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BUSINESS PLAN

ZIGGY'S REFUGE FARM SANCTUARY

Hi there!

Thank you for your interest in Ziggy's Refuge.  As a nonprofit, we want everything we do to be completely visible to our supporters.  When you support us, you'll know exactly what it is that your money and time is going towards.  Because of our desire to be open with you, we have decided to share our business plan.  Here, you will find our short and long-term business objectives, industry, competitive and customer analyses, as well as our marketing, operational and financial plans.  Though some things are subject to change, we will update our site almost as soon as that happens.  We encourage you to share our plans with anybody that may have questions, but if something remains unanswered, you can contact our team through the "CONTACT" page on our website's menu!

June 10th, 2016 Executive Summary

 

Kristin Hartness and James Yontz

 

Ziggy’s Animal Rescue

 

Business Description:
175 Acre organic farm in rural North Carolina serving the purpose of an Animal Rescue Facility as well as a Vegan Fundraiser and Events Center

 

Business Overview

Legal name of business: Ziggy’s Refuge

 

Trade name of business: Ziggy’s Refuge

 

Business address:
2122 Belmont Drive
Reidsville, North Carolina 27320

 

E-mail address:  kristin.hartness@gmail.com

 

Date business established: 2016/06

 

Nature of business: Animal Rescue

 

Section I: Executive Summary

When we brought Ziggy into our lives, our were eyes opened.  The effect he has had on us goes far beyond having a lovable pet.  He has made us aware that all animal lives matter and through this realization, we have become extremely dedicated to bettering the lives of all creatures.  As a result of this enlightenment, our goal is to open a Farm Animal Rescue in rural North Carolina to not only support and love as many deprived animals the same way we do Ziggy, but to also and perhaps more importantly educate the population on the torture and abuse animals endure in factory farms, animal testing laboratories, and general neglect from humans.  We will provide an optimal home for as many animals that the farm will comfortably hold while asking one thing of the animals themselves; to serve as “animal ambassadors” for all animals in need.  As rewarding as it will be to see all of their smiling furry and feathered faces every day, we feel like the greatest good we can do for society will be through education.  Just one person going vegan can save up to 200 animals every year, which alone would be more animals than the rescue could take in during a single year.  Thus, our animals will serve their purpose solely by being themselves and showing visitors their personalities when they are treated humanely.  We want people to see the true nature and personalities of these animals and as a result, cause some to question their eating and lifestyle habits.  

 

 

Our vision for creating a financially sustainable farm rescue will involve utilizing a very active social media presence for procuring donations and using the property to hold monthly fundraising events.  These events will attract new donors and volunteers while providing family entertainment to the community.  We plan to engage local universities with veterinary programs for assistance in the care of our animals with hopes of creating an internship program to ensure affordable care for our animals.  We are going to capitalize on our relationships in the vegan community within NC and that includes all college/community vegetarian/vegan clubs while recruiting volunteers locally in hopes of encouraging the “Ziggy Awakening” (people choosing a compassionate lifestyle).

 

 

The property we have earmarked has 4 homes on it all of which require some rejuvenation.  One house, in particular, has unique architecture and a large, well-landscaped yard that will serve as the perfect site for our bed and breakfast.  This home features a large hot tub, meditation tower that overlooks the entire farm, one room with an elaborate wood ceiling with artwork carved into it, and several other features that make it stand out as a wonderful getaway.  The Bed and Breakfast will also serve as a source for income but provide a great opportunity for out of town visitors/volunteers to spend multiple days at the farm and get to the know the animals as well.  

 

 

In order to better the lives of more animals, we will create an adoption/rehoming program for our animals in very specific cases.  There are far more animals in need of a home than we can provide and we expect to continually have the property at the maximum capacity based on the financial, land, and structural constraints of the farm.  For this reason, people looking to take in a specific animal or a general species will have the opportunity to go through an application process where we will review the applicant's ability and desire to give the animal the same care we would ourselves.  Ideally, once an animal has arrived at our rescue and creates bonds with the other animals, they will likely become in our mind unadoptable due to not wanting to put the animal through unnecessary stress.  For this reason, our preference would be to create a database of people in the area that have already gone through the application process who are willing to take in animals as they need rehoming prior to the animal ever being on our rescue.  We believe this will minimize the stress on the animals while finding them a forever home.

