Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Answering Questions Regarding Sponsorship

The other day I posted that the expected sponsor of our Winter Quest had pulled out, not because of anything Atticus or I have done, but due to a miscommunication between the owners of that businesses. I’m told that it boils down to that old line, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

I understand this and don’t take it personally but it sure puts us in a bad place.

Since I posted this the other day I have received several emails from people wanting to know how they can help out so I thought I’d take this rainy morning of no hiking to explain what sponsorship is all about.

There are basically two different ways to raise money for a non-profit such as Angell Animal Medical Center. There is the 31-C method that is preferred by most in fundraising because they get to keep a good chunk of the money they raise. In this situation an individual sets up his or her own non-profit and all money that goes to the fundraising cause gets split into two areas. The first is the money that goes to whatever organization the individual is raising money for. The rest of the money goes to the individual or organization raising the money.

The problem with this manner of fundraising, I believe, is that when you give to such an organization, you just don’t know how much of your money is actually going to the cause you are supporting and how much is going to the person heading up the fundraising. Years ago something like this occurred during that whole “We Are The World” thing. It turns out only a small fraction of the money raised through the efforts of those musicians went to starving people in Africa. The lion’s share went to those who were handling the money.

I believe that when a person gives to an organization it would be great if that money went directly to that organization. That is why when I approached Angell about raising money for them (and approached the Jimmy Fund last year) I told them I didn’t want a cut of it. If someone was donating $200 to Angell Animal Medical Center I wanted that $200 to go to Angell Animal Medical Center.

That is why when you make a contribution I have requested you make your checks out to Angell Animal Medical Center. Every cent goes to them.

I’m also aware that during this Winter Quest I have no money coming in for me personally. The answer to this is to get sponsorships much like you see in sports on television. Last year we didn’t have one major sponsor but several small ones. Through their donations to our cause we were able to spend as much time up here going after our goals and raising money for the Jimmy Fund as we did. In return those businesses had what amounts to advertising placed on our website and in various news articles reporting on our quest.

This year things were a little different. Atticus and I have developed a following and linked with our connection to Angell Animal Medical Center a well-known business approached me about being our only sponsor for the winter. That business would take care of our expenses during our winter quest. In return that business would get sole billing as sponsor for our efforts in both the media and more importantly on our popular website, not to mention a prominent mention in the book I’m currently working on. It was for this reason that I didn’t chase after several smaller sponsors like last year.

Over the past several weeks I kept hearing there were complications and the sponsorship was about to come through. Have faith, I was told. The other day I was informed that due to a miscommunication between the two owners of our expected sponsor that they would not be sponsoring us. Interestingly enough, readership of our blog is now five times greater than last winter and we are receiving more media inquiries at the halfway mark than we did all last winter.

Luckily we have been helped out in smaller ways. You will notice logos for Muttluks and The Natural Dog on our website. These two businesses are not major sponsors but they have been quite helpful. The Natural Dog supplies Atticus with hundreds of dollars worth of food and supplements throughout the winter to keep him strong. Muttluks has supplied Atticus’ boots and recently I have received an email from them telling me they were about to send even more. I appreciate the generosity of these two businesses. Their donations mean all the more now that money is tighter.

I wasn’t expecting to go through the entire fall and winter without any money coming through. Today is a rain day and perhaps it is best we cannot hike because it will give me time to seek out other sponsors.

Hopefully this will answer the questions people have had about sponsorship in the past couple of days. If you have any more questions feel free to contact me at or by telephone at 603-496-4875.