Last week I had a chance to speak with Peter Alberti, Founder of PetChance.org –a nonprofit that makes quality medical care an option for pet owners who would otherwise have some dire decisions to make.
Last July, he was listening to a radio talk show where the guest was a veterinarian who answers callers’ questions about their pets. The prevailing theme from many of the callers was: “My vet told me my pet needs a treatment I can’t afford. What cheaper alternatives do I have? He tried calling in to introduce the concept of crowdfunding as a possible solution, but he couldn’t get through. He thought that there must be other people who don’t know about the concept of crowdfunding either.
Fortunately, Peter has the luck of having an expert right next door! His neighbor works for VCA Animal Hospital, which operates 540 hospitals in 41 states across the country. He ran the idea past her and with her reaction he became more confident that this idea could become a reality. And today, it’s a “win-win” as Peter said. The hospitals certainly “aren’t in business to be euthanizing animals; they want to help them—and the pet owners want them to get better, but have financial difficulty.”
How it Works
A pet owner contacts PetChance.org and creates an individual campaign, termed a Chance. Peter and his team contact the hospital directly and review the treatment plan to eliminate the possibility of fraud and to determine the starting amount of the goal. “Medical treatment plans are volatile,” since a test can result in additional needs or a different course of action, so Peter has developed the site to keep settings flexible. The amount raised goes directly to the service provider; if it is less than the goal the amount is still released and the pet owner can either conduct another Chance on the site or discuss payments/negotiate cost with the provider. If the amount collected ends up being more than what is required (or the cost originally set as the goal is reduced as the course of action was changed, for example) the additional amount can be used for the pet for one year; any additional services then “.. held in an account for the hospital/clinic where (you) received treatment. The hospital/clinic can then use this money at their discretion to help other pets!”
Nonprofit Metrics for Success
Peter has a unique perspective, since his professional background is solidly set in working with for-profits including several start-ups and IBM. He has an impressive amount of experience in a multitude of business and technology settings that he is bringing to the nonprofit sector. He is inspired by the amount of evolution he sees going on right now in the third sector. “With a for-profit company, the metric is easy: Did you make money? For nonprofits the metric is: Not that. Nonprofit does not equal “cheap”, “poor” “Ramen Noodles –eating style management “ and he is excited to see more organizations conveying and moving toward a standard that will say: Nonprofit = Quality.
Every nonprofit has authentic business needs. Skimping on the quality of a business need should not be priority. Pet Chance, for example, needs to upgrade to a server that will allow the group to grow and handle the increased traffic. When he started investigating options he found that once a vendor heard he was with a nonprofit, he got the brush off from them. Their own sales person said, “Oh, this is too expensive for you” But as Peter said, “I need it and need to know the price. Don’t just tell me it’s too high; tell me the price and I can try to secure a grant or raise funds.” Management and leadership skills as well as transparency are tools he’d acquired from the for-profit world and using to build a quality nonprofit.
Pet Chance has completed its proof of concept phase and is gearing up to scale in order to help even more pet owners and their best friends. On the verge of its 1 year birthday, Pet Chance has already
- 1,040 registered users
- 500 individuals have made 609 donations
- fully funded 14 Chances
- raised funds for 114 Chances
- raised $29,000