 

 

We believe our travels, social media presence, rescue experience, and general love for animals makes us uniquely capable of making this dream of ours a success.  On our journey, we have made great contacts along the way with individuals holding positions in several large animal rights groups, all of which are willing to help us.  We have volunteered at several farm animal sanctuaries full-time, giving us a broad understanding of the necessary work involved in running a rescue.  Finally, we have never hesitated to make any sacrifice we deemed necessary for Ziggy’s well-being and will do the same for all animals on our farm.

 

 

Section II: Company Overview
We have applied for our 501c3 non-profit status, and are currently listed as a non-profit in the State of North Carolina.
 
Kristin Hartness has a Business Administration and Marketing degree from UNC-Chapel Hill which has certainly proved valuable in the growth of Ziggy The Traveling Piggy on social media, and will absolutely be a necessary asset in the marketing of the organization for fundraisers and donations worldwide.  

Jay Yontz has a degree in Civil-Engineering from Colorado State University and has a broad background in construction and management which will be applied to the new construction of buildings and structures on the farm, repairs and remodels of existing structures, and the general maintenance of the property and equipment.
 
To date, our greatest accomplishment is evident with the popularity of Ziggy the Traveling Piggy on social media.  Through this social media platform, we have grown a following in excess of 40,000 people with a weekly reach exceeding 250,000 people.  These followers are very loyal and consistently follow every post.  
 
We have volunteered at several sanctuaries gaining experience and skills necessary for running a rescue.  One rescue, in particular, we spent approximately 4 months living on and operating.  Our responsibilities were far-reaching and we were involved in every aspect of maintaining the operation of the farm and the health of the animals.  This experience not only helped us to understand the incredible amount of work necessary to run a rescue but also cemented our beliefs that we are not only capable but overwhelmed with passion for this cause.
 
Short-term Business Objectives:
The existing property will require modest improvements in order to begin taking in animals. In the short term, the immediate goal will be to open the so-called floodgates to our ability to take-in animals in need.

We will need approximately $25,000 for fencing.  The current farm has 
barbed wire for fencing and we will be replacing it with appropriate fencing for the safety of our volunteers and farm animal family members.

We will prepare a 1-acre parcel of land for an organic garden to grow vegetables to supplement the feed of the animals.  As soon as the appropriate season arrives we will begin planting.  The plants grown will also be used for cooking on our food truck, serving strictly vegan cuisine.
Improvements to the main house will be required immediately.  As it’s an amazing house with new electrical wiring and new AC, it has proven to be in the middle of a renovation and will need approximately $30,000 for flooring, drywall, appliances etc to be completed. The main house will be used as our welcome center to accommodate visitors, volunteers, Bed and Breakfast guests, and a souvenir shop.

Apart from operations on the farm, social media platforms will be created specifically to Ziggy’s Refuge to work in conjunction with the already existing Ziggy The Traveling Piggy to promote the farm, keep supporters abreast of progress, spread awareness, and of course share pictures of all of the new members of our family.
 
Long-term Business Objectives:
Although little improvements are required to begin accommodating animals, to fully utilize the farm as a whole and be able to accommodate the maximum amount of animals improvements will be required on the majority of the structures.  Stalls will need to be created as one barn will need to be enclosed on one side to further protect the animals from the elements.  These improvements will be ongoing as we are financially able to expand to other pastures.

There is an additional site suitable for another home which we plan to utilize by installing sites with full-hookups and tiny homes for visitors/volunteers to stay in.

The wooded areas of the property have several overgrown trails that we will rejuvenate so visitors can hike through the woods and along the several spring-fed streams on the property.
Section III: Industry Analysis (Rise of Veganism/Animal Rights)
While we will dedicate our lives to maintaining the rescue and providing the best life possible for the animals on it, we will never be physically or fiscally able to support the farm on our own.  We will undoubtedly rely upon volunteers and donors who will more than likely be aligned with animal rights and/or veganism.  Considering the reliance upon the animal rights movement, it is important to analyze the trends among this facet of our culture.  According to Kathy Stevens in the article “No Lie Can Live Forever: Predicting A Vegan America by 2015” in The Huffington Post, meat consumption in America decreased by 12.2% in America from 2007 to 2012 which is a trend that has only continued to the present date.  As seen by the chart below from www.humanesociety.org and integrating that data with data from www.census.gov revealing that the American Population has increased from 301.6 million to 318.9 million indicates that there has been a decrease in animal consumption of approximately 10% per person over that span.

