Peace River Wildlife Center is on the brink of yet another exciting opportunity. Contrary to recent newspaper headlines, PRWC is still working toward our expected April 2018 ground-breaking date for our new Center. The developer whose land we currently occupy does want us to move—but we have known that for some time now, and are diligently working toward that end. The developer himself has been nothing but patient with us as we traverse the winding path of permits, plans, and parliamentary procrastination. No one knows just how long this process this takes better than a developer, someone who wrangles with it on a daily basis.
PRWC will be moving off his property as soon as possible. Our new footprint in Ponce de Leon Park will be right next to where we are now, so even the most directionally challenged visitor will have no trouble finding us. Unfortunately, that location has become the new fly in the ointment for the developer’s legal team. They fear PRWC’s proximity to his property line will devalue his holdings. They are suing the City of Punta Gorda (not PRWC) since they are the ones who own the land. We are merely tenants and our “landlords” are dictating where we build our new facility.
Since PRWC was on the land when the developer purchased it, I would think having us anywhere else would increase the value of his property, not decrease it. But then, I may be a bit partial. I think having a wildlife rehabilitation facility on a piece of property is a boon—for the residents or tenants, the owner, and the community at large. But what do I know?
Actually what I do know, is that PRWC is looking even further into the future. We have been honoured to have been selected as one of four local nonprofits (out of more than 100 that applied) to work with No Margin, No Mission, a consulting firm that helps figure out how to raise their own funds, on an earned income initiative. The premise is that a nonprofit must earn money, or it cannot fulfill its mission. In order to sustain our wildlife rehabilitation efforts into the future, we have embarked on an endeavor to develop an online gift shop.
With no federal or state funding available to us, PRWC depends on donations to support its mission. Our main revenue streams are the gift shop, the entrance donation jug, memberships and general donations. When something as fickle as the weather can dictate how many people are coming through our gates, we need a more reliable means of support.
Anyone who has visited PRWC and gone into our on-site gift shop knows that it can get ridiculously crowded at times. It is a small building, crammed with a wonderful assortment of t-shirts, mugs, toys, books, jewelry, and all kinds of memorabilia to commemorate a trip to PRWC. Our branded merchandise is especially popular—Luna and Bella grace a wide variety of products. But all too often, people become frustrated by the lack of space, and leave before getting the chance to make purchases.
After returning home to Poughkeepsie, Peoria, or Prague; grandpa may wish he had gotten a toy for Timmy. Or Ethel is telling her neighbor Lucy about the cute little white owl she saw, and Lucy just has to have that t-shirt too. Now (OK, soon!), everyone can shop PRWC’s gift shop from the comfort of his or her own home.
With the help of the No Margin, No Mission team, we are being be led from the planning phase through the implementation phase. We have anticipated that it will cost us approximately $70,000 to bring this plan to fruition. Now through the end of January, all money raised for this effort will be matched by The Patterson Foundation, up to $35,000.
We know that the proceeds from our current brick-and-mortar gift shop yield approximately 20 percent of our annual operating budget. While the store in the new building will be larger, it will still have some limitations. With the addition of an online gift shop and a streamlined checkout system, we believe we can double or triple the income from that source within a few short years.
The generosity of The Patterson Foundation is evident in their support of the annual Giving Challenge, which has been invaluable to PRWC over the years. This is a step for us toward even greater autonomy, in that we will no longer be as dependent on admission donations, but will be able to earn an income to help us fulfill our mission. If you would like to join us in this effort, please contact PRWC and donate to the “online gift shop” initiative, with the chance of having your donation amount doubled.
Selling t-shirts is not our business. Our business is rescuing injured and orphaned wildlife. And we cannot do it without your help.
by- Robin Jenkins, DVM