Devotees of Shark Tank are familiar with the question quivering entrepreneurs are often asked: what makes your product so special and unique that somebody else couldn’t just copy it and offer it for a few cents less, putting you out of business?
In our heads, we shout back the answer in Rescue Chocolate’s case. Try it! Because that would mean even more money in the pockets of animal rescue organizations, which is our dream. (Besides, we don’t think anyone else could quite duplicate our scrumptious flavors, so we’re not going anywhere.)
Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of companies replicating our model. We LOVE that their missions include a donation component for the animals. Here are some of our favorites:
The Little Pine Restaurant in Silver Lake, California is a 100% organic vegan bistro, created by the musician Moby. It offers brunch, dinner, and afternoon tea, with all proceeds going to animal welfare organizations.
Sew Craftie is an ultra-creative little operation based in Flint, Texas. Proceeds from the sale of their quilts, dresses, Easter baskets, microwave mitts, kitchen towels, and other handmade items are donated to the SPCA of East Texas.
The Tree Kisser shop and blog are run by designer Jessica Schlueter. She donates 10% of her sales to the Love Infinitely Project Animal Fund, which in turn disperses money to animal rescue or advocacy organizations. Patrons can pick up tees, tanks, sweatshirts, totes, gift cards, and more.
Top naming honors go to Grounds & Hounds Coffee Company, where “every pound saves a hound.” The coffee is, of course, fair-trade and organic. The company’s donations are earmarked for no-kill rescue organizations which provide safe havens for pups between homes.
Hendrick & Company has partnered with more than 600 shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries across America to help animals in need. The donations come from sales of the company’s jewelry, apparel, accessories, and pet products. Founded by David Hendrickson, the business is based in Orange County, California.
Organic Wine Lounge (OWL) began as a vegan-friendly wine brand, but it has now morphed into a fashion brand as well. A portion of the proceeds from every sale go to animal rescue groups.
Sticking with wine, there’s the Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group. A dollar from each bottle sold online goes to one of the company’s Loyal Companion animal shelter or rescue group partners. Just a few of the organizations on the list include Freedom Service Dogs, Guardians of Rescue, Western Border Collie Rescue, and Adopt a Lab.
For non-alcoholic liquid refreshment, check out Margo’s Bark. This company makes an all-natural cane sugar-based root beer, and all profits go toward helping shelter dogs. There are tee shirts and hoodies too.
Greener Pup makes eco-friendly dog and cat beds whose fillings are made out of 100% recycled plastic. Profits are donated to the Ace of Hearts Foundation which is dedicated to rescuing dogs the day they are scheduled to be euthanized and finding them permanent, loving homes.
In keeping with the animal-products-for-animal-donations theme, there’s WoofTags. The company offers colorful and differently shaped ID tags that won’t wear out as quickly as the more common vending-machine variety. All of the company’s profits are devoted to helping homeless dogs and cats.
Finally, getting super close to home, we’d like to mention Safe Harbor Confections which donates all profits to animal welfare organizations, just like we do. And, just like us, they purvey handcrafted dark chocolate made in small batches. However, they differ from Rescue Chocolate in that they do offer non-vegan products as well.
If you know of any other companies in the animal rescue category that haven’t made our list, please let us know about them so that we can be sure to support them all. This is one area where we definitely don’t want to crush the competition!
As most animal rescuers know, love at first sight is real. There’s no way to prove it scientifically, but we’ve all experienced it.
Of course all the pooches and kitties pull at your heartstrings as they press their noses through the wire cages at the shelter. But there’s that one, the little one (or the big one) in the corner, with the white (or black, or brown) fur, and the sweetest hazel (or black or brown) eyes, and the floppy (or straight) ears…. That’s the ONE who grabs your heart, paralyzes your legs, constricts your lungs, scrambles your brain--and suddenly you’re hopelessly in love.
We want every visitor to the shelter to get that feeling, and act on it. The adoption form is filled out in a flash, the forever home is prepared, and we rejoice.
But what happens when that certain furry someone attracts more than a single suitor? What if there are two or three or more adoptive families vying for the same animal? Unfortunately, we’ve all seen a lot of this phenomenon too. One animal and adopter is the winner, and the human losers slink off, perhaps never to cross the threshold of the shelter ever again.
It’s a shame, because all the animals who didn’t manage to catch an adopter’s eye are still there and still so worthy of finding good, loving homes.
So it’s high time to publicize the existence of other unscientific but completely real forces in the universe: “Love at Second Sight.” And “Love at Third Sight.” Even “Love at 47th Sight.” Or however many sightings it takes!
The truth is that love doesn’t always arrive in a blinding flash. Sometimes it takes a few get-to-know-you visits, taking place over a series of days or weeks or months. Sometimes the spark of attraction doesn’t ignite for awhile. But when it finally does leap into flames, it is just as passionate and blissful as spontaneous combustion, or even more so.
We wish we could tell everyone shopping at shelters: If your first love has already gone… yay! You now have an opportunity to fall in love all over again, and save another life. Give ‘em all another look.
Any one of those animals can be the best, most lovable companion ever.
Rescue is always right, right? Not necessarily. We have learned that sometimes a group will call itself an animal rescue when in fact it is a backyard breeding operation, pure and simple. And dog- and cat-breeding is the last thing we would ever want to support!
For the first several years of Rescue Chocolate’s existence, we prided ourselves on supporting any rescue group that came to our attention. If the group wished to partner with us on fundraising, we were happy to oblige. We offered $1 back for each product purchased by their members on our website. We also sold our products in bulk to them at below-wholesale rates for Girl Scout cookie-type drives. We didn’t ask for proof of 5013(c) status—the Internal Revenue Service’s benchmark for a non-profit organization. Instead, we trusted that animal rescuers were good-hearted souls, with or without the legal paperwork.
But we changed our policy when we learned how easy it is for conniving people to christen themselves with a cute animal-oriented moniker and then sell to the unsuspecting public their “rescued” kittens and puppies—animals which they purposely bred in often inhumane conditions, á la puppy mills. This deviousness runs counter to everything we believe!
Now we are careful to insure that the groups we support are legitimate rescues. The 501c(3) status is helpful. We also investigate how long the group has been around, what its website looks like, how active it is on social media, and the strength of its track record in placing truly homeless animals. We still want to be able to assist small, grassroots groups. But we know our customers want the assurance that we are only donating to animal heroes, not animal exploiters.
We hope that when you are ready to adopt, you will do your homework as well. Make sure the group from which you are acquiring your new best friend is in fact the rescue that it purports to be. If there is a ragtag bunch of puppies in crates on a street corner, and a rough “Cutie’s Rescue” sign tacked up somewhere nearby, be suspicious. When the clues are not quite that obvious, it is important to do due diligence.
The quickest way to put unscrupulous breeders out of business is not to patronize them. That’s one more strategy in our arsenal for achieving no-kill status nationwide!
We love finding the names of rescue groups in the Note field of our online orders, because that means we have the opportunity to send out special donations.
For those who don’t know, one of the ways we partner with animal rescue groups for fundraising is our write-in program. The groups urge their members, supporters, co-workers, friends, and family to purchase Rescue Chocolate online, typing in the name of the group with which they are affiliated. We count up the products in those orders and donate $1 per product to the group at the end of every month.
We value each group that participates. But, here are a few we’d especially like to highlight:
If you’ve got a favorite animal rescue organization with plenty of busy social networkers and chocolate-eaters, let us add it to our roster of fundraising partners!