Charities are everywhere. Television, radio, magazines and coffee shop information boards have a plethora of advertisements for charities with agendas from the political to the humanitarian.
I admit that I am a bit cynical about charities. Years ago, I worked for a few charities and found those ones to be very top heavy financially; the executives and the administrators took large chunks of the cash pie, leaving crumbs for those needing assistance. I understand that many large charities, like the Salvation Army, need well-qualified executives at the top. But others seem to be more about paying the top than helping the bottom.
So it was with a bit of a smirk that I received my class assignment: serve as an advocate for a nonprofit. This public relations project originally drew the jaded cynic out of me. My initial experience with the first charity I had planned to work with simply added to my experience. However, the founder of that charity backed out of the project and I was left with but minutes to present my professor with a new charity. That is when a frantic Internet search guided me to the Shakespeare Animal Fund.
In researching the fund, speaking to founder Jennifer Webb and speaking to people who have benefitted from the charity, I began to see that charities are very much like businesses, politicians and first dates; they need to be judged individually.
I was impressed that Webb moved Shakespeare out of its office on Keystone Ave. because the landlord began to charge rent and Webb did not want to take more money out of the charity’s fund.
I spoke to people who suffered serious medical problems and personal hardships. To compound their tribulations, their pets became ill. The Shakespeare Fund helped these people pay for their veterinary bills. One of the charity’s benefactors had no money to pay Shakespeare back, so she volunteered to help because she believed that the charity does something great for the community.
The Shakespeare Animal Fund has challenged me to rethink my somewhat negative view of charities. If I ever find evidence that a charity is abusing funds or not carrying out its promise to the community, I will make sure out community knows about it. But I now also feel a responsibility to tell Reno about charities that work hard to make our city a more humane place. They deserve to be heard.