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The Good News: Shelley Thayer of Cat Depot

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  • | 4:00 a.m. September 11, 2013
  • Siesta Key
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In the height of an especially busy and long-lasting kitten season, Cat Depot Executive Director Shelly Thayer was recently faced with nearly 150 orphaned kittens that needed to be bottle-fed by hand.

The process is both expensive and time consuming, because it requires volunteers to work in shifts throughout the night to feed the kittens with a special formula.

This kind of problem would normally be a financially daunting task for the non-profit animal shelter, which relies on donations and volunteers. But, after posting Cat Depot’s specific needs to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s crowd-funding website,, the $450 project to provide baby formula and weaning food was funded within one day.

“That project was overwhelming,” says Thayer. “And the fact that it was funded in less than 24 hours had us all cheering. It always feels good to see that email come through, saying the project has been fully funded. It’s joyous.”

The project provided food for 140 kittens, and Thayer says they will continue to use the food as they receive more kittens. There’s never a shortage of cats that need help, she says.

Since was established in 2011, Cat Depot has been one if its more prolific beneficiaries; it has used the site to fund a total of 18 projects of various sizes and costs.

“It’s been a great advantage to us,” says Thayer. “Fundraising takes time, and this is something that’s simple for us to put together. Everyone in a shelter environment is so busy caring for animals, so having an easy resource to use is a huge benefit. It’s a quick way to get the word out that we need help and for the community to come forward and assist us.”

Thayer says one of the main advantages of the program is that it’s well suited for the hard-to-predict nature of the organization. She says that unexpected projects often arise without warning and need to be funded quickly to meet the animals’ needs.

“Since we have been working with Gulf Coast Gives, they have filled that void we often have when we look at a project and wonder if we can do this with our budget,” says Thayer. “This opens the window for new donors to look at what our project is, and if they agree with it, they have the opportunity to help us. It takes us through our year and helps us with our projects as they come along. As a shelter, we never know what’s going to happen from day to day.”

18 — Number of projects funded
110 — Number of unique donors
$15,728 — Total money raised


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