Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Residual Bucket Number Three

Last month, I published a blog column titled, 'Pay Attention To What's In Bucket Number Two.'  The whole point of that blog column was to answer a question we've been asked many times over the past "almost" 4 years since launching Bodacious Biscuit Love.

"If someone wanted to do this, or start a rescue or other organization to help animals, how would they go about doing that? Where do you start?"

It's a general question. As quoted from the first blog column addressing this question...

"One would think this is an easy question to answer, however, that's not the case. There is no way to pack it into a nutshell because the answer falls into two buckets. Bucket one would supply all of the necessary components like launching (making your debut), marketing, social media (setting up your Facebook page), legalities, funding, growing your contact list, booking events, advertising, creating a website/blog site, etc.

Bucket one is the foundation of sorts. These are components you need to have in place. It takes a decent amount of planning to establish your foundation. Exactly how long does it take before you can make your debut? That depends on the area of focus, what you're going to be doing, how many people will be involved, and if you plan on growing your volunteer base as time goes on. Each item in bucket one will vary. Regardless of how many hours you spend planning your route, this is your foundation.

The second bucket is the cement that secures your foundation. In bucket two you'll find tidbits of candid advice, guidance, roadblocks, the-things-no-one-likes-to-talk-about, and in-the-raw questions that you need to take into consideration before and while contending with the components in bucket one."

The blog column I mentioned and linked at the beginning of this post addresses bucket one and bucket two.

After running Bodacious Biscuit Love for almost 4 years, I've learned there is a third bucket. It's a bucket that sits in the darkest corner because no one wants to talk about it. Acknowledge it. Admit it's even there. It's all the stuff you let roll down your back. It's the battles that didn't make the "choose your battles wisely" cut. It's all the times you've sent courteous emails when all you wanted to do was put it bluntly. It's the stuff that could easily cause your mission to spiral downward really quick. It's the stuff you need to evaluate weekly or monthly because it's too easy to bite off more than you can chew.

1. Don't let the sacrifices you make get out of control. With any organization, rescue, or whatever else you're doing to help animals in need, you'll be making sacrifices. Lisa and I did. We still do. What has changed over the past few years, more so over the past year, is the number of sacrifices we make. There was a time when Lisa and I were running ourselves ragged delivering biscuits, both orders and complimentary, all over the state of Connecticut. Lisa would get home from work and take off 10 minutes later and not return until 8 or 9 p.m. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

We got to the point where we had to cut back. Make changes. Lisa's position and work hours changed at work, our family got bigger, and we needed to utilize our weekends for home and family stuff. We're in a much better position now, but that involved making those changes. A lot of people weren't happy with those changes. However, we needed to restore balance and do what was in the best interest of our family.

Regardless of your mission or the type of organization you run or volunteer for, you need to take care of you, your significant other or spouse, your family, your well being. That needs to be a priority.

2. An issue with one person is like a tiny snowball that rapidly turns into an avalanche. Let's say you're friendly with an organization, a rescue group, a private business, or a group of people who hang out together all the time. One of the people within that group does something that pisses you off or rubs you the wrong way. You address the issue with that person. It doesn't matter how appropriately you confront them, more than likely, within a relatively short period of time, the entire organization, business, rescue group, etc., will "have a problem with you."

To take things a step further, the people within this person's group, organization, business, etc., will tell their friends and family. Before you know it, you've got a large mass of people who simply despise your existence and will snub you in public, treat you differently, not look up to say hi when you walk into their establishment, or they will no longer support your mission.

This has happened to us on more than one occasion. My way of dealing with this is simple. I said what I had to say and I chose my words wisely. That's all I am responsible for. Their reaction is not my problem. If they want to embrace the middle and high school mentality, so be it.

3. Not everyone will respect the honor system. We wanted to believe that people wouldn't order biscuits or claim a DIY Dog Mom Project and not follow through with payment. What very little money we earn is spent on ingredients, supplies, and to cover shipping costs so we can spread the biscuit love and make care packages for pet parents in need. Over the years, adhering to the honor system has made us an easy target for some. And, it hasn't been with only the people we don't know.

