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Developing the Unique Voice of an Animal Welfare Nonprofit With Eric Larnick of People for Animals


Every nonprofit should develop its voice.

On today’s episode of the Nonprofit Thrive podcast with Ben Freda, Eric Larnick, Fundraising Manager at People for Animals, drops by to discuss animal advocacy. Eric reflects on what attracted him to animal welfare, speaks about his tenure at The Dodo, delves into effective communication practices in content creation, and gets candid about the Sato Project.

Today's Guest
People for Animals

Eric Larnick

Eric Larnick serves as the Fundraising Manager at People for Animals, a nonprofit veterinary clinic in New Jersey. With a remarkable expertise in fundraising, especially within the nonprofit sector, Eric brings a wealth of experience to his role. His background in entertainment and media, highlighted by his tenure at The Dodo, offers a distinctive perspective on audience engagement and support cultivation. Before his current position, Eric led fundraising initiatives at the Sato Project, a Puerto Rico-based dog rescue and adoption organization. His transition from the entertainment industry to nonprofit work reflects his profound commitment to improving the welfare of animals.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Eric Larnick reflects on what inspired him to work in animal welfare
  • What is The Dodo?
  • Effective communication practices in content creation
  • Eric discusses the Sato Project
  • Fundraising challenges and strategies
  • How People for Animals (PFA) is building a digital footprint
  • What are PFA’s future expansion plans?

In this episode…

In today’s society, animal welfare charities play a vital role in advocating for and protecting the well-being of animals. These organizations work tirelessly to provide care, support, and advocacy for needy animals. From rescuing abandoned pets to promoting responsible pet ownership and combating animal cruelty, animal welfare charities address a wide range of issues that impact the lives of animals around the world. How can these organizations enhance their impact?

Animal advocate Eric Larnick emphasizes that effective communication practices are crucial for animal welfare charities to convey their message and engage supporters. Content creation, through platforms like social media and websites, enables these organizations to raise awareness and inspire action. Citing examples from his experience covering news events for animal welfare groups, he highlights the importance of storytelling in conservation. Through compelling storytelling and strategic outreach, these organizations make a significant impact.

On today’s episode of the Nonprofit Thrive podcast with Ben Freda, Eric Larnick, Fundraising Manager at People for Animals, drops by to discuss animal advocacy. Eric reflects on what attracted him to animal welfare, speaks about his tenure at The Dodo, delves into effective communication practices in content creation, and gets candid about the Sato Project.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by BFC Digital.

At BFC Digital, we help nonprofit organizations thrive on the web so they can improve the world.

Our team of creative and tech experts understands that an online presence can help foundations and organizations accomplish their missions. That’s where we come in. Over the last decade, we’ve advised our clients on web design, front- and back-end development, and tech support.

We’re committed to supporting a select set of clients who continually inspire us with their vision for a better world.

To learn more on how BFC Digital can assist you in realizing your organization’s mission, visit, email us at, or call 646-450-2236 today!

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:06

Welcome to Nonprofit Thrive, a podcast where we learn from the humans who are helping nonprofits succeed in the digital world. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Ben Freda 0:22

Welcome to the show, I am Ben Freda. I’m the host. And in this show, we share the stories of the people behind the organizations, foundations and companies that are helping nonprofits change the world. Past guests, past shows, we’ve had Matt Schwartz from Constructive, which is a social change design firm. And he talked a lot about how to maximize not just the front end of a website, but also the backend and how sometimes it’s easy to skip that over. But important to consider, and some things to consider there. We also had on the show, Ryan Ozimek, who is an old friend of mine, who talked about CRM for nonprofits who are starting to use a CRM and are confused about how to use one best or what the next step to take is. We talked about how sometimes just a spreadsheet is the best CRM for you. And then as you move up the chain, maybe moving to other solutions, and what those solutions might look like. A really interesting episode so listen to that. That was the first one.

We have another great guest on today’s show, a friend of mine, a person I’ve worked with for a year. But before we get into him, let’s share that the show is sponsored by BFC Digital, where we help nonprofits thrive on the web. You probably know that, you know, having an effective web presence can really be a game changer for nonprofits. But if you’re one of the you know, one of these nonprofit tiers at an organization, who is more of an accidental techie, it can be pretty confusing to know how to, you know, fix bugs on the site, what’s DNS? What are the tricks, what are the things that are gonna happen? What do I have to think about? So that’s what we do at BFC Digital. We help make the web easy for nonprofits. We can do everything from small bugs, maintenance, little fixes all the way to, you know, planning, designing, and executing larger web projects. You can go to to learn more.

Okay, so today, I’m very happy to have on the show today Eric Larnick, who is the fundraising manager at People for Animals, which is a nonprofit veterinary clinic that operates in New Jersey. I met Eric about a year ago, when he joined the organization, the organization is an old client of ours. And it’s been a pleasure working with him for a year. And as we’ve been working together, I have learned more and more of his secrets, stories, tips, tricks about fundraising particularly, which is an interesting topic, I think, for most people in the nonprofit world, and something that I didn’t really, you know, really focus on the tech side. So getting to understand more about, you know, effective fundraising tactics, what works, what doesn’t, what his experiences are, I thought would be a great addition to the show. So his history is, before he joined People for Animals, he spent several years in sort of the entertainment and media sector, he worked for, which we’re gonna get into. And then he led the fundraising efforts of an organization called the Sato Project, which is a Puerto Rico based dog rescue and adoption group. And then after that, he left the organization and went to People for Animals. So with that, thank you so much for joining us, Eric.

