Non-profit Organizations are groups that are operated for a public or mutual benefit rather than generating profits for their owners or shareholders. They are organized for a variety of reasons, from informal neighborhood associations, soup kitchens and local churches to labor unions, social welfare societies and museums to large universities and hospitals. However, despite differences in size and structure, nonprofits have five common characteristics: they are organized, private (separate from government), self-governing, non-profit distributing and voluntary. They may be registered as endowments, foundations, individual enterprises, trusts or some other legal entity as specified by state law.
Although they are not required to pay taxes, nonprofits must disclose financial and operating information to encourage donors to feel confident that their contributions are being spent effectively and fairly. This transparency in turn helps to create a sense of public responsibility that a nonprofit is accountable to its members, volunteers, founders and the community in general.
While some nonprofit organizations are largely volunteer-based, others are staffed with paid full and part-time employees, managers and directors. While there are advantages to this model, it is important to remember that even nonprofits with employee salaries must pay employment taxes and abide by workplace rules and regulations, just as for-profit businesses do. In addition, it is not uncommon for a nonprofit to hire consultants and other contractors to perform essential services that would be difficult or impossible for the organization to do itself.
In order to be tax-exempt, nonprofits must file for this status with the Internal Revenue Service and meet specific requirements set forth by the IRS code. The most common nonprofit types are those that operate under section 501(c)(3), which include corporations, funds and foundations that are operated exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, educational, literary or public safety purposes. Those that operate under other sections, such as 501(c)(7) – sports clubs and recreational associations, and 501(c)(4) – business leagues and trade associations, must further define their mission or area of activity in order to qualify for tax-exempt status.
Some of the most famous nonprofits include Amnesty International, which prevents human rights abuses; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which enhances global healthcare and promotes education; and UNICEF, which provides emergency relief to children worldwide. These and many other nonprofits play a vital role in the social fabric of our world, and they can only do so with the help of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
While the motivations for founding a nonprofit may differ, they all share a similar desire to serve a greater good in the community. In the past, federal governments often supported the creation of these services and programs through grants or funding. However, the twentieth century saw two major shifts that significantly reduced this role: a change in policy under President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” legislation and a sharp decrease in government support during the Reagan administration. As a result, nonprofit organizations have had to step up fundraising efforts and become more accountable for their finances and operations.
There are millions of dogs, cats, bunnies and other animals in need of loving homes all over the United States. If you’re considering adding a furry or scaly member to your family, consider adopting from a shelter or a rescued animal.
Alternatively, you can foster an animal until they’re ready for their forever home. Fostering is a great way to help an animal while also learning more about what it means to be a parent or guardian. Sydney and Alexandria, both 12, have fostered more than 25 animals! They say that “fostering is hard but very rewarding.”
Another great way to help animals is to support your local animal shelter or rescue. Shelters and rescues are always in need of volunteers with a variety of skills. You might be able to walk dogs, clean cages or spend one-on-one time with cats. Maybe you’re good at marketing animals online or organizing events. Or perhaps you want to work in veterinary medicine or learn how to train dogs.
You can also show your support by donating money to shelters and rescues. This allows them to focus on saving more lives and providing more individualized care. Your donation could pay for food, supplies, crates or even a full-time staff member.
When disaster strikes, HSUS relies on volunteer Animal Rescue Teams to help save animals in need. These volunteers travel from across the country to assist with large-scale animal cruelty cases, mass euthanasias, natural disasters and other crises. Volunteers report that assisting with these rescue missions is a life-changing experience. They learn new skills, undertake new challenges and travel to parts of the country they’ve never been before.
The people who work at shelters and rescue groups give their hearts to the animals in their charge, and they’re often overworked and stressed. A little something, like a thank you note or pizza, goes a long way to showing them how much they are appreciated. You can also get involved by promoting your local shelters and rescue groups on social media, visiting their sites, dropping off treats or supplies, fostering pets and more.
Many animals are victims of illegal pet trades, commercial breeding operations and other forms of cruel activity. You can help by educating others about the issues and encouraging them to make humane choices when choosing where they buy their pets. You can also take action by contacting your local and state officials to demand stronger laws against animal cruelty.
Farmed animals endure unimaginable suffering on factory farms. They are separated from their young a few hours after birth, live in cramped and unnatural spaces and are killed well before their natural lifespan. You can help by supporting animal welfare organizations that rescue farmed animals, and you can speak up when you see someone mistreating a stray or domestic animal.
Pet Adoption is an excellent way to bring a new furry family member into your life. Many shelters and rescue groups have healthy, loving pets waiting for their forever homes. They have a great selection of dogs and cats, but they also often have rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and other small mammals. They will examine and vaccinate the animal, spay or neuter them (if needed), and provide a number of other medical services before they are available for adoption. Many also conduct a detailed behavioral assessment to determine whether an animal will be compatible with your household.
The majority of pets in shelters are not strays; they have been surrendered by owners for various reasons. These include divorce, moving, lack of time to care for the pet, and financial constraints. Shelters are committed to finding loving homes for all of the animals that come into their care.
Adopters must agree to take the pet home for its entire life and be responsible for its well-being. This includes food, water, housing, veterinary care, grooming, exercise, and play. Most shelters require an initial visit to the veterinarian for a complete physical exam and any necessary vaccinations. Adopters may also be required to sign an agreement stating that they understand that the animal is their responsibility for life and must be returned to the shelter if the adopter can no longer care for it.
Once you have found the perfect pet, it’s important to introduce it to your home slowly. Be patient, and be sure to give lots of positive reinforcement. Many pets, especially younger ones, will need some re-training to adapt to their new routine and surroundings. You can use clicker training, obedience classes, or playtime with other family members to teach your pet proper behavior and establish a strong bond.
Most importantly, make sure that all family members, including any current pets, will get along with your potential new family member. That’s why most shelters and rescues require a meet-and-greet before adoption. This is a good opportunity for everyone in the family to get acquainted with a possible new addition and ask any questions that they might have.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in adopting a dog or cat has increased worldwide. This is likely due to the desire of people to add a new member to their families and increase the love and companionship they receive from their existing pets. During this difficult time, people are also reminded that there are other sources of dogs and cats beyond their own backyards, such as municipal animal shelters or local humane societies. This increase in demand can result in overcrowding, which could lead to the euthanasia of healthy animals that are not adopted.