SPCA - How we fund a better future for the animals
With less than 5% Government funding, keeping a national charity operating and setting it up to continue into the future is no easy feat – it requires strategy, planning and a focus on where the most impact can be made over the long term. Hear from SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen to understand more about how we fund a better future for the animals.
This year, SPCA commemorates 150 years of operating in New Zealand – through changing times and changing mindsets in relation to how we, as humans, should care for our animals. From the days of operating as separate entities where our founding focus was to protect working horses – to now, when we’re a national network and can advocate for legislative change and help to educate future generations about animal care. We’ve come a long way, and how we fund SPCA has too.
Andrea Midgen explains more about how we are trying to future-proof New Zealand’s oldest and largest animal welfare charity.
“We have 32 Centres across the country and over 30,000 animals coming through our doors each year,” says MsMidgen. “This shelter side of our work is largely what the public knows us for, but it is really only the tip of the iceberg in regards to what SPCA does for animal welfare in New Zealand.
“SPCA is the only charity with the power to prosecute people under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, through our Inspectorate services. We need $60 million to operate each year and we receive just $2.5m from the government, which is earmarked for the Inspectorate – which costs more than $12 million annually. This means the cost of caring for 30,000 animals each year, running our Centres, the majority of our Inspectorate, and our desexing services is paid for through donations from the public.”
“It is also so important to note that much of our work aims to prevent animal welfare issues being a problem in the future – and therefore reducing the animals that ever need our help in SPCA Centres. Our costs include funding an exceptional science team who do a massive amount of work behind the scenes to introduce and encourage best practice animal welfare, and are leading advocates for animal welfare legislation.
“We also have an education team who produce resources for school-aged children and have just launched a new programme teaching pre-schoolers about caring for animals. We have just now developed and supplied our fourth series of school readers to every primary school in New Zealand free of charge. The first two series of readers are available in hard copy in te reo Māori as well as English, with translation of the third and fourth series is currently underway. In addition, series one and two are available digitally in Samoan, Tongan and Mandarin, and available for teachers to access. These translations make the books even more accessible and engaging to Kiwi kids, and an invaluable tool to schools around the country. And we run a Certified programme which aims to increase animal welfare standards for food producers and doggy daycares.”
So how is this all funded - what is the breakdown?
“We prioritise our spending according to where we know we can have the greatest impact,” continues Ms Midgen. “We have statutory accounts required of us as a Tier 1 charity in New Zealand. This follows a regulatory format, which we have to adhere to and therefore doesn’t offer, without further analysis, an end-to-end picture of our operational spending.
“In terms of ‘Animal expenses’ – these are the pure expenses for keeping the animals cared for, such as external vet costs, drugs, food and flea treatments. This is a figure often put to us as a question as people are not quite sure how it is only 8% of our costs, but without explanation it can be taken out of context. Direct animal expenses made up $6.4 million of our costs last year, so this in itself is no small cost – and one that would be more if it wasn’t for our generous partner Purina providing food for our animals.
“We have increased our work in desexing and microchipping services offered around the community with our successful Snip ‘n’ Chip programmes. We desexed around 28,000 animals in the last financial year. This expense category also includes the nearly $1.5 million that SPCA spent on community (external) desexing programmes. We just launched a SPCA Desexing Grant, which will fund community projects up to $10,000 (including the cost of microchips and registrations on the Companion Animal Register NZ).
“Outside of animal costs, there are so many other areas that are fundamental to keeping us running and delivering our services; health & safety, vehicle costs, lease costs, cleaning, insurance, Information Technology, prosecution costs, our people’s salaries (which are on par with other charity roles) – as well as recruitment and training costs. All of which are scrupulously reviewed each year and have external auditing eyes over them too to ensure we’re compliant and responsibly spending our generous funds from the public.”
“When it comes to looking at our finances – which are reported annually – it can often be a confusing picture for the public. Especially when they see things like a surplus which has been the case recently. This surplus is a result of the former Auckland SPCA Trust (a separate entity) gifting SPCA money to support the ongoing sustainability of SPCA. We forecast that it will soon cost us more than $65 million a year to operate (an increase of $8 million on current costs) and we will be spending a significant portion of this surplus on a new Centre build in South Auckland, which is much needed to ensure our animals are cared for into the future, as our Māngere Centre ages and becomes increasingly ill-suited for the animals’ needs. Once these funds have been expended, SPCA’s reserves will be less than four months cover of the expenses each year. Good practice across charities is to have six to twelve months’ worth of reserves available to help manage through challenging times.
“Having funds in reserve and earmarked for big, upcoming projects is as simple as being responsible and planning ahead for an organisation of our scale. It’s this forward-planning which has enabled SPCA to be here for 150 years and counting. There must be surety of ongoing operations so we can continue to be a strong support network for animals in future years.”
And how does SPCA support other rescue groups, facing similar issues and challenges?
“SPCA is here to help and support these animal rescue group organisations to the best of our ability, including providing veterinary care, flea and worm treatment, food and desexing – noting that we are a charity as well, and the dollars only go so far. With Government funding, we could do so much more.
“We recognise that all animal shelters in New Zealand, including SPCA, are struggling with high numbers of companion animals who need help. The problem of companion animal overpopulation is a large and complex societal issue that cannot be solved by just one organisation nor addressed with just a single course of action. It is important that animal shelters and society work together towards our common goal to improve the welfare of animals.”
You can view our latest Financial Report here and keep an eye out for the year ending 31 June later in the year.