Eric Larnick 3:38

Oh, man, thank you, Ben. Man, it’s such a, I’m not gonna live up to the hype of that introduction. I got my work cut out for me.

Ben Freda 3:45

It’s gonna be a breeze man, you got nothing to worry about.

Eric Larnick 3:48

That’s like, oh, you’re just like nonprofits that changed the world. I’m like gulp, that’s a tall order for me to live up to.

Ben Freda 3:54

Hey, your nonprofit changes the world.

Eric Larnick 3:57

I mean, no, no, yes. I don’t want to take any of the credit for that.I’m just a cog in the wheel. And I mean that in a good way. Like, I’m just kind of helping keep the machine running.

Ben Freda 4:06

So as you can tell, this is for the listeners, as you can tell already, Eric, very modest guy. But actually some crazy successes with fundraising. But before we get into that, I do want to ask you, I’ve seen The Dodo around. So, how did you get into sort of that, like the animal welfare world? And was The Dodo part of that?

Eric Larnick 4:28

Yeah. So I went, I mean, you know, it’s like, when I look back at you know, it’s like, I’ve got like a over a decade of like, a professional career now, which is crazy, because I still feel in my head like, I’m like, 20 something immature, and I’m just like, I gotta do something like after college and I still haven’t like figured out my life plan and I still feel that way in my head. But then I look back and I’m like, hh, my God, I’ve had like, long term stays at all these several companies. So yeah, I mean, I did go to film school, you know? I did pursue, you know, a film industry creative writing career. I did the LA thing for a while, you know, and I freelanced and temp’d at all these different websites doing entertainment media coverage. And I, you know, for several years, I worked at Moviefone, which still existed all the way into the 2010s, I think it technically still exists as an app. But even as a phone service, it existed all the way into the 2010s into the Obama administration. It was crazy. And I was working there. And it was all part of America Online, AOL was still in existence.

Ben Freda 5:34

What did you do for Moviefone?

Eric Larnick 5:35

Kind of everything, you know, I was, you know, writing movie reviews features, doing interviews with actors and filmmakers, and then through a lot of corporate consolidation, you know, I ended up writing entertainment features for The Huffington Post too you know. It all just kind of became this big, AOL, Huffington Post, and then I think it got swallowed up into, didn’t they merge with Yahoo, and then they got swallowed up by Verizon, you know, so it’s like, it’s all just that big thing. I, you know, I was a part of it on point. And, you know, I had, like, several years of like, buy lines and stuff, and, you know, and all that, but, you know, like, personally, like, I’ve, you know, just as I got older, you know, kind of figured out who I was, you know, I’m incredibly passionate about animal welfare. It’s just, you know, how I feel about the world. And, you know, my personal value system really places a lot of importance on being compassionate to animals, and being respectful to nature and the environment. You know, I think it’s like, you know, we have to take care of the earth, it’s the only one we’ve got, you know, and I just kind of wanted to do something different in my career.

And, you know, I was really trying to just make the leap into animal welfare, not even really knowing like, what like, what will that what is that like, what, what do I do, I don’t know how to like, I’m not a veterinarian, I don’t know how to, you know, perform surgery on an animal. Like, what I just want to be a part of and help. And that’s how I landed at The Dodo. And kind of in a, you know, really small world kind of way. It was actually, you know, it was, it was still, it was year two, I joined right at the start of year two of The Dodo as like a startup venture. And just like that small role kind of way, like, there were people who I had worked with at the Huffington Post, who had, you know, going over to The Dodo, and I didn’t even realize it didn’t even know, it wasn’t like, we were networking and making connections. It’s just yeah, you know, I was just hustling, looking for opportunities. And I found one, and then when I went to, like, meet with the people at The Dodo, were just like, oh, holy crap we know each other.

Ben Freda 7:44

For people that don’t know, and I know, because I just looked it up before this, and I recognize the logo as well. Can you just tell people what The Dodo is?

Eric Larnick 7:52

So The Dodo is, I mean, I guess they kind of defined themselves as like an animal brand. You know, it’s a brand for animal lovers. You know, they do a lot of video and television content, now they produce content for Animal Planet, you know, and it just kind of covers all aspects of the animal kingdom, you know, pet, you know, just like pet lifestyle, pet parent lifestyle stuff, all the way to like really inspirational stories of rescue and adoption, you know, you know, incredible stories from all around the world about, you know, different animals and the relationships that they’ve had with each other, and relationships they’ve had with humans. You know, it’s a lot like, you know, really trying to empower people to just, you know, be knowledgeable and passionate and love animals and just love the animal world.

Ben Freda 8:42

Yeah. That’s really cool. That’s really cool. So it’s like an entertainment type thing.

Eric Larnick 8:47

yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, what, you know, when I started, it was just still like a blog, you know, so crazy to kind of watch it because of how quickly it ballooned into, you know, a full, you know, media content production machine. And, you know, when I was there, I just, I kind of gravitated to I really, you know, I felt the passion for it. So I really dove in and wanted to take on all of their maybe like, animal welfare stuff, you know, so I was, you know, working in editorial and working in video production. And really what I did there for like four years was, you know, work with all of these different animal welfare organizations all over the world. You know, I was working with like, everyone from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which is this elephant conservation orphanage in Kenya all the way to like, you know, just like the local DIY dog rescuers across the country and you know, had a chance to like get involved with just about like every field of animal welfare, dogs, cats, elephants, rhinos, marine life bears, rare endangered species. So I had a lot of great colleagues and peers that I worked with. All like really gung ho and passionate, just kind of wanting to, like bring animal welfare into like a mainstream entertainment communication space?

