The Richmond SPCA was chosen by the readers of Virginia Living magazine as the Best Charity in the Central Region in the results of their 2016 Best of Virginia issue. It is a remarkable statement about this wonderful organization and makes us very proud and grateful.
There are many great charitable organizations in central Virginia and they do a wide variety of crucial things that provide essential services and improve the quality of life for many. It is, of course, truly impossible to say which is the best since a lot of that analysis is highly subjective and depends on a person’s own perspective on what matters and what is good. After 19 years of running a non-profit, I know that people’s devotion to any charitable endeavor is based to a high degree on their own personal life experiences. We all see what matters and what is “best” through our own personal lens of experience and often hardships. If you have watched a beloved family member suffer with cancer, you probably support institutions that work to find a cure. If you or a loved one has suffered with depression or addiction, you probably support organizations that help people with those same challenges. And, if you have experienced the crucial joy, love and companionship that animals bring to our lives, you probably support animal welfare.
This wonderful recognition does bring one important point into sharp focus for me. It is clear that people all over Virginia care deeply about saving the lives of animals and regard the work of the Richmond SPCA as being very important. Many people not only believe that the Richmond SPCA does high quality work but they also believe that our work for animals truly matters and should be a priority in terms of receiving support.
I wish that more institutional donors would recognize this. Many large corporations will not give us any of their otherwise generous charitable support and, when we ask for their help, we are often told that animal welfare is not on their list of giving areas (with no explanation for why not). Similarly, while there are some family foundations that are extremely supportive of and generous to us, many foundations will not provide any significant support to animal welfare organizations. Animal welfare receives only about 1% of the charitable dollars given in this country and the vast majority of that support comes from people, not from institutional donors.
Every person and every organization certainly may choose his, her or its own giving priorities, but, if corporations are considering what most of their customers and shareholders likely deem to be important, they are missing the mark by excluding animal welfare organizations from their giving priorities. Similarly, many large foundations seek to strengthen their communities and improve lives with their giving. That being the case, they should realize that people truly care about the protection and well-being of animals and that animals play a very important and much needed role in people’s lives.
The Virginia Living readers’ selection of the Richmond SPCA as the best charity in our region means more to us than I could ever adequately express. We are honored that they think so highly of the quality of our work and deeply rewarded that they think we are such a valuable part of our state’s charitable network of support. But, perhaps, the most wonderful thing about this lovely recognition is the confirmation it provides that the people of our state believe that saving and protecting animals is crucially important. So do we.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.