Our rescue intends to not only benefit from this trend but also contribute to it.  Our goal is to allow non-vegans to interact with happy farm “animal advocates” that will lead some to naturally question their decisions as we did ourselves with Ziggy.  At the bed and breakfast, as well as our weekend vegan food cart, and during our monthly fundraisers, we will exclusively serve vegan food. This approach will not only show people why they should reconsider their dietary choices but that it can be easy, healthy, and delicious.  

Although our volunteers and donors will not exclusively be vegetarian/vegan, a rise in the vegan population is certainly indicative of an increase in overall sympathy towards animals.  In 2009 it was estimated that 1% of Americans were either vegan/vegetarian and by 2015 some estimates were as high as 5%.  Furthermore, in Steven’s article cited above she references a 2012 study that says that when 10% of a population holds an “unshakable belief”, the entire population always adopts it.  By applying that statement, 5% of a population appears much more significant.

Finally, the best way to determine if something is trending is to follow the money.  If the population is changing then certainly the marketplace will follow.  You don’t have to go far to see the change in the marketplace.  While the deli section is still present, you will find an ever-increasing amount of meat and dairy substitutes on the shelves.  In fact, the meat substitute market is estimated to be an industry currently producing in excess of 3 billion in revenue but is projected to eclipse 5 billion by 2020.  This projected growth is surely indicative of a greater awareness of animal rights and a growing interest in helping animals.  Surely this is an opportunity not only for our rescue to be successful but it represents a greater opportunity to feed off this current momentum to make actual change in the world (our ultimate goal).

 

Section IV: Customer Analysis

  1. Target Volunteers/Donors

 

As indicated in the market research in the previous section we will largely target vegan/vegetarians and animal advocates as donors and volunteers.  The growth of this sect of the population was outlined largely above as well as the percentage of the U.S. population included in the said population.  Below are charts indicating the demographics of vegans/vegetarians as a whole in the U.S. as well as in the U.K.  By acknowledging the age and gender of the majority of vegans, we will be able to target our marketing more towards these individuals.  This information is also vital in realizing the likelihood of an individual to be receptive to our message even if they are not vegan themselves.

2.Target Customers for Fundraisers and Events

 

While our expectations are that the majority of volunteer and donors will be animal advocates or at least aligned with similar beliefs, we will seek a much broader demographic for our fundraisers and events at the rescue.  These events will not target just people who believe in our cause but the general public as well.  Our events will be intended to be fun for families, college-age students, and animal lovers alike.  The specific demographics will vary however from event to event.  For example, a 5k race will certainly draw a different demographic than live music (Ziggy Fest) or a Polar Plunge.  Accordingly, we will adjust our marketing from event to event.

 

             3. Ziggy the Traveling Piggy Followers

 

Finally, we will rely heavily on Ziggy the Traveling Piggy’s followers on social media for support both financially and to spread awareness.  Currently, in excess of 30,000 people and climbing, this demographic is very loyal to our cause and has shown a large willingness to support us in the past while the number of followers was much smaller.

 

Section V: Competitive Analysis

  1. Competition

 

We will share the same common goal as our competitors, and in-turn we will generally welcome any competition and would look to pursue building positive relationships with them.  That being said, it is important to make sure that our area is not saturated with similar organizations in order for us to be successful.  Below is a list of similar business in the area and a brief description of their facilities:

  1. Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, Pittsboro North Carolina.  A 20-acre refuge promoting veganism and cruelty-free living offers rescue to farm animals in need while educating visitors on factory farming and veganism.

  2. Goat Mountain Ranch Rescue, Leicester North Carolina.  A 25-acre rescue for farm animals in Western North Carolina that saves and adopts all types of farm animals.  Tours are available.

These other sanctuaries absolutely share the same goals and overall business model as our own- however, there are significant differences and resources that make us believe that our rescue will be successful in this competitive environment.  Our perspective is that in a country that slaughters in excess of 9 billion animals annually, and the ability of our farm to save approximately 200 animals- the greater benefit to society is to convince people to change their eating habits.  Convincing one person to become vegan can save more animals annually than the entire farm as a whole.  Where our approach will differ from the above sanctuaries is that we plan to have monthly fundraisers on the farm that will attract people that do not have a current interest in saving animals.  This will enable people who would not normally seek an encounter with farm animals to be exposed to our “animal ambassadors” and perhaps think twice about their lifestyles.  Our other advantage is the large following of Ziggy the Travelling Piggy on social media which will provide us with free publicity for donors, visitors, and volunteers.

