cloudninerescueflights : October 2, 2012 9:07 pm : Uncategorized
In addition to providing you with status updates on our fundraising, we’ve decided to also answer your pet-related questions weekly. The intent is for it to keep focused on hypothetical pet-related questions, but all questions will be considered. If this is popular and our fans want us to keep this going, we will continue to do so after the fundraiser. We’ll be more encouraged to do so if this helps us raise money, so keep those donations coming in! To ask a question, simply visit our website by clicking our logo in the header or footer of this email and contact us, or reply to this email. Questions don’t need donations with them to be answered, but it certainly would be appreciated!
We start off with a ‘What If?’ question that a coworker’s daughter asked me earlier this week: Can a ghost dog save a real dog?
Children come up with great questions.
First, we must answer the question of whether or not ghost dogs exist. Traditionally, we don’t hear about ghost dogs, just ghost humans. These lost souls are forced to wander the earth aimlessly in purgatory, as they were neither sent to Heaven nor Hell. This is how we end up with ghost humans haunting places like graveyards and the DMV.
Dogs don’t fall into this category. All dogs go to heaven, as all dogs are good, exempting them from purgatory. There are no bad dogs, only bad humans. Therefore, there are no ghost dogs.
What about an angel dog, that has gone to Heaven and chooses to return to Earth to help living dogs?
Yes, Virginia, there are angel dogs, and they do come back to Earth to help the living dogs.
We rarely see the documentation of this (this would be intentional, as angel dogs don’t wish to be seen or heard), but we do have evidence of it. You may recall that several years ago, a dog pulled another dog off a busy highway in Chile, after he had been hit by a car, ultimately saving his life:
This hero dog disappeared after saving his fellow canine, and was never seen nor heard from following this event. Truly an angel dog in disguise.
So what is your ‘What If?’ question that we can answer next week?
cloudninerescueflights : October 2, 2012 9:06 pm : Uncategorized
Last week, I wrote about where Cloud Nine’s funding comes from, and made the point that, despite what some people have believed over the years, I do not simply pay for all of this out of my own pocket, nor am I able to. With Cloud Nine’s annual operating budget being over $100,000 per year, there are few individuals who could afford to do this on their own. Your donations are what make it possible for Cloud Nine to keep performing its mission of saving homeless pets around the country.
That said, I am not only Cloud Nine’s Founder, President, and Chief Pilot, but I am also a donor to Cloud Nine, and have been since the beginning. Let me explain.
Back in 2009 when I started Cloud Nine, I truly did not know if it would succeed or fail. The economy was poor, and non-profit organizations were closing left and right. It was truly a bad time to start a non-profit organization. I did the research on my own to formulate a business plan (non-profits need business plans, too) and then used my money to start Cloud Nine with the incorporation costs and filing the 501(c)3 paperwork with the IRS (which isn’t cheap – they charge $750 and provide no guarantee that you will receive your status). I made Cloud Nine’s original website myself. It’s worth noting it didn’t take long for someone to volunteer to make a new web page – I am not a very good web designer. I also purchased the Piper Aztec that Cloud Nine used from its inception up until the end of last year as its primary plane.
Starting out, I was Cloud Nine’s largest benefactor, and would remain that way for some time, with no intent of ever being repaid. The intent, though, was to move away from me paying for as much as I was, because it simply wasn’t sustainable. The same holds true today. Just like everyone else, my life outside of Cloud Nine has its financial ups and downs, and relying on me for funding I knew would be a guaranteed means of failure.
The plan worked, and with your help we’ve been able to keep Cloud Nine’s operations going for over 3 years. That doesn’t mean that my donations stopped immediately, though.
Throughout Cloud Nine’s time, there have been expenses that have come up that I’ve covered as needed. Sometimes this has meant paying for fuel because our credit card type isn’t accepted at the fuel stop. Sometimes this has meant paying for some small repair to the airplane that Cloud Nine hasn’t had the money for. I structure these as loans, but the reality is that, come December 25th, I give Cloud Nine a Christmas present – and that is loan forgiveness. This amount varies depending on the year, but ends up being several thousand dollars. I do this for the same reason you make your donation to Cloud Nine – because I believe in the cause. However, this bucket is limited, and has bounds. We asked for your help last year when we needed some flight instruments in Sugar Pop repaired because the costs were $15,000 – the most significant cost we’d had at the time. The reality is that we try to have savings for these sorts of items when they come up, but we often times aren’t able to have as much of a cushion as we’d like. This comes from a combination of low donations and not having sufficient time to save up for some of the large recurring expenses on aircraft such as engines and avionics upgrades.
Cloud Nine never has paid me for my time, either, which has been an extensive donation. I put my Commercial Pilot Certificate to work for Cloud Nine. For any other person or company, this would be $300 per day that I would get paid. For Cloud Nine, it’s free. The flight time is really the smallest amount of my time investment to Cloud Nine. Early on, Cloud Nine was taking up 40-60 hours of time per week for me, on top of the 40 hours per week at my normal day job. These days it has tapered down somewhat, and a typical week involves 10-40 hours per week of time invested. I have spent many weeks away from home for Cloud Nine (in 2010, I spent greater than 6 months away from my home), and for several years sacrificed having any personal life to the cause of Cloud Nine.
