Wednesday, 15 February 2017 13:34

Swift Current SPCA looking for board members

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If you have a passion for animals and want to use your skills to assist a community-funded animal shelter,  Swift Current SPCA officials would be happy to hear from you.

The Swift Current SPCA is looking for people with a variety of skills to join its volunteer board.
Swift Current SPCA President Susan McLaughlin said the non-profit organization not only needs more board members, but individuals with specific skills who can make a difference to achieve the shelter’s goals.
“We need more because we’re always running with less than the full compliment,” she mentioned. “That’s one aspect of why things are difficult, but the other thing is we are looking for specific skill sets.”
The shelter has been serving the Swift Current area since 1973. Every year it takes care of about 250 to 300 homeless and unwanted pets. Although it is a non-profit organization, it faces the same kind of challenges most businesses deal with on a daily basis and it needs to have people with a variety of skills on the board.
“We are a non-profit, but we deal with all the same things, all the same issues that businesses and big corporations have to deal with, whether it’s relating to the budget or the staffing, whether it’s contracts, whether it’s building maintenance,” she said. “Then on top of that of course we have the animal health issues, the veterinary and medical kind of issues, and we have a huge need to do strategic planning for the future. We want to build a stronger board in order to be able to tackle these things better than we have in the past.”
It will be helpful if there are some new board members with an understanding of governance and with previous board experience. It will also be useful to have people around the board table with a legal or accounting background, and knowledge about veterinary issues.
“We’re looking for people who are able to give careful consideration to some big topics, to engage in thoughtful, constructive discussion and hopefully recommend other resources that they might be aware of within the community,” she said. ”Some of the other skill sets that might not be as obvious to people, but would be very handy to us could include construction, risk management, human resources, project management, policy development, strategic planning, even fundraising.”
The board can have up to 15 members, but at the moment, there are only 10 directors and it has not been at full strength for many years.
“There’s a lot of questions that cross our desk every month and we do our best to make prudent decisions, but I think we could probably do a better job if we have some of these other skill sets,” she said.
During the past three years, the main focus of the board has been to address the financial stability of the shelter. McLaughlin is cautiously optimistic they have now reached a point where they can look to the future.
The two main priorities board members will deal with are financial sustainability and the shelter building.
“We’ve done some research into establishing a pet crematorium in conjunction with the shelter,” she said. “It will be housed out there on the same lot as the shelter and I think the idea is a solid one. ... There is not a similar service in the southwest of the province and so we’re hopeful this is the kind of project that would give us a small but steady stream of revenue in years to come.”
The current condition of the shelter building and whether to renovate the existing structure or build a new one is another key issue facing board members.
“It’s run to the end of its lifespan just about,” she said. “It is heavily used. ... Our dilemma as a board is that we’re evaluating do we renovate or do we build new. They’re both very big projects. It would be a big step for us as a board. So then you can see how those skill sets I mentioned earlier would be of benefit to us.”
The commitment requested from anyone who wants to join the Swift Current SPCA board will be a monthly board meeting, two member meetings every year and some committee work.
“We don’t have a lot of committees,” she said. “We try and do most things at the board meetings. There would definitely be some homework, some research, or maybe some work on your own that people could do and then bring the information back to the full board meeting.”
Board members are also requested to help out at some of the SPCA’s fundraising events in the community.
“We like people to participate in some of our fundraising as well to put a face to the board and to get out in the community,” she said. “We expect people to use their personal networks and their influence to help us reach even more people in the community.”
The organization’s annual general meeting will take place at 7 p.m. March 27 at the Swift Current SPCA bookstore. The term will then expire for a number of the existing board members.
Anyone who wants to be eligible for nomination to the board at this meeting will have to become a paid SPCA member by Feb. 27. A membership application form can be obtained at the shelter or the bookstore. The application form can also be downloaded from the Swift Current SPCA website at

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Matthew Liebenberg