Ben Freda 10:09

Yeah, and I guess that’s what The Dodo has really done. I mean, it is entertainment. I mean, I’ve seen clips and stuff that they’ve done, I think on social media. Yeah. But yeah, you’re right there there is sort of this ethos of animal protection. Right?

Eric Larnick 10:20

Yeah, yeah, they’ve gone crazy viral several times over, you know, and, you know, they’ve racked up hundreds of millions of views. And, and I will say, another thing, you know, it’s just like, as it’s scaled, and became kind of a bigger, you know, production hub, you know, I was also personally really proud I got, you know, I helped get The Dodo organized with the Writers Guild of America. So it’s like, you know, starting to produce content for television, and all of that, and, you know, we’re reaching this huge international audience. And, you know, we really put in the work, and we got that team that that creative team recognized for the work they do.

Ben Freda 10:57

That is awesome. That’s really cool. And how long was that period where you’re working? And why did you decide to move on?

Eric Larnick 11:03

Well, so I was at the dodo for over four years, like four years and some change. And, um, I just wanted more still, you know, like, I, you know, like what I was, so, I was so in the weeds, and I mean, that in a good way, like working with, like, you know, all these different animal welfare groups, like, I got so emotionally invested in difference, you know, like, we would cover specific animals, like a specific Pitbull that was, you know, trying for months and months and months to find an adopter, you know, and, you know, like, they need their speed, you need to signal boost their story a lot, or, you know, like, there’s an orphaned Rhino. You know, like, you see how this rhino is rescued as, like, an infant, and is, like, reared at the sanctuary, and you kind of, you know, just like, following individual stories of animals, and, you know, working with people at these organizations, like one on one, and, you know, they wear their hearts on their sleeves. And, um, you know, I just kind of found myself like, I want to be on that side.

Ben Freda 12:11

I see. It’s funny you say that we have, one of the clients we work with is called advancing conservation through empathy. So it’s a program of Woodland Park Zoo. And their job is to try and spread this idea that in order to encourage conservation in the general public, rather than the old way, which they think is sort of feeding data and facts about deforestation and population numbers declining and stuff, a new approach would be to help humans empathize with one particular animal. So like, this particular chimp likes, I don’t know corn, but it’s, you know, hates it when his little brother smacks them on the back, like that kind of stuff like that, that will really help humans form a connection with these animals and care about saving their environment, caring about preventing them from going extinct. So I’ve noticed you talk about that kind of stuff, when we’re talking about people for animals, stories, right, like storytelling is a big part of that is that I guess, and that’s sort of what you started with that whole thing?

Eric Larnick 13:04

Yeah, I think definitely, at The Dodo there was, you know, all we, you know, we were in constant God, it was like boot camp in terms of like, the best practice training sessions, you know, really analyzing the data, like, obsessively about what worked, what didn’t have, you know, and how do you, you know, really just, you know, you know, it’s true, like gaming the system, because the web is constantly evolving and changing. And, you know, all of these platforms are constantly changing their algorithm and their process. And, you know, you’re always trying to, like, keep your head above water and rise above white noise of everything else. Yeah. So yeah, all of those kinds of communication practices were just getting drilled into me, and, you know, it’s really kind of like, I think they’re kind of like, timeless tips, you know, like, I think they just kind of work on any platform, you know, in any group, like, they’re like, such universal practices that, you know, you just figure out how to translate them to your platform.

Ben Freda 14:07

Let’s get it. Let’s get into this. So those practices, so when you were analyzing the data, what data were you looking at particularly?

Eric Larnick 14:13

I mean, it was just kind of like, all aspects of the performance, like click rate, video views, you know, um, you know, for editorial content, you know, just like retention, you know, visual quality, like photography and video, like, headers, headlines. I mean, this is also stuff going back to my time at Huffington Post, because I can’t even there you are getting drill about SEO practices and headline practices and really, you know, AB testing everything. So, you know, like, it’s, you know, so I’ve had a couple, several different careers, you know, all kinds of drilling these kinds of like, techniques and communication strategies, and I think, yeah, it really just kind of like goes back to what you were saying just like, find like that personal connection and hone in on it, like find those unique details, find those things that really like emphasize the specific, unique personal element to this story. And, you know, just hone in on a drill it in and you’ll just kind of like, suck everyone in just emotionally, you know, like, you’re, you’re finding something that’s like so, core and identifiable, you know, in this case about a specific animal. About a chimpanzee, or a three legged dog, you know, or rescued pigeon living in an apartment, you know, and you really find, find out what makes them so unique, and just amplify it, and then it’s just like a job of content creation, you know, it’s just, I think it’s like, there’s just general best practices around like, good, you know, communication, you know, and having like, a really clear voice

Ben Freda 15:57

Clear voice for the platform, like for the, you know, so what would you say, I know I’m just taking a tangent on one side, but what would you say the voice of when we got to get into what that actually is? But yeah, organization you know, before People for Animals, when you were in the Sato Project, what was the voice would you say?