Today, Cloud Nine needs your help more than ever. We are faced with having the greatest expense since our inception – needing a total of $60,000 to purchase new engines for Sugar Pop, our Cessna 310. These engines will not only return us to service, but have several noted improvements over our previous engines, that we expect will make Sugar Pop faster and safer, improving the range of missions we can perform. Yes, I will be making a personal donation towards the engine fund and returning Cloud Nine to operations. In the past two years saving for Sugar Pop’s engines, we’ve saved half of that with your help. With your continued help, we’ve made a substantial impact in the remaining $30,000, but still have a long ways to go. Please make your donation today at www.cloudninerescueflights.org/donate
cloudninerescueflights : October 2, 2012 9:05 pm : Uncategorized
As you know, Cloud Nine Rescue Flights is currently in the midst of our largest fund raiser to date. We have been forced to suspend operations due to our engines no longer being able to pass their required inspections, and must overhaul them before we can continue our mission of saving the lives of homeless animals around the continent. We’re been asking for your donations to help us raise our current need of $30,000 out of the required $60,000. Since we knew this was coming, we’ve been working on raising money for the past two years, and have raised half of the total money we need, a significant accomplishment. With your help with our current plea, we’ve raised $3,000 over the past two weeks. To all those who have donated so far, thank you!
I wanted to write a little bit about how Cloud Nine is funded. Over the years, I’ve found several common misunderstandings about where our funding comes from. I believe that it’s your right, as our supporters, to understand some more about how we do what we do, and more specifically, where our money does NOT come from.
Misconception 1: Ted just pays for this all out of his own pocket
I hear this misconception fairly often. The reality is that I would love to be able to afford to do all of this on my own, but I can’t. The reason I started Cloud Nine Rescue Flights and went to the time and effort of forming a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (no small effort, as anyone who’s done it can tell you) was because I can’t afford to do this on my own. Four years ago when I first got the idea to form Cloud Nine, the driving reason was that I had the desire to help homeless animals in a big way, but that I knew I would need to be able to raise money in order to do this. Your support has allowed us to save the lives of over 1,500 homeless pets since we started!
Misconception 2: Cloud Nine gets government grants to fund operations
We have never received a government grant. Never. We have yet to find any government grants that we quality for. Being a 501(c)3 non-profit may allow you to qualify for other grants, but the primary thing it does from a government perspective is mean that you are tax-exempt. As such, the donations that you provide to us are tax deductible for you, and we don’t have to pay any taxes on them. However, no grants.
Misconception 3: Cloud Nine’s staff gets paid
Cloud Nine is 100% volunteer. That means me, Laurie, and our many volunteers we’ve had over the years. Nobody has ever been paid a salary, and never will. We do this because we’re devoted to saving the lives of homeless pets around the United States, and not for any financial gain. We have normal jobs that we work to pay our bills, and work on Cloud Nine after hours and on weekends. In spite of this, we still typically put between 10 and 40 hours per week into Cloud Nine. When I first started Cloud Nine, I was typically working 40 hours per week at my day job, and an additional 50-60 hours per week on Cloud Nine.
Misconception 4: Cloud Nine has tons of money!
Even if I wanted to get paid by Cloud Nine (which I don’t), it simply couldn’t happen. Our operating budget is based strictly on paying for the operating expenses of our aircraft, which is the tool we use for saving lives. It is a constant struggle to get the donations we need to continue flying, and unfortunately we do have to turn groups away due to lack of funding. If we had tons of money, I wouldn’t be asking you for more right now, and we wouldn’t be in a situation where we are forced to suspend operations.
Reality: Cloud Nine is funded by individual donors and grants
Now we get to the reality. Cloud Nine is funded by individual donors (that means you!) and grants. We receive donations and discounts on various products and services that we need, which helps us reduce our costs, and our overall mission is extremely cost-effective. However, our total operating budget is still greater than $100,000 annually. This comes through a combination of grants. This means that the people and groups who make donations to Cloud Nine are people just like you – people who believe in our cause and want to see us continuing to save the lives of homeless pets.
Misconception 5: My $10 donation doesn’t matter
Whether you can donate $10, $50, $100, or more, your donation matters. While even a $10 donation (we’ve received $1 donations – and are thankful for those!) is a very small percentage of our operating budget, we receive many $10 donations per year that make up a substantial percentage of our operating budget. If 3,000 people each donated $10, we’d have our current funding needs met. This sounds like many people, but we have over 6,000 fans on Facebook – that would simply mean 50% of people who like us are willing to help us with a small donation. Your donation does matter!
I hope that this has helped you to understand not only how we are funded, but also the importance of your donation. We truly need your support in order to save lives. It has always been my goal to operate a non-profit that is honest and true to its mission. That means that we keep our costs as low as possible to stretch every dollar donated further. That means that we operate on a 100% volunteer basis. That means that every mission we accept is one that is in-line with our mission, and makes effective use of your money that you donate. You work hard for your money, and I want to make sure that we are using your donation in the manner in which you expect it to be used. Did you know that many non-profits spend as much as 80% of your donation on items not directly related to the end cause? Marketing, fund-raising, etc. all count for this. Virtually 100% of your donation goes directly towards our mission.
Thank you for your continued support – we can’t do this without you!