I felt completely hopeless. I had no money for payroll, no one to borrow from, and had depleted all of my personal funds over the past month. I felt defeated. I was going through my mail when I came across a check for $336. I burst into tears.

This was a day in November 2014—a day I hope to never have to revisit.  I am Sunny Aris, and I am the Founder of the nonprofit Animal Village in Alomogordo, NM, a no kill shelter and adoption agency.

That day in November 2014 was the day I realized that one of my employees had embezzled more than $3,000 in donations and wiped my computer clean of any record of them. Without these contributions, I was in a situation where I was not going to be able to make payroll the next day.

We are the only shelter for miles and miles here in New Mexico. Not only do we have rescue services, but was also have a pet food bank, free professional K9 training, and a low cost spay-neuter program.  All of this was in danger of having to be shut down. I was devastated.  

But that $336 check in the mail came from an organization called Goodshop, which I had recently learned about. Goodshop works with thousands of stores like Target, Kohls and Best Buy to give online shoppers access to the best coupons and deals. At the same time, Goodshop donates a portion of what is spent back to the shopper’s selected cause.  I had started a shop-funding campaign for Animal Village and people had started using it!

With these extra contributions, I knew we had a chance. I worked hard the next day to start to raise that week’s payroll—and thankfully, we made it.  #GivingTuesday was just around the corner, and I reminded our supporters that we still needed their help in order to keep our doors open and to care for all the animals that need our services.

Today, we are surviving, but I never want what happened in November 2014 to happen again.  I just started a new shop-funding campaign to raise an emergency reserve fund for Animal Village, which kicks off, in earnest, on #GivingTuesday.  I know people in Alomogordo care about Animal Village, but it’s very nice to have a day when we can all come together to really reflect on what my organization—and others—contribute to our communities.  I am a big believer in this day and hope that people come out to support not only Animal Village, but causes around the country and the world.

By, Sunny Aris (Founder, Animal Village NM)