In the interest of full transparency, we wanted to tell all potential donors exactly how Critter Creek’s finances work and how we use your donations. We (the founders, Chris and Erin) have two main bank accounts: our personal account and the CCFS account. Donations are only ever deposited into the CCFS account—they never go into our personal account. We use each account to pay for different things involving the sanctuary.
1. Mortgages are paid exclusively with funds from the personal account. We hold three mortgages that involve CCFS: the Critter Creek forest, the Critter Creek farm, and Critter Hills. These mortgages are in our names, and so are personal mortgages. We would never use donor money to pay our mortgages. We can’t, as it’s illegal because we are a 501c3. But even if it were legal, we feel it would be extremely unethical. With each mortgage payment, we build equity in our property, which is considered by the law as personal “wealth.” How could we ever ask donors to build our “wealth?” We couldn’t, and we would never do this.
2. All personal bills are paid exclusively with funds from the personal account. Anything in our name—vehicles, electric bills, internet, etc.—must, by law, be paid for by us. Even if we use them for sanctuary purposes, we cannot pay for them with sanctuary dollars unless they are in the sanctuary’s name.
3. Animal feed, vet bills, enrichment (toys, pools, that sort of thing) are paid for exclusively from the CCFS account. Our accounts with the feed store, our veterinarians (private large animal, UF), and Amazon are in the name of CCFS and so we use those funds to pay these bills. This is the main way in which donor funds are spent, as it is the largest single monthly expense for the sanctuary.
4. Employees—it depends. We have three paid employees. Most employees work exclusively with the animals at Critter Creek and their salaries are paid with the CCFS account. However, some of our team members do a mix of jobs at Critter Hills and Critter Creek. Much of it is animal care and infrastructure-related, but some relates to farming hay and caring for the property. For this reason, we will pay them from different accounts depending on the work done. Please note that board members are not compensated for their work on the board.
5. Infrastructure—it depends. An improvement to the property technically builds equity in the property. For this reason, we use the CCFS account only to pay for improvements directly related to animal care. One example is shelter for the animals (such as the one pictured above). Since this is an improvement that is directly used by the animals, it was paid for with the CCFS account. Pouring concrete stones for the pigs to help keep their hooves filed is another example. These are completely animal care-related, so CCFS is paying. However, when we had to put limestone down on our road to make it more passable, we paid with our personal account. Yes, we need a passable road to get to the animals, but it’s not something they directly use.
We want everyone who donates to CCFS to feel confident that their donations are being put to good use and are being treated with the respect they deserve. Every dollar donated to CCFS is precious and your trust in us and our mission means more than you could possibly know. To say we appreciate you is such an understatement—we are truly humbled and amazed to have so many incredible people who have accompanied us on this journey.