Eric Larnick 16:17

The Sato Project, it’s very easy to talk about. So the reason I jumped from The Dodo to the Sato Project, like I said, I just wanted to be on the other side of it. And the Sato Project was an organization that I had worked with at The Dodo. And the Sato Project, is, it was founded over a decade ago. I believe it’s in year 13 now. It’s founded by one woman, her name is Chrissy Beckles. She’s great, she’s a great mentor, great boss, and good friend. She is a firecracker. So in her previous lifetime, in her previous career, she was a boxer. She’s a Golden Gloves boxer.

Ben Freda 16:57

Okay, so you’re already doing the story thing, by the way. You’re getting you’re telling me you know, really specific, yeah, interesting details about this person. And now I’m thinking of this person in my mind. I see what you’re doing, man.

Eric Larnick 17:11

Chrissy, she’s a Golden Glove boxer, you know, and she, you know, she’s a fighter, and her husband’s a stuntman. And, on set in Puerto Rico and they were exposed firsthand to just how bad the stray dog and the stray pet stray dog stray cat epidemic is down there, you know, it’s just Puerto Rico is just so unfortunately, it’s just like, does not have the resources it needs to take care of its people take care of its animals. The people want, you know, good health care, and welfare for their animals. But it’s just, you know, there’s all sorts of infrastructural problems. That’s a whole other podcast I shoved into. Yeah, but anyway, so Chrissy, you know, she saw it, she couldn’t ignore it, you know, and so she just started to get hands on first as a volunteer just doing dog rescue, you know, as much as she could just. And you know, from there, you know, started as a volunteer, and then she was able to turn it into a career, and then she, you know, was able to found her own organization. And that’s what the Sato project is, and I gotta give you credit, Ben, for pronouncing it correctly, because people are not sure how to pronounce SATO, but you got it right. And Sato is kind of a local term for like, it’s a little pejorative. It’s like my stray. You know, and the Sato Project is about, you know, kind of like, reclaiming that word. You know, it’s like a badge of honor for the sharks of Puerto Rico. There’s over half a million stray dogs on the island. Yeah,

Ben Freda 18:43

What? How many people are there? It’s more than that.

Eric Larnick 18:47

Yeah, there’s more than that. But Island is the size of Connecticut.

Ben Freda 18:51

And there’s 500,000 stray dogs. My goodness.

Eric Larnick 18:54

Yeah. So I worked with Chrissy, you know, because she’s, you know, so the thing about the Sato Project that is her like, that is her lifeblood, and she approaches dog rescue, like boxing, you know, and she goes in and she takes hits, maybe not physically, but emotionally, you know, she has to deal with like dogs, I have gone through some really tough injuries and illnesses, you know, sadly, not all of them can pull through, but it’s all you know, it’s just that it’s just that rocky, it’s not about how many times you know, you get hit, it’s about how many times you get back up, you know, how many times you get knocked down, it’s time to get back up, you know, you just gotta keep fighting, you just gotta keep swinging. And, you know, that is her spirit overall. And that is like the spirit of the Sato Project.

You know, it’s very, and it’s grown, you know, it’s grown into a real organization that, you know, it has like a team employed, you know, on on both Puerto Rico and in Brooklyn, you know, to help coordinate this whole, this whole machine of rescuing dogs, getting them great veterinary care, and then bringing them transporting them to the to the mainland US and finding them homes with a doctor’s or getting them connected, like no kill rescue groups all along the east coast so that they can find forever homes. There’s just a whole machine going. And it’s all kind of, you know, it’s all built off the back of Chrissy and just her just her fighting spirit. And so the voice of the Sato Project is the voice of Chrissy. And just, you know, she, you know, she’s, she’s on the ground, literally, you know, she’s, she’s the one feeding the dogs, you know, you know, building up her trust, bringing them into our program. Y

ou know, the Sato Project has a facility in Puerto Rico, where they can help the dogs recover, you know, there’s pregnant dogs that they can give birth, they have like a maternity ward, you know, so like, she’s really built up, like a real, she’s built up something that, you know, the people of Puerto Rico wanted, but just, you know, we’re not given the means to, like, provide this kind of animal welfare. Sure. And so she’s really helped, you know, to help provide that for the community. And so yeah, the voice of the Sato Project, it’s just that it’s her fighting spirit voice, it’s her personal voice. And I think, you know, from like, I’m from there, you know, I was doing fundraising, and helping with communications. And, you know, the strategy, there was just, you know, help point Chrissy in the right direction, God, you know, kind of give her some let her know, when she’s got the microphone and be like, Alright, talk, tell the people what’s going on.

Ben Freda 21:33

And that, yeah, that’s really interesting. That’s really so that you, you thought you felt like that was your role to, like, get the voice directed in the right area.

Eric Larnick 21:42

Yeah, yeah, for sure. Like, you know, we would do things like, you know, I would just be like, I would call them like, the State of the Union address, like, you know, we just tell people what’s going on. Because things, man, there would always be something crazy going on whether it was a hurricane, or an, you know, something that like people don’t even realize, like, because people know about the hurricanes that have affected Puerto Rico. But Puerto Rico is also on a fault line. And so it’s also been really susceptible to earthquakes, which does not get as much coverage. Like it just gets hit after you know, damage after damage with like, natural disasters. And then with all of the economic infrastructure problems, you know, that there’s always like a crisis going on. And I don’t mean that in like, an eye rolling, exaggerating away like it is, it is crazy. They’re like, just how, how many hardships people have to you know, encounter, and yeah, how to navigate and, you know, people that man, they love their dogs, they love their cats, they love their pets, they want the best for them, you know, and they’re, they’re just struggling to make ends meet, you know, their houses that were never repaired after Hurricane Maria, and that was in 2017, you know, and they’re still just like, they still have just blue tarps instead of roofs. And it’s just like, man, that’s almost a decade ago. And yeah, these people deserve better. And, you know, they just want the best for their families and their pets are part of their families.

