Today we’d like to introduce you to John Kane.
Rescue Bank was created by Elizabeth Asher and John in 2006, based on their experience providing logistics support to animal rescue groups responding to Hurricane Katrina. During that response, the founders saw that almost all of the financial donations were sent to ‘name brand’ national groups, while most of the work was being done by volunteers from smaller, less visible groups that came to New Orleans from across the country.
To help level the playing field for these small groups, Rescue Bank adopted the national food bank model – aggregating their needs, securing large product donations from manufacturers, and creating a distribution system to deliver product to regional warehouses nationwide. From the beginning, Rescue Bank’s goal was to help the people helping animals.
Early efforts focused on the Gulf Coast. Mentored by the Houston Food Bank, Rescue Bank responded to Hurricanes Ike and Rita, as well as several floods, fires, and tornadoes throughout the region. Their national expansion began in 2011, aided by financial and administrative support from GreaterGood.org (GGO). With a mission to help ‘People, Pets. and the Planet’ in more than 30 countries, GGO saw the opportunity to scale Rescue Bank’s regional operations to not only cover the US but also to serve animal welfare needs during international disasters.
Working closely together for the next three years, GGO and Rescue Bank merged in 2014, expanding operations and delivering a total of a quarter billion meals of pet food by late 2017. More than 2,000 smaller, community-based rescue groups, foster networks, and shelters are approved to receive food donations, distributed from almost 30 locations across the country. Rescue Bank routinely responds to disasters and law enforcement actions, helping pets, their caregivers, and families.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Non-profit logistics is a relatively new field. Pioneered by the national food bank system, it has only recently expanded to other product areas. At first, pet food manufacturers were skeptical and Rescue Bank had to work hard to develop relationships and create a business environment that worked for them.
As supply expanded, the next challenge was matching distribution and verified, approved recipients to that demand. The nature of animal welfare groups, especially at the small, community-based level, requires extensive due diligence and monitoring to meet the donors’ requirements for brand protection and appropriate use of food grants.
Now the challenge is keeping up with the swings in donation offers. Some months our donors have limited supply available for donation, others we have trouble finding enough warehouse space to receive what’s offered. As a result, we’re working on processes that could help us smooth out these peaks and valleys, to create a more consistent supply chain serving our rescue group partners.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Rescue Bank is, essentially, the ‘Feeding America’ of pet food. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Houston Food Bank for mentoring our start-up and early growth. With their guidance to “create a national organization from day one,” we were able to weather the growing pains that come from creating a high-volume logistics network serving non-profit partners.
Today, we’re known among manufacturers as a reliable partner for turning excess product into brand-building goodwill. We’re known in the rescue community as transparent, equitable distributors of products they would otherwise buy, or, lacking funds, have to do without. The money they save by receiving food through Rescue Bank funds more spay/neuters, additional vet care, and improved operations. The net result is more, and healthier, adoptions. (Receiving groups pay a nominal per pound fee to partially offset our logistics costs, consistent with the food bank model. Disaster recipients and law enforcement do not pay any fees.)
We are proud that we’ve helped tens of thousands of rescuers and responders, touching the lives of millions of pets in rescue and disasters.
What were you like growing up?
Rescue Bank’s founders couldn’t have grown up in more different circumstances. Shortly after her birth in Alaska, Elizabeth’s family moved to Abilene where they lived until she left for graduate school. Long-term relationships and the opportunity to become well-established in the community formed much of her outlook in life. These led, among other things, to a career in law and a deep sense of justice for those less able to help themselves.
John’s family left Connecticut for Venezuela shortly after his birth, returning when he was five to start a journey that covered 7 cities, 12 schools, and 18 houses by the time he left for college in another state. Making friends quickly, learning on the fly, and reigning in extreme curiosity colored his outlook.
Full disclosure, Elizabeth, and John are a couple and have found ways to combine their very different experiences into their common passion – helping pets in need.
- Average food value is greater than $2 per pound.
- Address: 11767 Katy Freeway, Suite 360
Houston, TX 77077
- Website: www.greatergood.org or www.rescuebank.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RescueBank/