FAAS Develops New Three-Year Strategic Plan

When Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) was founded in 2009 to raise funds for the city-run animal shelter, nobody anticipated that a short three years later the organization would enter into a partnership with the city to operate the shelter in a public-private partnership. FAAS took over the shelter just over two years ago and has made significant progress in enhancing programs and services for Alameda’s homeless animal population.

With day-to-day operations stabilized, the FAAS board of directors saw the need to create a long-term vision and a short-term strategic plan to guide future development. A grant enabled the board to engage professional consultants who helped the board create a plan that is based on extensive input from members of the community.

The long-term vision is for a new facility, designed around the needs of the animals that also serves as a community resource to provide educational programs.

To start working toward that vision, three shorter-term goals were identified to be accomplished over the next three years:

Refine programs to enhance animal care and increase community awareness and literacy of animal welfare issues.

Remodel volunteer programs to increase engagement, effectiveness and satisfaction.

Invest in organizational infrastructure to build long-term sustainability.

Programs

FAAS’s first and highest priority is to deliver high-quality care to every animal that crosses its threshold. FAAS is committed to growing and improving current programs that support that care, including animal intake, adoption and rescue, animal behavior and training, our Pet Food Pantry for low-income pet owners and our Pet Loss Support Group.

With the increasing density and population of Alameda, FAAS knows the organization needs to be prepared to support increased numbers of pets in the community, as well as serve as their advocates by playing a role in local policy and advocacy that affects animals and pets in Alameda. The three-year objectives in this area are:

Expand current programs as need arises, capacity allows and revenues can support it.

Design and implement new behavior and training programs for shelter animals to increase their chances of adoption and improve their quality of life during their stay at FAAS.

Showcase FAAS programs to the community to promote greater participation and awareness.

Develop an advocacy and policy program for pets in Alameda and surrounding communities.

Volunteers

Volunteers are a critical part of FAAS’s success to date and will be increasingly critical as FAAS expands in coming years. While volunteers are passionately committed to the organization, FAAS has only just scratched the surface in developing comprehensive volunteer recruitment, training and engagement programs. In the next three years, FAAS will build the infrastructure and staff capacity to serve volunteers more effectively so that in turn, they can provide critical animal care and administrative support to the organization.

In its first two years, the all-volunteer FAAS board of directors necessarily was entrenched in the daily operations of FAAS as the organization transitioned from the city and established its independent structure. Recognizing that organizations need different types of leadership in different stages of the organizational lifecycle, the board will dedicate itself in the next three years to focus on bringing funds to the organization, building community support and visibility and ensuring the effective use of resources for maximum impact. The three-year objectives in this area are:

 Develop a plan for improving volunteer experience and effectiveness at FAAS based on best practices.

 Build capacity to deliver appropriate training for all volunteers to handle animals properly and provide education on animal welfare issues.

 Create mechanisms to measure volunteer satisfaction and provide volunteer appreciation.

 Build effective channels for volunteer recruitment, orientation and ongoing communication.

 Expand the board of directors to 15 members and ensure that all board members are visible ambassadors for FAAS in the community.

Organizational Infrastructure

No organization can successfully deliver on its mission without a solid infrastructure from which to operate. FAAS currently operates with a very lean staffing structure, with several staff members playing multiple roles and responding to urgent animal care needs outside of their administrative duties.

To make necessary investments in staff, FAAS will ramp up fundraising and communications efforts. This includes pursuing new grants with foundation and corporate prospects, building a planned giving program to enable people to bequest portions of their estate and creating communications in a variety of channels to grow its contributed income.

With a new facility some years ahead, FAAS must maximize the use of its current facilities. As FAAS is able to secure city approval, financial resources or pro bono support, the organization will make improvements to the city’s facility, such as signage, landscaping and painting. These investments will serve to make the shelter a more welcoming environment while FAAS builds toward a greater facility-expansion plan. The three-year objectives in this area include:

 Add paid or volunteer staff in marketing, volunteer engagement, animal care and behavior, and operations.

 Build a solid and diverse fundraising program with staff and volunteer support.

 Design a communications program that promotes FAAS’s impact in the community.

 Improve current facilities to make the shelter a more welcoming, friendly space for humans and animals alike.

 Invest in IT and systems development to support staff efficiency.

A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. This three-year plan will move us considerably closer to our ultimate goal of an animal resource center for Alameda that is the envy of surrounding communities and a national model for community-oriented animal welfare.

Mim Carlson is the excutive director of FAAS. She can be reached at mim.faas@gmail.com.