 

 

    2.  Competitive Advantages

 

Although in the world of animal sanctuaries we view “competition” to be extremely welcome as we all share the same goal of saving animals and changing hearts, we do feel that over the past 18 months our travels and Ziggy’s social media presence have positioned our rescue to be uniquely successful.  The property itself not only offers an ideal environment for the animals, but a large amount of land and the variety of activities and events that we will hold on the farm will truly make our rescue stand out.  

 

While traveling the country and growing the popularity of “Ziggy the Traveling Piggy” we have developed a platform which has and will continue to grow valuable relationships within animal rights groups and animal lovers alike.  These relationships will be vital for the procurement of donations but also offers a vast pool of knowledge that we will undoubtedly require as we grow the rescue.  “Ziggy the Traveling Piggy’s” social media following is in excess of 40,000 people while the total weekly reach exceeds 250,000.  Ziggy’s followers have watched our travels through their phones, computer screens, newspapers and TV and have seen the sacrifices we have made for him making them more likely to trust us to make additional sacrifices for the well-being of all the future animals added to our family.  We will rely on these followers for donations and to spread our message.

 

Our travels have also brought us to volunteer on several existing sanctuaries.  This experience has not only confirmed and grown our passion for building a rescue but also taught us how to properly care for the animals.  We have learned the amount of work and sacrifice needed for taking care of hundreds of animals and we are excited about the challenge.  While spending countless hours taking care of animals, we found ourselves exhausted at times- but we also found ourselves happier and more motivated than we ever thought possible. Our youth (30 and 32) will provide us with the necessary energy and time prior to retirement in order to build an infrastructure necessary to hand the farm over to a successor ensuring that no animals will be abandoned, which unfortunately has become common as rescue owners lose their physical ability to run their farms.

 

Finally, the property we have earmarked located in northern rural North Carolina has every necessary resource to fulfill our vision for Ziggy’s Rescue.  There are approximately 40 acres of quality pastures with operational fencing ready for use today.  The farm has a well water supply that is accessible throughout the farm which allows easy watering of the animals and garden.  Several barns are located throughout the property with minimal to no improvements necessary for them to be occupied by animals. Lastly, we feel that having 4 major Universities (UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, Wake-Forest, and Duke) within an hour driving distance will offer an endless pool of volunteers as we see college students (particularly the vegan/vegetarian groups within them) to be an optimal target for finding volunteers.  We also plan to grow relationships with the veterinary programs within the Universities to develop a means for students to have animals to safely work on while we are able to get affordable vet care.  Located in North Carolina is also important being that the state is in the center of “BBQ country” and also has some of the most lenient legislation pertaining to animal agriculture.  Our presence within North Carolina will counter the current attitude in the state towards farm animals and demand positive change.  

Section VI: Marketing Plan

  1. Products

Although it does not bring in anything concrete financially, the primary service we will provide is advocacy and education.  We want the property itself to indirectly serve as an educational program about the intelligence and sensitivity of farm animals.  We will offer people the opportunity to question where their food comes from and we will have the brutal answers.  Our advocacy will attract individuals and organizations who believe in our message and want to contribute to the cause.  Meanwhile, education will largely be a byproduct of the other services we provide that will financially contribute to the sustainability of the farm.

 

The property itself offers many opportunities for fundraising, which we plan to take full advantage off.  We will hold monthly fundraising events on the property including an annual Ziggy Fest; which will include bands, vegan food, and camping.  Other fundraiser ideas include an annual 5k race, a polar plunge, movie nights, and a pumpkin patch.  We will offer these often seasonal activities at varying rates for suggested donations based on the size and the cost of holding the event.

 

The main house on the property will also serve as a bed and breakfast for visitors and will offer vegan food.  The basement of the house is reminiscent of old stone taverns which we plan on renovating to serve this purpose.  We are working on establishing a relationship with a new brewery in the area with the goal of them providing beer to be served here.

 

  2. Marketing

Our marketing will largely consist of utilizing Ziggy’s already strong and growing online presence.  With his weekly reach on Facebook exceeding 250,000 people, we already have an affordable means of advertising.  We will continue to operate Ziggy The Travelling Piggy on social media in conjunction with new social media pages specific to the rescue.  We will utilize our current alliances with animal rights/advocacy groups and other social media outlets to spread our message i.e. The Dodo, Huffington Post, The Weather Channel, Animal Equality and other animal rights groups, which collectively reach an audience in the tens of millions.  

