Two women shake hands.

How Forming Community Partnerships Leads to Better Transport Outcomes

Two of my kids recently acquired their driver’s licenses. If you’ve successfully done this in your own house, congratulations. If you haven’t experienced this yet, I’d suggest investing in a stress ball and perhaps even a worry rock. You’re supposed to find comfort in rubbing a worry rock with your thumb, but they are also very aerodynamic. Or so I’ve heard.

Transportation, when done correctly, is liberating. When it’s not, well, that’s what worry rocks are for. In animal welfare, transporting animals from one facility to another to improve their chances for adoption is vital. It can also be a lot to tackle. One of our SAWA OnPOINT (Partners Organized to Innovate, Navigate and Transform) teams tackled the topic and with all humility, I have to say, it’s transformative and available here. These basics of driver’s education can also get you on the right path.

Stop.

Raise your hand if you have a lot of time to stop and look around. Okay, I’m going to assume there are no hands up. I love quotes and one of my favorites is, “Sometimes your smartest people are the ones looking out the window. They’re the ones looking for ways to change things for the better.” By stopping once in a while and giving yourself the opportunity to analyze the “what” and the “why” of the work you do, you’re getting a head start on making things better. It’s easy — and sometimes very necessary — to get caught up in the “now.” But successful managers are constantly looking for better ways to do things and better partners to do things with. In transporting animals, there are a lot of boxes to check and many community resources you’ll eventually want to tap. Stop and make a list (or use ours) before moving to the next stage.

Look.

Like a famous politician recently said, “It takes a village.” Communities are filled with organizations looking for donations and philanthropic endeavors. The problem is, very few are doing step one (stopping) or moving on to step two (looking). So where do you find them? Make it easy and start with donors and volunteers. They all have relationships with companies and resources that can help.  Car companies, for instance, have national funds available for localized efforts. Subaru has a great program for local Subaru dealers to connect with shelters to help in your efforts. If you’re not doing that yet, stop reading this blog and call your local Subaru dealer.

Listen.

Your volunteers, your staff members, your donors … all great sources for community partnership leads. Animal shelters are very appealing in that regard — you’re visible, you’re an integral part of every community and transport requires a lot of hands. Good partnerships are all about mutual benefit: Find out what other organizations are trying to achieve and how your needs for transport support might help someone else reach a goal. Remember the old adage “two ears, one mouth” and listen twice as much as you speak. By extending your hand at a chamber of commerce meeting, asking volunteers and donors, or floating a “How can we help you?” through social media, you’re inviting organizations, corporations and businesses of all shapes and sizes to engage and aid in your efforts. Good things tend to happen when two parties understand each other’s goals prior to laying out a plan.

Finding great community partnerships for animal transport shouldn’t be the most difficult thing you do. Use the “Stop, Look and Listen” approach and save your worry rock for something else.


Tom Tholen

Tom Tholen is SAWA's Senior Vice President of Marketing & Development. The SAWA member has served as President of Companion Channel, a cloud-based digital screen media service that streamed into partner shelters. Tom is perhaps best known in the animal welfare industry as the former President & Chief Marketing Officer for Callahan Creek, which was the agency of record for Hill’s in the early days of their shelter program. Over the years, he has worked for several agencies, as well as major corporations including Hallmark, Sprint and General Electric. A Colorado native, Tom received his BS in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he lives with his family in the Kansas City area.


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