By Laura Williams-Tracy
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Last month, Patsy Beeker’s newly-organized Cabarrus CARES led a clinic that spayed and neutered about 500 cats and dogs, a two-day effort that likely will prevent the birth of as many animals as the local animal control authority euthanizes in a year.
Beeker was able to organize the clinic, along with many other projects focused on animal welfare, because a $25,000 grant from the George D. Patterson Fund allowed her to commit herself full-time to the cause.
“They gave me the gift of time,” says Beeker, a former administrative assistant with IBM who followed her heart to start an organization committed to helping animals.
Beeker’s organization, which stands for Coalition of Animal Rescue Efforts and Services, was one of nine nonprofits to garner a total of $111,773 this year from the Patterson Fund, which was established in 2001 to support groups focusing on animal welfare in the Charlotte region.
Groups receiving money from the Patterson Fund say philanthropic organizations that direct money toward animal welfare groups are few and far between, and their gifts help keep afloat efforts in animal welfare that are often overlooked for other worthy causes.
“It’s a bit of a unique niche,” says Shilpa Patel, assistant vice president for client services for Foundation for the Carolinas, which administers the Patterson Fund. “Other people have other focuses for their charitable giving.”
But Patel adds that there has been a shift within philanthropic giving beyond the traditional causes of healthcare and education toward causes such as the environment, and in some cases, animals.
The United States Equine Rescue League, which focuses on rescuing horses, donkeys and ponies in North and South Carolina, Virginia and Indiana, received $20,000 from the Patterson Fund for equine rehabilitation in the Mecklenburg County area.
“Most of the groups that do give to animal welfare are cat and dog groups,” says Krisann Blackwell, development director for the Equine Rescue League. “We really have to look at the fine print of grant opportunities.”
Blackwell says the organization also works to counter the misconception that everyone who owns horses has enough money to take care of them.
The Rescue League works with local agencies to identify horses, donkeys and ponies in need of rescue, offers feed, shelter and most expensive, the medical care to get rescued horses ready for adoption.
In its nine-year history the league has found new homes for over 200 horses and has more than 100 in its foster network.
“Whenever you have a large national disaster people obviously funnel their money to that immediate need,” Blackwell says. “We understand that you can’t put horses over people.”
Much of the organization’s money comes from private donations and fundraisers, such as benefit horse shows and recently, a new line of merchandise with the organization’s logo.
Beeker says hiring a professional nonprofit consultant who specializes in grant writing has helped her develop a list of potential donors to Cabarrus CARES.
Those donations benefit programs like Kitty City, part adoption center for vetted and altered cats, and part education center where school groups, scout troops, service organizations and the public can learn about responsible pet ownership.
Currently, Cabarrus CARES is pursuing a city community development grant because the organization goes into low-income neighborhoods to offer free spay and neutering clinics.
“We recommend getting someone who is strong and experienced in finding funding and incorporate your ideas to get that money,” says Beeker. “The money can be out there, but you have to have some help finding the appropriate things to apply for.”