For our October small business spotlight, we spoke with Amanda Lollar, Founder and President of Bat World Sanctuary.
Bat World Sanctuary is a Texas nonprofit organization founded by Amanda Lollar. Bat World Sanctuary’s mission is to promote the humane treatment of bats in captivity, provide permanent sanctuary for non-releasable bats, protect and conserve wild bat colonies, and educate the public about the importance of bats. With her mission, Amanda has educated countless others around the world about bats to explain how vital they are to our ecosystem and help get rid of the stigma behind bats.
Can you tell me a little bit about your organization?
Bat World Sanctuary is a rescue center and sanctuary for bats, similar to a primate sanctuary. Our goal is to rescue and release as many bats as possible. We’ve rescued bats from zoos, the exotic pet trade, and research facilities, as well as bats that are orphaned or injured. We try our best to get them healthy and release them. If we can’t release them, then we provide them permanent sanctuary.
We rescue anywhere from 500 – 5,000 bats each year with the goal of saving as many bats as possible that would die otherwise without our care and help.
What made you decide to start Bat World Sanctuary?
I founded the organization back in 1988, back when I owned a furniture store with my mom. It all started when I saw an injured bat laying on the sidewalk. I couldn’t see it suffer and brought her back with me by scooting the bat onto a newspaper with the toe of my shoe.
To help nurse her back to health, I checked out books on bats from the library and learned how to heal her. During the rescue process, I fell in love with the species and wanted to continue helping bats and show everyone else how beneficial they are to our environment and world.
What’s your favorite part of running your organization?
I have so many favorite parts, but my favorite thing is the healing we do. We rescue bats that may spend a good portion of their lives miserable and give them a better life at the sanctuary or heal and release them.
Recently, we rescued a little fruit bat that was in solitary confinement for 12 years. When we rescued him, he had never seen another bat and had been taken from his mom at a very young age. He’s been here over a year now and seeing his progress is so rewarding. He went from being petrified of other bats and his surroundings to flying, snuggling with his roostmates, and being social.
I love how we can take a bat from being mentally scared or physically hurt and heal it.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
When I started the organization, it was before internet popularity or the internet at all, making it more difficult to start this type of organization. Getting a nonprofit off the ground with an animal that people loathe and trying to get support was extremely challenging. And, it can still be challenging with the stigma of bats.
It was also hard to get financing when I first started out. I owned the furniture store building and remortgaged it to help stay afloat. But, I eventually turned things around, and got the financial support I needed.
How does Patriot’s Full Service Payroll help you run your organization?
We love Patriot Payroll. It’s so easy to use and makes running payroll simple. We are also a really big fan of the name.
When it comes to your organization, what are you most proud of?
The way we’ve grown and the progress we’ve made over the years. I’m really proud of how we’ve gone from rescuing a single tiny bat to evolving into a worldwide rescue that helps save hundreds of bats every year.
What words of advice do you have for others hoping to start their own nonprofit or business?
You have to believe in what you’re doing and be willing to work from the minute you wake up until the second you get into bed. You have to work hard until you accomplish what you’re trying to do. This may mean jumping over multiple obstacles, but you take care of obstacles and keep going. You also definitely have to believe in your dream and involve yourself in a lot of self sacrifice, like getting four hours of sleep a night because you can’t afford to hire an employee or thrifting your clothes to save money. Ultimately, if you really want it, you have to be willing to make sacrifices, beat obstacles, and truly believe in what you’re doing.
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