Charity Spotlight: Voiceless-MI

Foster care and spay/neuter services for furry friends who have no voice.

Voiceless-MI helps reduce the population of unwanted pets in and around Lansing by offering community-led spay and neuter programs. They encourage compassion for all animals by educating the public, providing foster care, and speaking up for those who cannot speak.

In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the President of Voiceless-MI, Holly Thoms.

Origin Story

Between 2001 and 2008, Holly volunteered at the Friends of Ingham County Animal Shelter, a nonprofit that worked with other animal organizations to reduce the number of animals in shelters and improve their overall care in Ingham County. Over that time, Holly developed her skills running the organization and refined her ideas about how to best serve animals in need.

After Friends of Ingham County Animals closed in 2009, Holly realized her passion for helping animals was too strong for her to sit idle. She still wanted to protect animals, reduce the unwanted pet population, and share her respect and compassion for animals with others.

She reached out to her friend, Beth Contreras, about starting an organization that could become a voice for the voiceless. Near the end of 2009, they made it official by establishing Voiceless-MI.

Today

Voiceless-MI is an advocate for the ethical treatment of animals and the services they provide always have the animals in mind.

One such service is their foster care and adoption program where volunteers provide homes for pets while Voiceless helps find permanent adoptive owners. Fostering pets in this way helps reduce the crowd of pets in animal shelters.

Voiceless also offers assistance with Trap Neuter Release (TNR). When someone finds a feral cat, they can contact a Voiceless-MI trap coordinator to get help safely trapping the cat. Voiceless provides vouchers that can be used to spay or neuter the cat at the Capital Area Humane Society Spay/Neuter Clinic before it is released where it was found.

The TNR program is especially popular because it helps reduce feral cat populations without killing them. Voiceless can provide everything one might need to safely use this service: training, traps, crates, and more.

Big Wins

Holly is proud of how effectively Voiceless-MI puts donations to use. In fact, 94¢ of every dollar donated goes directly to the benefit of the animals they help!

In both 2015 and 2016, Voiceless-MI has received the Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits. Since 2012, the intake of cats by animal shelters in Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties have shown a downward trend. This is a great indicator that Voiceless-MI and other spay/neuter programs are working.

Goals

Holly would like to see the intake of cats into animal shelters continue to drop. Of course, the ultimate goal would be zero new cats in shelters.

This would effectively put Voiceless-MI out of business—and would be considered a huge success—but realistically it means trying different programs and helping more animals than they did the previous year.

For Volunteers

Good, reliable volunteers can be hard to find and many nonprofits are always looking for new recruits! If you want to be a great volunteer, be upfront about how you want to help and which tasks you don’t like to do.

When you do commit yourself to an organization, try to make it last at least a few months. Integrity goes a long way when you volunteer. You’ll also save the charity from the attrition and regular churn of finding new volunteers.

For Nonprofits

Holly explains that good bookkeeping and transparency about how your organization uses donations is imperative. Put this information on your website. Share on social media, too. Talk about what you’re doing, how you do it, and so on. You can’t really overshare when it comes to how your nonprofit operates.

Get Involved

If you want to learn more about Voiceless-MI, you can reach them by clicking one of the buttons below.

Photographs courtesy of Voiceless-MI and Rebecca Mayo.