Last updated: 25 Jul, 2023
Published on: 6 May, 2022
A guide to starting a rescue organisation
How to start a rescue organisation
A checklist brought to you by PetRescue.
You want to make an impact and save all the pets? That’s awesome! Our furry friends need more compassionate people like you.
Running a rescue can be so rewarding but before you get the zoomies with all the excitement, it’s important to take your time and set yourself up for success right from the start.
Below you’ll find a handy step-by-step guide of things that are vital to set your rescue up for success.
Your future self will thank you!
The business stuff
Governance and compliance type things that “future you” will thank you for!
Be across your state and federal Animal Welfare governing laws.
Did you know that every state in Australia has different information and requirements which will impact your rescuing and rehoming efforts?
Get advice and decide what type of organisation you will be.
This is very difficult to change later on so find out the benefits and barriers to becoming a registered charity, Social Enterprise, Not for Profit, Incorporated Association, No legal structure or Other.
If you’ve decided to be a charity;
Register as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC)
Establish a committee to oversee the governance of your organisation
Register for an Australian Business Number (ABN).
This is needed if you are going to conduct any ‘business’ legitimately as a rescue group - this includes being able to receive donations, receive payments of any kind, access tax and charity concessions, apply for grants, employ people, pay for services as a business etc
Create an initial business plan.
This document becomes your helpful guide to decision making. Define why you’re starting a rescue. What is the scope of the problem in your community, and how can you best address it? What are others doing? How can you work together? Why will the work you do be different? Choose a business name, something unique and memorable. How will you fund your rescue group so that your work can continue and have a long-lasting impact?
Define your health and wellbeing guidelines.
This guide can help outline how you’ll ensure the physical, mental and emotional well-being of animals in your care, along with how you’ll commit to keeping your volunteers and employees safe, both physically and mentally.
Research for Animal Health and Wellbeing: Begin researching the different ways that your rescue group will prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases to help keep the pets in your care safe. Having an intake and capacity plan will help guide how you’ll approach this before your intake quantity grows.
Take out public liability insurance.
It’s a vital investment. You’ll be seriously glad to have insurance cover for peace of mind if anything goes awry.
The privacy act is designed to protect individuals. Creating this policy will detail how you’ll take care of the personal information that you’ll be collecting and storing.
Get familiar with Fairwork.
If you are planning on having volunteers or employing people now or even in the future, check out this guide to be across the different types of legal arrangements.
Reserve a spot for your rescue’s online presence.
Do this sooner - it’s easier than needing to change a business name later (e.g. if your desired rescue group name is already being used). Purchase a domain name (even if you don’t have a website to link to yet), and create a free email that you can use to start (we recommend Google Mail - it’s free!). For now, reserve an Instagram account, Facebook account, TikTok account and Twitter handle (these are all free and you can sign up but set them up properly later).
Get started with pet listing and volunteer management tooling.
Now that you’ve completed the above and can be verified as a legitimate rescue group, you’re eligible for a membership and profile page on PetRescue! Be amongst a community who are working towards creating a future where every pet is safe, respected, and loved. Simply head to PetRescue.com.au to create your free account on PetRescue to start accessing an impressive gamut of pet adoption tools, support and resources created especially for the needs of rescue groups.
Want to help homeless pets without setting up a new rescue organisation?
There are lots of other ways you can help pets and support rescue groups and their awesome work.
Become a foster carer. Fostering a pet is so impactful! It helps prepare a pet for adoption by providing them with socialisation and basic training in a safe and comfortable environment, and frees up a space for the rescue group to help another pet. Read more about becoming a foster carer, and search our Foster Care Directory to find rescue groups in your area looking for foster heroes.
Volunteer. Rescue organisations are often looking for awesome volunteers in lots of different areas. This could include positions such as kennel hands, dog walkers, pet profile writers, social media gurus, admin and events folks, and more. Visit our Rescue Group Directory to find an organisation in your area looking for volunteers.
Donate food and goods. Donations of goods such as beds, blankets, and toys, as well as food for the pets in their care, are often needed by rescue groups. Visit our Rescue Group Directory to find an organisation near you in need.
Set up a food bank. One huge way you can help pets (and their humans) is by setting up a food bank. Getting pet food to folks in need can make a world of difference, and can even help to keep people and pets together during times of hardship. Here is some great advice and things to consider when setting up a food bank.
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Image by Blue Bird via Pexels.