explains how animal welfare organizations and shelters can use the services of RescueGroups.org to improve their websites, their work and their effectiveness.

Web: RescueGroups.org

Twitter: @rescuegroupsorg

Facebook: RescueGroups.org

We’re very excited to learn more about RescueGroups.org – how and when did your personal adventure with this cause begin?

RescueGroups.org was started in 2002 when the founders noticed the need for a low-cost, data driven website service for animal rescues and shelters. Too many volunteers were either forced to learn HTML and web technologies, or be completely dependent on a webmaster or web expert to maintain their organization’s website. So we started RescueGroups.org so that even the most computer illiterate rescue/shelter worker can have powerful and time-saving services.

You offer services like Data Management and Website Services. You help and support with Web Site Service, Email Marketing Service, Voice Mail Service, Domain Name Service, set up pages for organizations on Facebook and more. Who can sign up for your services, what are the requirements?

Our most popular service, the Pet Adoption Portal, is available to any organization. Many of our other services are available to non-profit organizations only, or those organizations that are in the process of obtaining their non-profit status. We provide services primarily to the US and Canada.

It sounds like you are an insider – has the RescueGroups.org team worked or volunteered for animal welfare organizations? How have you learned about the needs of these organizations, to create your many services?

All of our volunteers currently or have recently volunteered with rescues and shelters in their area, in positions like cat and dog fosters, coordinators, and directors. Our personal experiences have played a large part in building our services and features. However, listening to the rescues and shelters that are using our services is critical to making sure we stay align with the community we are serving.

Some services are for free like the Pet Adoption Portal, which I personally love and we implemented it to PackPeople as well. Would you please explain the benefits of the free pet management tool.

The Pet Adoption Portal service is designed to save organizations time by posting their adoptable pets on as many adoption listing websites as possible. The organizations update their pets on their RescueGroups.org pet list, and we send them to hundreds of websites like Adopt-a-Pet.com, DogTime, ASPCA, Facebook, Petbond and Petfinder using the Sync App.

As I already mentioned, another service you offer is to set up Facebook organization pages. What are some mistakes organizations make with Facebook pages?

A static Facebook page just isn’t going to grow and become more active. The biggest way organizations can improve their Facebook pages is to provide regular posts and discussion topics on their Facebook pages.

Could you describe the importance of a properly working email service for animal welfare organizations?

Email is a the preferred method of communication for most organizations. The majority of rescues and shelters don’t have a dedicated phone line, and don’t want to receive phone calls at their homes. Our email hosting and forwarding service helps organization separate their rescue and shelter email from their personal email, and gives the organization a more professional appearance, especially when setup on a domain name the organization owns.

From my own experience, I know that most rescues have huge e-mail lists, but don’t know how to use them effectively. What are the benefits of using your service?

It’s really important to communicate with your community, but you have to keep an up-to-date mailing list for your newsletters, events — which can be a big hassle. The RescueGroups.org Email Marketing service does all of that work for you — the organization creates an email message, and visitors can sign-up for various email lists. The system also handles unsubscribing and tracking campaign statistics.

I’m curious, who is behind RescueGroups.org? A bunch of animal lovers, developers and tech experts?

We’re all animal lovers. We all want to help rescues and shelters be more effective and find better ways to their work. Many of us have found a unique way for us to put our development, website and technology skills to work to help thousands of organizations.

Every animal welfare organization should join RescueGroups.org – what kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization?

We have done minimal marketing for our services. We have relied primarily on word-of-mouth, which brings in the majority of our new users. We do send an occasional mailing, but for the most part we let our great services and support do the work for us.

Your website is extremely informative, with a lot of content. As an average web user, would I understand your services without being a expert?

All of our services are designed to be used by rescue and shelter staff that do not have computer, HTML or database experience. However, we also provide access to advanced features like advanced website styles, custom HTML, data imports and exports, etc.

How many members do you already have using your services?

We currently have over 3,000 rescues and shelters using our services.

Speaking non-profit-to-non-profit… how do you pay your bills?

Our income comes from private donations and our service fees — about 50/50.

Who can join your team? Can I volunteer?

We’re always looking for volunteers! We can always use help with website design, data entry and lots of other things.

What do you need the most for your mission – and how can people get involved?

The best way to help us with our mission is to encourage everyone to sign-up for our services. Most of our new rescues and shelters come from word of mouth. Our current users should take a close look at possibly upgrading to one of our low-cost services as well.

In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?

Many people don’t know that tens of thousands of great pets die each month in shelters and rescues across the US and Canada. The majority of the pets in shelters have been, or would be great family pets and companions. It’s a shame that people are buying pets at pet stores when all kinds of dogs and cats are dying every day. And typically a shelter or rescued pet is healthier than a pet from a pet store.

If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?

The animal welfare community needs your help. Get involved with a local non-profit organization — most are looking for help with all kinds of things from fostering, transportation and even board members. The work is very rewarding… everyone should get involved!

Do you have pets of your own?

I do. My family has a 15 year-old Chocolate Lab named Amber, and a 7 year-old yellow Lab named Rex.

Which websites, pet-related links or books would you recommend to PackPeople?

One of my personal favorite websites is DogTime.com. And I would recommend that everyone read Nathan Winograd’s books, Redemption and Irreconcilable Differences.

By the way: Your values and ours are very similar – we have the same vision – we should work closely in the future! 

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