So just tell people this is what’s going on, you know, so they don’t forget, and, you know, it really is kind of a grassroots thing where, you know, without getting too you know, ranty or political or anything like that, you know, like there’s there isn’t the infrastructural support. So it really comes down to a community level of like, you know, help your neighbors help, you know, help these people in the community, you can’t count on anyone else to just do it for you. Like, you have to roll up your sleeves and right if you care, if you want to help then roll up your sleeves, and you can make a difference. You know, there’s no such thing as a small difference, like any difference matters. And it’s because it’s coming from a place of genuine heart. And, you know, whether it’s a financial donation, whether it’s volunteering a couple of hours, whether it’s just being like an advocate and helping, you know, raise awareness for what’s going on and helping spread news helping spread newsletters, like that’s all something that like, is really helpful.

Ben Freda 24:05

So yeah, this is great. And I see what you’re doing. I mean, I can see you kind of at work, you know, and I mean that in a really nice way like I can see, you are sort of using the voice telling the story. Let’s talk about specifics about fundraising. Because yes, okay, promise that I did promise that in the intro, yeah. Gotta give the people what they want, you know, for sure, and obviously, money, and getting funded finding sources of funds is obviously important to so many of our nonprofit clients, right, like so many of them need money. And some of it comes from grants, and some of it comes from donations or some of its big donors, small donors. With your experience with the Sato Project in particular, how did you raise money, what worked, what did not work if there were any things that did not work?

Eric Larnick 24:52

Ah, so I would say so it’s it’s a small team, you know, and I was like a one person fundraising unit there. I will say I was joined I, you know, after a couple of years, I was finally joined by a great colleague named Eden who, after I departed from the Sato Project, she kind of inherited my role. And I tried to pass on all of my secrets to her, so she could carry the baton. But before she came along, you know, it was like a one person operation in terms of fundraising. So it was like, kind of having to do everything. And you know, in terms of what worked, what didn’t work, you know, it’s just kind of like, I’m human, and what didn’t work is, you know, one person trying to do it all and that’s not possible. You know, the thing, the metaphor I use a lot, it’s like, you see on like, the old talent shows when someone’s doing the plate spinning routine, where they have all the plates on on the sticks, and they’re spinning them, and they’re just kind of like running back and forth to keep the ball spinning in motion. Right? Like that, that, that, that, yeah, that music is playing. That is, fundraising is, you know, you’re just kind of like spinning all the plates, whether it’s like, you know, individual donors who respond to your emails, whether it’s a grant, you know, whether it’s just like a rich celebrity, who knows who you are, and you have to kind of kiss their butt and court them a little bit. You know, you got to keep all the plates spinning, and it’s inevitable that a plates gonna fall on, it’s gonna break. And so you just got to start over and put another plate, you know, back into the routine.

But that’s, that, to me is like, what fundraising is, um, especially, I feel, I feel like a lot of organizations. I mean, there are like national organizations that have like, teams in place, and you know, sometimes, like, I’ve been to those buildings I’ve interviewed at those places, and I’m like, holy cow, like, you guys have so much stuff. Like, wait, you have all like, your whole infrastructure. Like, you have one person who just handles like email. It’s like, and yeah, that’s crazy. To me. I’ve never had that experience. I’ve always been like, No, I’m gonna handle in print, and social media and public relations and large donors, small donors, foundations, organizations, businesses, you gotta manage it all. So it is a plate spinning routine. You know, I think just like, when it hasn’t worked, it’s just because like, yeah, you know, you’re gonna try things.

And maybe it’s with, you know, a demographic or a sector that you haven’t had the in depth, like, active experience with, you know, so you try something and maybe it doesn’t click the way you wanted it to, maybe doesn’t connect with them. I would say like things that don’t work, it was never just like, oh, you know, it was never like a like an Ishtar level balm or anything like that. Yeah, right. dating myself with that movie reference. Madam web. There we go. Now I’m speaking, you know on that. Waterworld. Yeah, there you go. A Waterworld level bomb. Yeah. Nothing like that. Just kind of like, yeah, just you know, you’re human. And I bet a lot of people in like the fundraising sector are workaholics they care, you know, if you’re a non nonprofit is like a passion industry. You know, so like, you’re in it, because you’re passionate about it. And when you’re passionate about what you do for a living, you know, the, the line, the work life boundary lines get a little blurry, you know, the pressure you put on yourself for performance goals gets a little more intense, you know, so all that stuff gets a little bit more blurred, you know, you push yourself a little bit harder. So it’s natural that you know, you’re never going to be batting 1000. Of course, all the time.

Ben Freda 28:37

You’re going to try things that are going to work. Yeah, but that’s good. So you would encourage people to experiment with new demographics, new channels.

