An Interview With Perry Jowsey, Director of Development, Freedom Service Dogs
It's difficult to resist petting these hard workers. But Freedom Service Dogs have a job to do. And the Englewood, Colo.-based organization that trains the canines and pairs them with people with disabilities who can benefit from these working dogs' help ensure that they're able to do that job.
FSD Development Director Perry Jowsey says the dogs are individually trained to meet a specific person's needs.
“FSD provides lifetime support to its client-dog partners to encourage increased independence and the loving, therapeutic bond between canine and human,” he adds.
To do that, the 100 percent donor-supported nonprofit that began in 1987 as a two-person organization now has 10 full-time and three part-time employees and operates on $950,000 a year, with the bulk of the funds coming from foundation and corporate grants (45 percent) and the rest arriving from individual contributions (34 percent), workplace giving campaigns (9 percent) and special events (8 percent).
With those donations, FSD's been able to rescue and adopt out more than 1,000 dogs — with more than 150 of the canines being placed in “highly specialized client-dog teams.”
Jowsey provides more insight on FSD:
FundRaising Success: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
Perry Jowsey: Like many small nonprofits, we were able to grow our budget over the years by appealing to the foundation community for seed money and project-specific funding. With an annual operating budget that receives over 40 percent of revenue from foundations, we have faced challenges since the economic downturn of 2008 as it has dramatically impacted the ability of the foundation community to make sizeable investments in a time when most nonprofits are declining in funding.
To be the exception in these times, we have focused on being exceptional: Highly quantifiable metrics to demonstrate the impact of our work are complemented with deeply moving personal narratives. This has helped us stay competitive in the foundation marketplace, and has provided us with the tools to build an individual donor base more robustly moving forward. It is my belief that a best-practice nonprofit must have a better balanced pool of funding, and we are proactively working to accomplish that even during challenging economic times.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
PJ: Although Freedom Service Dogs has support of people and foundations from around the nation, we receive the vast majority of support from sources in our home state of Colorado. This is not unique to giving trends, but as an agency with an overarching mission that has been the feature of several national media spotlights, we know we have the message and capacity to appeal to new donor markets. Going forward, we anticipate increasing our national appeal and serving more people and dogs in need throughout all parts of the country.