Avian Welfare Resource Center from the The Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) is a grassroots network of representatives from avian welfare, animal protection, and humane organizations dedicated to the ethical treatment and protection of birds living in captivity and in their natural habitats. The mission of the AWC is to prevent the abuse, exploitation, and suffering of captive birds, and to address the crucial issues of rescue, placement, and sanctuary for displaced birds. The AWC also supports efforts to insure the survival of wild birds and the conservation of their natural habitats.



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Nonprofit Organizational Development

by Craig Brestrup, Secretary, The Association of Sanctuaries (TAOS)

Nonprofits usually evolve in a similar fashion, although some take only a few years to make the major changes while others may take 10–20. They begin when a few citizens become concerned about a problem in their community and recruit others to work with them to change it. Working as volunteers they take in strays, feed feral cats, rescue exotic birds, advocate with government or community organizations to provide better services for children, or they aim at some other social problem or cultural deficiency that they wish to remedy.

Unless the issue is sufficiently circumscribed to be readily resolvable so that the concerned individuals can declare their aims accomplished and cease their efforts, the range, demands, or complexity of the work in time leads to recognition that paid staff and/or professionals are necessary if they are to provide the necessary services or meet the needs of the organization. Sometimes when this point is reached the organization will split or be temporarily divided between those who wish to retain the informality of the original all-volunteer group and those who think that more organization, professionalism, and other resources are necessary to success. Naturally, when staff are employed they have to be paid, and when others have been working as volunteers, many of them at great cost in their own time and resources, they sometimes resent the change and assume that if someone is paid to do the work he/she must not care as much or be as committed as the volunteers or, worse, that he/she is exploiting the situation for personal gain.

Volunteerism is an admirable quality of individuals and of our culture; there seems to be more of it in the U.S. than in most other developed countries, perhaps because there is greater need for it here where the individualist focus so often leads to isolation and social casualties. At any rate, people who have given greatly of themselves as volunteers deserve our respect and gratitude. And at the same time they must recognize that in many, if not most, areas of social change the time comes when consistency, quality, and progress in service delivery necessitates paid staff. That an organization reaches this point and that the organization is strong enough to gather the resources to pay a staff are testament to the irreplaceable work of those original volunteers. They are still needed to serve on Boards of Directors and to assist staff in a variety of time-limited and important ways, but a sign of their accomplishment is that the organization has become independent and sustainable and can rely on its staff, in collaboration with volunteer Boards, to ensure that the Mission will continue to be pursued and that standards will be maintained. Commitment to the Mission has not lessened; it has just evolved into a new form.

In light of these considerations, the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) and The Association of Sanctuaries (TAOS) support member animal care organizations in their continued development towards professionalism, sustainability, and accountability while ensuring that an organization's mission is fulfilled. Such growth necessarily includes the hiring of paid staff at fair and competitive salaries and wages and providing employee benefits. AWC and TAOS encourage these practices in order to increase the long-term stability of member organizations, which is prerequisite to pursuit of their Mission in increasingly skilled and effective ways over the long term.

All material Copyright © 2002–2010 Avian Welfare Coalition, unless otherwise noted. Contact us to request reprint permission.

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