Dr. Monisha Seth from Orlando, Florida and Franklin’s Friends talks to us about how she helps animal shelters and rescues in her local area by fundraising. She explains how she started with just a small group of five friends walking in the Orlando SPCA’s annual fundraiser, raising $500.
Over the years that group of friends continued to grow their impact and have now raised $1.6M and provide grants to many rescue groups, all over Central Florida.
2 Simple Ideas To Make a Difference:
- Use PetFinder.com to look for a new pet to adopt (don’t shop)
- Start small by joining a fundraiser for our local shelter
About Our Guest:
Monisha is an internal medicine physician with AdventHealth Medical Group in Winter Park, Florida. She and her husband Anthony founded Franklin’s Friends in 2003 after adopting their first dog Franklin from the SPCA of Central Florida. They are now the proud parents of 3 rescued hounds – Annie, Winston, and Lincoln. She is pictured here with Franklin – who inspired all the important work Franklin’s Friends has done to support local animal welfare.
About Franklin's Friends:
Franklin’s Friends is an all volunteer nonprofit whose mission is to support Central Florida animal welfare by fundraising for local nonprofit and government agencies that are dedicated to Shelter/Rescue, Spay/Neuter, and Community Education programs. We like to think that we function like the United Way for Central Florida animal welfare.
My Favorite Episode Quote:
“There was a time that it was mainly our friends and family that supported our events. Then there was a turning point about three years ago where I didn’t know half of the people attending our gala. And I was like, “wow, this is really wonderful.’.” – Dr. Monisha Seth
From Scared of Dogs to Saving Them:
Monisha grew up scared of dogs! She laughed that her mom would have them cross the street if a dog was coming down the road. Little did she know that when she met her husband, she would have to interact with his small dog on a normal basis. That terrified her. But she slowly warmed up to him as he got older and less intimidating. ;-)
Eventually, Monisha’s husband, Anthony, talked her into getting a new dog for their home. They went to the Orlando SPCA and found Franklin. Soon after they adopted a second dog, then a third, then a fourth! They began wanting to do more to help animal shelters, and thus began the journey of Franklin’s Friends.
Adopt, Don't Shop:
Monisha and I talked about how many people still default to a breeder when they want a new pet. But now a days, you can really find almost any kind of pet you want with PetFinder.com. This website spans shelters all across the United States, and you can search by tons of details like:
- Good with kids or other animals
- Coat Length
- Care & Behavior
- Days on Pet Finder
- Shelter or Rescue
Start with a small team and grow:
Dr. Seth walks us through the Franklin’s Friends story from day one, when she and her husband Anthony decided to walk in the Orlando SPCA Wiggle Waggle Walk. They joined with 3 friends and together raised about $500.
They were shocked to find out that they were the largest donation at $500 and wanted to do more. The next year they made a slightly bigger team and asked for donations from friends and family. They continued to grow each year, and the SPCA began giving them a credit card reader so that they could collect even larger donations.
After many years, they were raising about $60,000 a year for the SPCA and decided that they wanted to help animal shelters all over Central Florida. They cited that the SPCA is a large organization, and they had their own development director and staff. Many small local groups were volunteer only, with very minimal resources, and they wanted to make a difference for these groups too.
So they made the big leap to become a nonprofit and apply for their 501(c)3 status.
Raising $1.6M for Central Florida animal welfare:
After Franklin’s Friends incorporated and became their own 501(c)3, they shifted into hosting two major events per year. They do a Howl-o-ween walk and costume parade in the Fall, and a Gala in the Spring. Various members of the community host extra fundraisers throughout the year that Franklin’s Friends supports, but doesn’t plan and run.
With these events, they’ve now raised $1.6M for local animal welfare. They spend this money by providing grants to groups who apply and are approved. To verify that money is truly being used to help animals, they have very rigorous guidelines. Organizations must be veterinarily and fiscally responsible, and they must prove this with accounting books. Any organization receiving a grant from Franklin’s Friends is required to furnish invoices demonstrating how the funds were spent. And grants are renewed every year to make sure that all money given is used within that year.
All of Franklin’s Friends grants support their 3 pillars:
- Community Education
Monisha shares that they’re most excited right now about the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) programs that they sponsor because they’ve actually been able to see a notable decrease in animals coming into shelters in the area.
Looking forward with Franklin's Friends:
Dr. Seth shares that the team’s biggest focus right now is getting the word out about Franklin’s Friends to more Central Florida rescue groups. She says that although more and more people know that Franklin’s Friends exists as a resource, there are still many small rescues and pet welfare non-profits that don’t. Their hope is to reach new groups with their grants and sponsor new projects.
How to start an animal welfare non-profit:
Monisha also shares her thoughts on starting a non-profit. So many of us animal lovers are looking for a way to make a difference, and very often, we feel that urge to start a non-profit. But, the means to start a non-profit, or knowing where to start, can be difficult to come by.
Monisha recommends that we first look for another group to help. She said that Franklin’s Friends often sees small groups that are working separate from each other who could be doing so much more if they combined their resources. She recommends always working with other people, so that we can leverage each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and contacts. She believes that Franklin’s Friends has gotten to where it is today because of so many people working together to make it happen.