Eric Larnick 28:44

Yeah, so I would say so here’s what I would say, um, definitely always, like, strengthen your base. What I have found in all of my experiences, and different organizations I’ve worked with is like, your base is your base is your base for a reason. Like there’s, you know, like, they are your diehards, they’re the people that believe in what you do. They’re the people that were probably believing in what you do, what your organization does, before you even join the organization. You know, so like, always take care of them. Always nurture them, never take them for granted. Never forget about them kind of always continued to like, I know this is like a you know, just super serve them.

Ben Freda 29:29

And what does that look like in terms of super serving? What do you do specifically?

Eric Larnick 29:33

Well, then that is where it gets unique and different depending on what organization you are because like where I’m at now people for animals, you know, our our base, they follow People for Animals in a completely different way than the Sato Project. So Sato Project was very digitally driven. It did not really have Ah, like a much of a print following, where as, you know, a huge social media following where, you know, you put at, you know, it was kind of like you have to kind of, there was honestly, so much activity and so much interest and there was always so much happening on the ground in terms of dog rescue in Puerto Rico, that you kind of needed to keep social media updated, like, every day, you know, like a 365 job. Just because there’s always so much going on with specific individual dogs that, you know, are in our care, you know, sometimes they have ups, they have downs and their recovery, you know, and you have to document all of that. Now, with People for Animals, People for Animals has been around in New Jersey for over 40 years. And it does not have that big of a digital footprint. And you know, and that’s one of the great things about working with BFC is, you know, really helping us get the digital footprint we’re really sorely need. And BFC is doing a fantastic job at helping shape that footprint for us.

Ben Freda 31:06

That is awesome to hear. Oh, by the way, by the way, I really hope this, I don’t know when it’s gonna come out. But I hope this podcast episode comes out after the new site is launched. Because Oh, yeah,cuz you got I mean, you guys are an old organization that has been around for a long time. Obviously, your website was not really where you put the time and attention until you got there. I know that you’re there, this project that we’re doing with you guys has just been awesome. It’s gonna be so much better than what you have.

Eric Larnick 31:32

Yeah, I’m so excited. And the thing about People for Animals, like, People for Animals has been so focused on providing affordable, accessible veterinary care across New Jersey. And it’s like I said, it’s been around since 1980. And it’s really been driven by you know, just like the principle that, you know, spaying and neutering your dog or your cat. It’s like Bob Barker said, you know, it is like it is the first step to a lifetime of good health for your pet. And, you know, in the way that people have these struggles with accessible and affordable health care, it’s the same for our pets, pets are part of our family, we want the best health for them. And, you know, people for animals, this is going back to 1980 when this was like, not a concept people were even thinking about. People for Animals was focused on, we should make veterinary care as affordable and as accessible as possible for the people of New Jersey. So it’s, it’s always been very embedded in really trying to reach people directly in low income communities and working class communities.

And, you know, People for Animals, PFA, like, has a tremendous impact. You know, just kind of like talking about 2023, like, what did PFA do in 2023? You know, these aren’t even the final numbers like we still have to tabulate these but like we did at least 15,000 cats were spayed or neutered at our facilities, and that’s including over 5000 homeless cats that are part of like trap neuter return initiatives. We provided spay neuter surgeries for over 6000 dogs. And then we helped 15,000 families get wellness services like vaccines and preventatives and microchips for their pets. And this is all like, you know, we’re charging like 25 bucks for a microchip.

Ben Freda 33:28

The vet near my house in Manhattan is definitely 10 times that. I mean, at least like, yeah, it is not cheap.

Eric Larnick 33:36

So, you know, with People for Animals, you know, it’s always been very embedded in these communities. And it’s definitely, you know, delivering results on the work it does. And I would say, everyone, it’s a, it’s a great team, everyone is, so they’ve got their head down, and are so focused on just helping animals and helping these families. And I feel like when I came in, I’m like, oh, you know, I can help kind of focus on the fundraising and the communications because they’re busy doing the, like, life saving work. So like, now they have someone who can, like, just help be the megaphone, and yeah, celebrate and tell, and, you know, broadcast what’s actually being done. And so like, you know, PFA, like so much of its like, distribution channels, it’s all still print. It’s all still like postal mail, like we do, we do, you know, at the Sato Project, we would do one mailing a year like a big annual report of a year and review with the FA we do four times a year. So, you know, it’s like, every season every quarter, it’s like, what has PFA been up to in the last three months? So it’s a completely different, you know, communication strategy for me, you know, thinking like, Okay, I’ve got this one big, big campaign that I’m running once a year, and I think about it, you know, 11 months in advance, like I’m always kind of brainstorming in the back of my head. At PFA, I’m like, Oh, I got eight weeks till the next.

Ben Freda 35:05

When you send those out every quarter you get fundraising stuff back, right?

Eric Larnick 35:12

Oh, yeah, for sure. These are huge campaigns. And that’s the thing is like, we have, I think, you know, because PFA is digital footprint has, you know, a little bit, you know, has to get caught up to 2024 times, like, it’s kind of like, you know, I think it’s just about helping broadcast that, like, man, PFA has made, like, it’s continuously making this huge impact, it’s affecting so many families and so many animals so positively day in and day out. And there is actually this really passionate community of supporters that have been invested in it for decades. You know, like, they’ve, they’ve been bringing their, you know, family pets here since the 90s. You know, and they just, just still care about what we do. And it’s kind of like, it’s kind of just been like flying under the radar in terms of New Jersey and animal welfare. And it’s like, you know, we just need to, like, shine the light on this. And, you know, you know, tell people and broadcast it.