 

We will also use a more localized approach for attracting volunteers and visitors for the fundraisers.  We will utilize local online classified ads to target people in specific areas, including the nearby universities.  Furthermore, to target college students we will contact the vegan and vegetarian groups in the universities and use college specific classified ads to recruit volunteers.

 

Section VII: Operations Plan

 

Key Operational Processes

 

The daily operations of feeding, watering, and cleaning the stalls will largely be performed by local volunteers.  Key volunteers will be on a weekly schedule to guarantee that every day will be accounted for, however, volunteers not willing to make a weekly commitment will be welcome to help when possible.  Weekends will likely have the largest turnout, and on these days we will schedule larger tasks that are needed periodically.

 

Saturday afternoons we will have open visitation available to the general public to interact with the animals.  During this time we will give tours that consist of telling the stories of the individual animals and allowing the guests to get to the know the animals in a safe and controlled environment.

 

Kristin Hartness will largely be in charge of overseeing the general operations of the entire organization including daily operations, fundraising, and the planning of future endeavors.  

Of course, her sensitive love for the animals would not allow her to not be involved heavily in overseeing the animal neglect/abuse cases.  

 

James Yontz will assist Kristin Hartness in her activities but will primarily be responsible for the maintenance of the farm facilities.  This will include the repairs and remodeling of existing structures as well as the construction of new ones.  He will maintain all equipment, fences, and infrastructure required to maintain the health of the animals and the aesthetics of the farm.

 

As the farm grows and we become financially capable, we will pursue the hiring of an employee to be the Director of Fundraising Activities.  We feel that the fundraising events will be of immense importance to the sustainability of the farm and the health of the animals.  As such, for Kristin to maintain her focus on the overall operations, the details of holding monthly events will become a full-time job in itself.  This person will be responsible for preparing all necessary arrangements to hold the monthly events on the farm.

 

Jennifer Allen C.P.A. is kind enough to commit to handling all of our accounting needs pro-bono.  Obviously this is very helpful not only eliminates a significant financial burden but also being able to utilize her skills and knowledge will save further expenses as well.

 

JM has been generous enough to offer his services for all legal matters that we may require.  He has been crucial throughout the process of filing for 501c3 federal tax-exempt status and has committed to assist us in future matters as well.  We feel this will be largely necessary for creating waivers and other documents to reduce our liability-risk.

 

Section VII: Financial Plan

  1. Startup/Initial 3 year budget outlook

 

Use of Funds

 

As seen in the budget above there will be a multitude of operations requiring funds.  While we have spent a great deal of time and research anticipating what to expect, the reality is that the majority of our costs will be fluid and necessity-based.  The first priority will always be to maintain a healthy environment for the animals as this is the backbone of the organization.  The cost of feed and veterinary care will carry the highest regard and the budget will be adjusted accordingly as the number of animals, the health of the animals, and other factors outside of our control will determine the magnitude of these expenses.  

 

All other use of funds will largely contribute to the growth and sustainability of the organization as a function of achieving the greater goals discussed in previous sections.  Funds remaining after the needs of the animals are taken care of will be allocated accordingly towards the growth of the organization in the form of building improvements, advocacy/education, equipment repairs/additions, property maintenance, and adding employees as necessary.  

 

As a non-profit organization, we believe in absolute transparency and want donors to always know that their money is being spent towards the welfare of animals.  For this reason, the final allocation of funds in the event of a surplus will be contributed to other sanctuaries and advocacy groups that share our common goal.  

 

Exit Strategy

 

In the event of the deaths or other unforeseen occurrences leaving Kristin Hartness and James Yontz incapable of operating the rescue, the operations of the rescue will be left to Crystal Moultin.  Mrs. Moultin and her husband William have extensive experience operating sanctuaries, a strong desire to save animals and share the same ethical foundation as ourselves.  For this reason, we are confident that an unforeseeable tragedy will never leave the animals without homes or proper care.

 

The long-term exit strategy does not involve the dissolution of the sanctuary. The intent is to establish a sustainable organization that even when we are physically incapable or desire to retire from the operations of the rescue, the organization will be established enough that it is no longer dependent upon a single person.