29 December 2015

Will Urban Animal be Funded?

Challenging the future of this program

Despite past contributions, Urban Animal is expected to have a shortfall in the order of $110,000 for 2015. Unfunded delegate and scholarship claims amount to $23,000 +/- of the shortfall. While many seem to think the right choice is to fund the shortfall and continue the program, no one has been able to assemble the financial commitment required. It is unlikely that PetLynx, a founder and primary sponsor, will be able to fund this shortfall alone.

Financial challenges demand a review of the viability of Urban Animal. The program receives overwhelming support from those who received Summit awards as well as from researchers, innovators, emerging leaders, journalists and those who participated in Urban Animal initiatives. Urban Animal has a large and growing audience (40K+) across the industry and around the globe. Why then has this support not transferred into financial sustainability? While Urban Animal has clearly broadened industry collaboration, strengthened industry relationships and created more positive pet experiences; Perhaps the bigger question to be answered is why brands find the program difficult to fund?

As the discussion of viability moves along, organizers gather ideas to improve the cost and efficacy of programs. Recent suggestions include these:
  • Simplify the Urban Animal Foundation governance.
  • Reduce or eliminate the dependence on sponsors.
  • Virtualize programs to eliminate or reduce travel and venue expenses.
  • Recruit Action Council members (alumni, mentors and adjudicators) to deliver Urban Animal program elements.
  • Develop new approaches to Urban Animal gatherings that develop public benefit, realizable action and less requirement for subsidization.
  • Work with Action Council members to fund industry initiatives at the beta development location (ie. the Ambassador program in Calgary).
  • Expand the role of the public to fund Urban Animal initiatives since they are the primary benefactors of Urban Animal programs.

There are at least almost two thousand thought leaders in the Urban Animal program across North America. Many hope the 2016 program year will recast programs and funding to sustain Urban Animal for the long term.

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