Lisa LaVerdiere is the founder of Home for Life Animal Sanctuary, a charitable organization that offers an innovative alternative to the traditional options provided by animal shelters. Unfortunately, it is often the case that an animal’s time in a shelter will end in one of two ways: adoption or euthanasia. Recognizing the need for a better alternative to these two extreme outcomes, Ms. LaVerdiere founded Home for Life Animal Sanctuary in order to provide animals that could not be adopted with an opportunity to enjoy all that life has to offer. The sanctuary provides these animals with a variety of amenities, including ample space, loving care, proper medical attention and so much more.
Before devoting all of her time to Home for Life Animal Sanctuary, Ms. LaVerdiere spent 15 years of her professional career as a lawyer focusing on issues relating to toxic tort law and product liability. While her work in the legal field was vast and varied, she is most proud of her efforts in advocating on the behalf of children who were adversely affected by lead poisoning.
Though animal welfare and legal practice seem like vastly divergent fields, both have allowed Ms. LaVerdiere to serve as an advocate for those who are disadvantaged and in most need of representation and support. With Home for Life Animal Sanctuary, Ms. LaVerdiere is able to provide a home for animals that may have instead been euthanized if not for the intervention of Home for Life and its willingness to provide companionship, comfort and care.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I initially got started in this business through my long history of volunteer work in support of animal welfare. Until I founded Home for Life Animal Sanctuary in 1997, there was no third alternative beyond adoption or euthanasia provided by the traditional shelters.
How do you make money?
We have to raise our own funding each year to run the sanctuary. Having to constantly fundraise has been one of our greatest challenges.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Our costs depend on a variety of factors, and we have had to raise an amount each year equal to our startup budget just to cover our annual operations and management costs.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I think everyone has doubts at the outset of any new endeavor, but I was confident that this would work because there was such a clear need for the kind of care Home for Life provides.
How did you get your first customer?
I learned very early on that the animals are their own best promoters. We simply try to tell their story until it resonates with one of our customers. This was the way we reached our first customer and it is the way we continue to reach customers today.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We recently began issuing an e-newsletter that contains information about Home for Life and the animals that are currently in our care. We have gotten a very positive response to the newsletter so far.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Deciding on fundraising strategies is always difficult for me because there is often a great deal at stake. We need our fundraising efforts to be both effective and efficient, so there is very little margin for error when implementing a new strategy.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I am very motivated by the work I do and I am not particularly fond of relaxation or time off. I devote the bulk of my energy to Home for Life because I feel it is a cause of exceptional importance.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
As a lawyer, I did a lot of work relating to lead poisoning issues, and being able to help the many children who were affected by the poisoning caused by lead was certainly an important time in my professional career. With regard to my current work, I find it satisfying any time we see that we have been able to succeed in helping an animal find a new home and earn another chance.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am very excited about the possibilities offered by social media, and I hope that Home for Life is able to take advantage of the opportunities for spreading our message in this way. We want to be able to reach as many people as possible to let them know about our wonderful animals and the opportunities we provide through Home for Life.
Do you have any plans to expand Home for Life Animal Sanctuary?
We are always looking for ways to be able to serve more animals, and we do hope to expand sometime in the near future in order to accomplish this goal.