With more than 57,000 charities in Australia, there are thousands of fantastic stories about the impact charities have on their community.

We recently spoke with registered charity Smart Pups Assistance Dogs For Special Needs Children Inc about their work, their biggest challenge and the importance of donors and volunteers.

What does your charity do?

Smart Pups Assistance Dogs proudly specialise in the provision of Service Dogs, specifically trained to assist and enhance the lives of children with special needs. We improve the quality of life for children with special needs and their families by providing trained assistance dogs Australia-wide. Trained in task-specific skills, our Smart Pups Assistance Dogs have a profound effect on the lives of children with special needs by reducing anxiety, alerting to imminent seizures, assisting with routines of everyday living, increasing community acceptance, and providing the loving companionship of a furry best friend for life.

What is the ultimate goal for your charity?

Our long term vision is that every child in Australia living with a diagnosed special need such as autism, seizure, mobility and diabetes related syndromes will have access to the security and companionship of a Smart Pup Assistance Dog. Since 2011, Smart Pups have placed almost 160 highly trained Assistance Dogs with families right across Australia.

What is the biggest challenge faced by your charity?

Smart Pups receives no government funding and as more people learn of the tremendous benefits of a Smart Pups Assistance Dog, the demand continues to grow – with around 100 families currently waiting for their Assistance Dog. We find that we can’t always support everyone who seeks our assistance. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as a short supply of volunteers and qualified staff, what funding we have available and the fact that we are already at capacity.

How important is the support of donors and volunteers to your charity?

It costs around $30,000 to train and place an Assistance Dog with a special needs child. Smart Pups receives no government funding, so to cover the costs we pursue partnerships, sponsorships and donations. Our clients help with fundraising activities, as volunteers for Smart Pups, and donate the funds raised to help cover the costs of training a Smart Pup for their child.

How have the ACNC's resources assisted your charity?

The ACNC's resources have been very useful for our organisation, particularly to access the latest data and to gain a greater understanding of the changing landscape. We also use various templates and resources including the Registered Charity Tick and the self-evaluation tool.

Find out more about Smart Pups Assistance Dogs For Special Needs Children Inc on their website, or via their social media channels:

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