In the past four weeks we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of community care and support from individuals, businesses and community organizations. Generous gifts have come from right here in our community and from as far away as Queensland, Australia. People have shown their support in many ways. Our “Nest” staff held a bake sale, some donors have signed up for monthly donations through bank draft, and many others have sent checks ranging from $25, $100, $500 to $5,000. In this short time, we’ve received more than $62,000 in donations, which is almost enough to cover two entire summer months of Center operations. One of our long time donors has given us a gift of a financial consultant to review our operations and determine if there is a way to more efficiently use our limited financial resources.
Our fundraising efforts, however, can’t stop here, because the animal care doesn’t. It’s 24/7, every day of the year with wildlife.
Our estimated cost of operations is $240,000 each year, with the bulk of this cost incurred from May to October. There’s a broad combination of factors that drive that cost annually.
For those of you familiar with the work of the Center, you know that birds, animals and reptiles arrive on a somewhat predictable schedule. What is not predictable is the number of wildlife animals we receive. Changes in weather patterns, the volume of development in the area, and the number of people who know we exist and are willing to rescue make budgeting and scheduling a challenge. This has been one of those unpredictable years. Opossums arrived early and birds arrived before the interns. Now, if squirrels arrive late, the interns will have left to go back to school. Hopefully we will have enough new volunteers and fosters to cover the season.
Our next big season comes with the hatching of chimney swifts and the births of baby squirrels. As “pinky” squirrels begin to arrive, we must know that we have the financial resources to provide care to them for the 12 weeks it will take to raise them until they can be released.
Dedicated staff, 24/7
During the spring and summer months the Center operates with a paid staff of 16 to 18 caretakers. They are assisted by 5 to 6 student interns and up to 12 active volunteers. Work starts each day with the morning shift at 7:00 a.m. The morning shift is relieved at 4:00 p.m. by the evening shift, which works until the last of the animals have been fed, the “nest” has been thoroughly cleaned, and food prepared for the next morning. This schedule repeats itself seven days a week.
Rising food costs
The second highest expense in our budget is food cost. While this is a great opportunity for donations, the cost to the Center for food still grows every year. For essential items like mealworms, which we purchase 100,000 at a time, the cost has increased 20%. In June alone we spent over $1,800 on mealworms to feed birds, mammals and reptiles. Even with donations of food, our food cost can exceed $8,000 per month.
We have also been forced this year to deal with years of deferred maintenance and repairs. The facility known as the “Nest” is showing its age and use. Issues with plumbing, electrical and the heating and cooling system of the main building have all required attention and money. All of the out buildings are in a constant state of refurbishment due to weather and use. Most of our appliances were secondhand when we received them, and while we love giving them a second life serving our wildlife mission they are in use all day, seven days a week, and are very inefficient. As a result, they are running our utility bills through the roof.
Caring for more than 3,500 injured and orphaned wildlife animals each year is a challenge. Doing this with unpredictable financial resources is a struggle. Both are challenges we accept gratefully for the sake of the wildlife animals for which we care. Without your financial support and the donations of others, many of these animals would surely not survive.
Other ways you can help:
Learn more about wildlife rescue.
• Learn when to rescue vs. when to leave animals alone.
• 30% of the animals we care for should never have been rescued, stretching our limited resources even farther.
Call us to volunteer. Among others, here’s a short list of the many ways you can help.
• Online volunteers to spread our message.
• Home based volunteers who can do food prep and laundry.
• Foster volunteers to raise baby squirrels and opossums.
• Center volunteers helping with feeding, changing and cleaning.
• Workday volunteers to build and repair aviaries and enclosures.
• Education volunteers
• Event volunteers
Create your own Carolina Wildlife Center fundraisers to collect funds, food and supplies.
• Birthday parties: Many folks over the years have hosted birthday parties and asked for donations to CWC in lieu of personal gifts. This is a great way to raise funds and supplies, as well as educate the children and adults about our work. Kids love it!
• Host a function in your home: We’d love to talk to you about hosting an event in your home. It’s a great way to share what we do with friends, and to broaden our circle of donors. Just give us a call and we can tell you more about the things we can do to make hosting an event easy.
Thanks…. If you have ideas and would like to share, give us a call at 803-772-3994 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your love and appreciation for wildlife with others.