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SPCA Tampa Bay CEO talks social enterprise and the importance of collective messaging [Audio]

Megan Holmes



SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden and her foster dog Chico have become local celebrities. Chico goes up for adoption soon. (Photo courtesy of SPCA Tampa Bay Facebook)

Click the arrow to listen to St. Pete Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton’s audio interview with Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay. 

At the St. Pete Catalyst, we’re always interested in how nonprofit organizations are applying “for-profit” business lessons to their “for-good” organizations. This marriage of purpose and problem-solving utilizing a market approach is known as social enterprise.

Under the leadership of CEO Martha Boden, SPCA Tampa Bay has embraced social enterprise, expanding its offerings from Largo to Tampa Bay’s fastest growing cities, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

For years, Boden and her staff considered multiple mechanisms of self-sustaining funding, including an animal hospital, a boarding facility, even a pizza parlor. But in 2016, SPCA Tampa Bay opened a 10,000 square foot full-service veterinary facility and spay/neuter clinic in St. Petersburg. The clinic provides a full spectrum of animal care at market rate to those who can afford it, and uses those funds to drive its larger mission at its facility in Largo. Thanks to SPCA’s donor network, the clinic can also offer donation-funded care for animals in need.

Boden’s experience in the corporate world working for titans like American Express and Accenture has helped her create greater impact in the animal welfare world. Leading up to the 2016 launch of the SPCA Tampa Bay – St. Petersburg clinic, Boden worked to convene existing veterinary practices around the mission she envisioned for SPCA’s facility. Rather than to compete for clients with those veterinarians, Boden says SPCA Tampa Bay sought to work in a symbiotic way, preserving clients’ relationships with veterinarians while at the same time working to fill in the gaps. SPCA Tampa Bay serves as a financial referral for veterinarians when their clients need more care than they could afford at a normal clinic.

Boden talks the origins behind the SPCA veterinary clinic, the state of animal welfare nonprofit ecosystem locally, and the importance of collective messaging. “In the animal welfare world, mergers and acquisitions, and at least deeper collaborations are absolutely the word of the day,” Boden said. “We’re all looking at how we can reduce the impact on the community from the standpoint of asking for resources, while expanding our impact in terms of delivering services.”

“We have in this community at least five organizations that have brick and mortar animal shelter facilities … do we all need to have a CEO, a head development person, an accounting person, a shelter manager, a veterinarian; or could we be looking at a better allocation of resources?

“There is a really healthy dialogue going on now, all around the country and in this community as well, about what are things that we can do that make more sense and better meet the needs of the community without creating duplication.”

Click the arrow to listen to hear the full conversation between St. Pete Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton and SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden.

Click here for more information about Chico and how to adopt. 

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