Ben Freda 36:10

You do. I mean, the only thing I’ll say is you guys, you guys are full, right? We know this from building the website and doing the builder and stuff. You guys get full fast. So what happens if you spread the word more? Well, you’re gonna have to open more clinics, do you?

Eric Larnick 36:27

That’s yeah, I mean, I will say this, you know, the directors, the leadership team, that PFA, they’re always very ambitious, and they just want to help more people. So the idea of expanding, they’re always on board for that, as long as there’s, you know, there’s money to pay for it, which I guess is my job. I guess that’s, you know, that’s my responsibility. But I’m just kind of like, yeah, sure, whatever. Yeah. You know, every time. Yeah, that’s, you know, you know, the director, you know, when she talks about, like, you know, so we have, we have three clinics now. So we have a clinic, and we’re able to serve North Central and South Jersey. Now we have clinics, you know, in all three sections of New Jersey, and, you know, there’s talk about when are we gonna open a fourth clinic? When are we going to a fifth clinic and you know, these are, these are big things, but there’s obviously like these ambitious plans. And or, you know, there’s ambitious plans to like expand the type of veterinary coverage we can provide to dogs and cats, you know, like we’re doing spay and neuter surgeries, and we’re doing vaccines and we’re doing preventatives, and we’re doing you know, wellness care, and then what other care can we provide them? And then it’s like, what other veterinary care can we provide to animals? There’s always more we can do. So everyone always has that kind of ambitious, like, just that ambitious drive to do more.

And, you know, every time there’s like some idea presented to me, I’m like, Yeah, okay, sure. Just like, go for it. Let’s go for it. Like, I’m not really like, pondering all of the implications about pain or anything like that. But I’m just like, I feel confident, because I feel like I am, you know, I just the indication I’ve gotten from, you know, our supporter base. It’s like, nothing feels daunting, because it’s like, this is what I mean, when I’m going back to saying, like, strengthen your base, because it’s like, I feel like I’m very in tune with who our bases are. And so I’m like, Oh, they’re on board. They’re super supportive. So any kind of new, big, daunting fundraising campaign that’s going to like, move the organization forward? I’m like, Well, I know what our base is and I know that we have our base of supporters in our corner. So like, I don’t feel pessimistic, let’s go for it.

Ben Freda 38:37

Yeah, for sure. For sure. That’s cool. So how else do you feed that base? So you’ve got mailers that you do every quarter?

Eric Larnick 38:46

Yeah, this is kind of like what you’re saying about, you know, trying new ways, you know, so like, I’m really trying to, like, broaden our digital footprint. You know, I’m really trying to bolster, you know, like our reach via email communication and social media and just trying to increase our presence, increase our voice. And, you know, like, the way I, you know, I don’t go crazy is like, I’m not trying to set these benchmarks. And then if I fail to hit them, like, I punish myself like, it’s kind of like, because I know, I’m keeping our base strengthened, I’m going to take a risk. I’m going to try something new. I’m going to try this social media campaign. And if the Social Media Campaign hits, great if it doesn’t hit, okay, that’s a learning lesson. Yeah, I still have the base. I still like our direct mail line. Like I’m still keeping that strengthened. It’s just kind of like, I’m not putting my eggs in any one basket and I feel like that’s the way to kind of find new supporters and expand and take risks.

Ben Freda 39:50

It’s almost like it’s all gravy at this point. You got that known base and you know how to deal you know how to how to feed that base, then you’re kind of finding potential areas of gross, and you got to think that, especially when you get, you know, new branding out there and stuff, do you have a lot of space to grow on social, right?

Eric Larnick 40:09

Like, yeah, and you know, something just like a great anecdotal thing that I’ve already been able to learn in my time at People for Animals is, um, you know, something that we are getting more increasingly involved with is humane advocacy on the state level. And, you know, that means, like actually advocating with state politicians about trying to improve animal welfare laws all across all the counties of New Jersey, you know, and so like, you know, we get involved with like, coalitions, our director was just like, speaking in front of the State Senate, back in December, you know, to rally in support of the compassion for community cats bill, which is also on the docket for the 2024 session.

And so, you know, something we have found, is, this is just like, great anecdotal evidence of like me, trying new things out, is finding out that like, hey, you know, like, our Facebook audience is actually, you know, they might not necessarily respond to pleas for monetary support. Right. You know, like, I’ve tried to, you know, not everything hits, you know, when I make like, a financial appeal over social media, but something that is like, consistently strong again, and again, is like, when we are asking for those advocacy calls to action, like, Hey, you can actually call up your local representative, like, we even give them like, just get here’s like, the copy paste statement, you need to give you all you need to do they rally for that.

And, you know, so like, it’s kind of discovering, like, hey, our Facebook audience, like, that’s actually a platform where we can actually really use to embolden all of the things we want to do for, you know, public advocacy for humane animal laws across New Jersey, because, you know, maybe those people who are following us on Facebook, for whatever reasons that you know, they might not have the means to donate financially, but what they feel like they can do is give their voice in support of the law. So when we put out that call to action, I know we can put that call to action out to our Facebook followers, because they are going to respond to it. Because in every instance that we’ve done it, they have responded big. So it’s like, it’s like identifying like, hey, here is like a channel for us that really can help serve, you know, this mission goal.