I've lost count how many times I've had to send an email or message to someone informing them that it's been a week or two and we haven't received payment. I get that life happens. You might forget to put the check in the mail. However, when it's time and time again and several weeks go by accompanied with various excuses...nope. That's not okay.

Although we've made changes here and there to prevent this, it's still happening. We're about ready to eliminate the honor system.

4. Growing pains. They're inevitable. You learn as you go. Growing pains are never easy and sometimes, they're hard lessons to learn. However, they're also great opportunities to make adjustments and overall changes. On the flip side, not everyone is going to like the changes you make, but you have to learn how to deal with that. We made a lot of substantial changes last year and a lot of people weren't happy about them. The people who were not happy about these changes were part of the reason why we had to make these changes. In the long run, thing ran a lot smoother on our end and the people who were pissy about the changes moved on.

5. Biting off more than you can chew. I have seen this happen a lot with rescue groups. They take in too many animals and their funds for medical costs run out or there are not enough foster homes. Even with a request for donations or fosters, it may not be enough. The same thing can happen with non-rescue organizations. On a few occasions, we've gone beyond our out of pocket budget with spreading the biscuit love, Bodacious Raffle Baskets, purchasing items for local shelters, etc.

Over the years, as our family and living expenses have grown, the amount of out of pocket money we're able to invest has decreased. In 2013, we had one pup kid. Now, we have 4. In addition, we pulled a couple of our displays and we shared our Bodacious Peanut Butter Dog Treat recipe. We don't have the bodacious funds that we had a couple of years ago. We're realistic about it. We have a very small, strict budget and we stick to it.

6. Pleasing the masses. You will never please the masses. When this becomes your focus, as it was mine for over 3 years, you lose yourself. It sucks. It'll wear you out. It's exhausting. I could kick myself in the ass for losing my voice (a writer's term), heavily editing what I write and post, not putting my foot down with a lot of things, and nodding my head and smiling when I really wanted to put someone in their place. I will never get stuck in that vicious cycle again.

7. It's okay to say no. If you can't do it, don't. This can include anything from taking in an extra litter of kittens to launching your third fundraiser in a week's time. We're all human. While we want to help every animal in need and provide the funds to assist with the care of animals, we simply can't. It's not possible. Do what you can, when you can.

8. Ditch the excuses. A couple of years ago, a rescue group requested a Bodacious Raffle Basket via email. I wrote back and said, "Absolutely!" I also included a few days and the times towards the end of the week when they could pick up the raffle basket. The email ended with, "Please let me know what day and time you'll be here to pick up the basket."  A little over 2 weeks later, I got an email that said, "What time can I pick up the raffle basket today?"

After pacing around our home for about an hour and venting to Lisa because I was pissed, I wrote back. I let her know that I didn't have a raffle basket made and the reasons why. I didn't hear back from her after my initial reply. It's not my responsibility to send out email reminders and chase after people who request raffle baskets. And last, I informed her that making our raffle baskets takes time because we have to shop for items to fill the baskets. They're not something I can throw together on a whim.

We exchanged a few more emails. She wasn't happy, but that wasn't my problem. Failure to reply and lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

9. Be careful who you make friends with. Not everyone is on your side. Not everyone will speak kindly of you behind your back or defend you.  People will drop you like flies. They'll promise you a rose garden and end up delivering a steaming pile of runny dog shit. They'll keep you around until they have no use for you. They'll judge. They'll only call or show up when they need something. They'll be incapable of separating their opinion of you or personal issues from your mission. They'll snub you in public when things get sour. The way you're treated when you walk into their place of business will shift. And sometimes, they'll flat out try to sabotage you.

10. Ignore the internet trolls. They're everywhere. It doesn't matter what you post, what you make, how much you do, how many local shelters you've helpd out, or the number of animals you've rescued, the internet trolls will be there to pass judgment and criticize. Ignore them. Give them the proverbial middle finger. Personally, I don't have time for those who are continuously part of the problem and not part of the solution.

11. People forget you're human. Everyone needs a break. Life happens. You're not always going to be at your best. At times, you'll have to distance yourself. You won't always be able to meet people's demands right then and there. You won't always be able to give 100%. You know what? That's okay. When people criticize you for being human, it's still okay. They'll get over it.

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