A new study of one of the state’s first not-for-profit institutions, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals WA (RSPCA), may provide a valuable link to the past for historians and ideas for creating a successful structure for other not-
A new study of one of the state’s first not-for-profit institutions, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals WA (RSPCA), may provide a valuable link to the past for historians and ideas for creating a successful structure for other not-for-profit organizations.
Although created more than a century ago, there is no written account of the history of the RSPCA.
The recording of oral archives by University of Western Australia researcher, Julia Wallis, funded by a grant from Lotterywest, is the first step towards this goal.
This project will do more than provide information about one of the State’s first institutions, according to the director of UWA’s Centre for Western Australian History, Dr Jean Chetkovich.
“The history of the RSPCA offers a singular view of WA from late colonial times,” she said.
“Its history is also the history of work and of industry, and in recording it we are celebrating the longevity and resilience of an animal welfare organisation and honouring all those who have been involved with it.”
The organisation started in 1892 as a result of concern about the ill-treatment of horses.
In addition to acts of ignorance, people would underfeed, overload and overwork their horses. There was also concern for horses used in mining and transport.
Today, the organisation has branched out to include campaigning and educating on domestic, native and international animal welfare issues, breeding and farming issues and livestock exporting.
Various financial hurdles have presented themselves to the organisation over the years, which may provide strategic insights for other not-for-profit associations seeking solutions.
One hurdle the organisation overcame occurred during the Keating government, when new tax rules meant that the RSPCA societies nationally would have had to pay tax, regardless of how small their earnings were.
The RSPCA put forward a case for a special educational exemption due to their educational work and thus became a charitable organisation with no tax liability.
Another perennial challenge for the organisation was funding.
It costs more than $4 million every year to operate the RSPCA, with the state government contributing $250,000.
No money collected from animal cruelty fines imposed by the courts is returned to the RSPCA, but instead goes into government consolidated revenue.
Because of this, fundraising is an important source of revenue.
“The importance of fund-raising cannot be stressed enough, as it has often been the main source of revenue that kept the organization functioning.” Ms Wallis said.
From about 1995, RSPCA began to work at developing the organisation into a modern and viable corporation by developing a business plan, financial plan, organisational plan, risk management policy, mission statement and corporate governance.
This process also led the organisation to focus on business partnerships.
Last year, the RSPCA received 11,000 calls to its operations centre for advice, and helped saved more than 3,000 animals from cruelty and neglect and investigated more than 2,000 cruelty cases nationally.