Ben Freda 42:35

That’s a great example. That’s such a good example. And it really is kind of a story that works. I mean, that’s yeah, that’s good. I wish we could keep talking forever. Because I feel like this is always what happens, these podcasts are like, I’ll have like, sort of 12 or 15 questions or things I want to ask. I probably looked at the questions like, first minute, you know, to me, I literally have not looked at the questions since then. There’s a bunch of other stuff to talk about, but we do know, obviously, everyone’s lives. Go on it before I let you go, though. Yeah, your pets. What’s your pet situation at your house?

Eric Larnick 43:09

Okay, it’s a literal Animal House. Um, so let’s see. Um, you know, we don’t have any dogs or cats. So, you know, my partner and I, we were apartment livers for a very long time. And, you know, had to deal with landlords who had no pet policies so all of our pets were small and quiet that we could sneak in. Like, we did, like, we couldn’t have pets, but we’ve still brought pets in, they just had to be like, okay, they can’t like poop in the yard. They can’t bark, you know, like, we had to be very quiet. And man, it was crazy. Like, I will even tell you like one time our landlord had to come in to just do an electrical inspection. And like, we literally had to take a tank of animals and put a blanket over them and hide them in the closet and be like, okay, he’s not going to open the closet. And then he opened the closet and he was completely oblivious that there was a pet, a tank of animals at his foot. Because he was looking up at the wiring and it was like, oh my God call evicted. Almost evicted.

No, but yeah, well, we’ve recently upgraded so now like our pets are to aquariums full of fish and had a pair of frogs that have since passed on rest in peace to Biggie and Smalls. You know, my my, my my girlfriend, she’s a botanist. So, you know, we have a native plant yard and we’re active birders and we have a nature thruway in our backyard. So like our backyard is just like, to me, it is like a paradise. It’s always filled with birds and critters like skunks and possums and foxes and then wow, our neighborhood. You know, we have stray cats in our neighborhood. So I am doing my best to take care of the stray cats in my neighborhood. I built huts for them to keep them warm in the winter. I know they see them sleep and eat there. I give them water so they stay refreshed. I’ve tried to feed them and they do not want to. I know there are other people on our street that are feeding them, because I always try to feed them and they just sniff and stick their nose up at it. Like they’re chubby, and they’re well fed. I know they’re getting fed elsewhere. And they do not want what I’ve tried a couple of defeats, oh, they don’t want it. So I have like, I’m just like, I’m trying, I want them to just like, I want to be their friend and I’m trying my best. And then I also have a lizard, a rescued lizard. He’s 12 years old. And he’s doing well because he’s my best friend. My lizard. His name is Ryback, which is a very unique name. And there’s a story behind that.

Ben Freda 45:44

Tell them before we go, tell us the story.

Eric Larnick 45:47

The 60-second story of why is my lizard named Ryback? Okay, so when we moved in, he was smuggled out of a pet store that was not taking care of him. It was my girlfriend’s cousin’s girlfriend, she worked at a pet store. And this lizard was not being taken care of. And he, they were just going to shock them. It’s really horrible to say, but they’re just gonna be like, and so she smuggled them out being like, I don’t know what to do. Like, she just couldn’t let that happen. So then we took him in. And so we took in this little baby lizard and he had some injuries and he had some illnesses and he wasn’t doing well. And he really needed to get his strength back. And as you know, at the time, we were watching WWE Monday Night Raw wrestling. And at the time, 12 years ago, there was this big meathead pro wrestler named Ryback. Okay, muscles on top of muscles. And his whole thing was like, he eats the competition, you know. His catchphrase was like feed me more. It was just like he had like everything was about eating to get him like bulkier and that’s what you wanted for the lizard. Yeah, he needed to get up a strip like he couldn’t even really eat bugs they would like fight back and fight him back. So he really needed to have some like he needed some big wrestler energy he needed that like feed me more strength he needed to bulk up. So he needed that pro wrestler spirit and he got it and now he’s a big chunky boy because he’s an apex predator. She has a pro wrestler mentality. So he earned that name.

Ben Freda 47:27

Okay, that is a great story. Okay, cool. All right. Well, I’m sure that otherwise the listeners would be like, come on, you have to tell us the story of this. Yeah. Listen, that was so helpful and so useful for me personally, just to learn how you do these things. Where can people find more about you and People for Animals?

Eric Larnick 47:46

Okay, well, I, let’s see, well, for People for Animals our website is and BFC is helping us you know, with a great new website and cannot wait to share it, it’s gonna be so, so great looking. And it’s just going to be able to broadcast everything that we do for the communities of New Jersey. That’s You can also find us on Facebook,, and all in one word.I myself, I don’t have much of a digital footprint anymore. Now that I’m not working in publishing. But I’ll tell you what, my Letterboxd Cam pages because I’m a movie lover in my spare time. You can find me on Letterboxd at, L-A-R-N-O-C-K. And you can find out all my weird esoteric movie watching habits in my reviews. I watch thousands of movies. And that’s where I’m still a nerd. That’s how I unwind after a day of animal welfare. I’m just like, Oh, yes, something from 1960 with Christopher Lee never saw him before, gonna watch it.

Ben Freda 48:58

There you go. This has been our podcast episode with movie nerd, Eric. There you go. Anyway, thank you so much for coming in. Really good to talk to you.

Eric Larnick 49:06


Outro 49:09

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