Gateway Pet Guardians, a nonprofit organization located in East St. Louis, IL, is working hard to create a thriving pet welfare community in the east side pet district. The organization has been providing support to the community for over 10 years and opened its first pet resource center in 2020. The pet resource center provides many offerings to the East St. Louis community including a low-cost veterinary clinic, affordable pet supply store, free spay or neuter services for qualifying applicants, a pet hotline, and animal welfare services.
To better understand Gateway Pet Guardians impact, you must understand the East St. Louis, IL community. Prior to the organization opening its pet resource center, there was no animal clinic in the area or place to purchase affordable pet supplies. Unfortunately, the once-thriving community saw a decrease in population and economic growth when industries left several decades ago. The organization saw a need to provide support to the great people within the community and give them access to pet resources.
Gateway Pet Guardians is providing the community with much-needed services. Below are the organization’s 2020 impact metrics.
To reach its mission and vision, Gateway Pet Guardians relies heavily on the support of community partners, staff, donors, and volunteers. The organization’s volunteer program consists of 200 volunteers per year who fill a variety of in-person and remote roles including coordinating adoptions, website development, photography, working in the shelter and food pantry, conducting community outreach, providing animal transportation, and much more.
At Gateway Pet Guardians we take volunteerism seriously. Our volunteer program is saving our organization over $200,000 per year while helping us build relationships with amazing community talent” said Alisha Vianello, Program Director, Gateway Pet Guardians
Gateway Pet Guardians first realized it had a substantial opportunity to increase engagement with volunteers after becoming service enterprise certified, a program through Points of Light, in 2020. The certification, which took the organization a year and a half to complete, provides best practices for engaging, recognizing, supporting, and training volunteers.
The desire to increase volunteer engagement led Gateway Pet Guardians to explore volunteer management solutions to support their program and goals. The organization wanted a better solution for tracking, communication, rewards, and reporting. Gateway Pet Guardians found the solution that they needed in VolunteerHub.
“VolunteerHub provides us with the tools needed to manage our program, increase engagement, and incentivize volunteers,” said Alisha
Besides using VolunteerHub to create an organized and online process for managing volunteers, Gateway Pet Guardians is leveraging the solutions gamification feature to provide quantifiable value to volunteers directly. Each volunteer opportunity that the organization promotes has a point value attached to it that can be earned by volunteers. Volunteers can accumulate points and use them to pay for products and services at Gateway Pet Guardians vet clinic, pet store, and grooming spa.
Gateway Pet Guardians is also using its points-based reward program to prompt volunteers to give points to those in need, sparking a “pay-it-forward” movement. The organization uses the communication features in VolunteerHub and its private Facebook page to tell volunteers about people in the community who could use additional support, such as the need for life-saving veterinary services. Volunteers can choose to donate their points or a percentage of their points to help.
“The point-based reward and recognition program we have created in VolunteerHub is awesome! Volunteers receive one point for every hour they give, and three points are equivalent to a dollar. These points can be exchanged for products and services to support their own pet or others in need,” said Alisha
“The points-based reward program we have set up in VolunteerHub has been very beneficial amid COVID-19. We have been able to leverage our rewards and recognition program to recruit and retain home-based volunteers,” said Alisha
VolunteerHub has played a crucial role in providing Gateway Pet Guardians with the tool-set to better manage, engage, and reward volunteers. Through its innovative points-based reward program, Gateway Pet Guardians plans to continue to find new ways to provide much-needed support to the community and value to volunteers in exchange for their time.