Tis the season for giving or taking (advantage)

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Tis the season for giving or taking (advantage)

Date: 
Thu, 12/19/2013

New HumaneWatch.org report reveals continued inaction by HSUS when it comes to aiding animals by funding shelters.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard's Dairyman Online Media Manager

kittenAds for dogs and cats in undesirable conditions make many of us uncomfortable. They are followed by requests for pledges of money to help stop the cycle of neglect. Our heart wants to help, but are we really helping if we contribute? How much is actually going to help those sick animals if you contribute to Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? – Less than 1 percent of all money raised by HSUS! The rest goes to employee pensions, to the tune of $2.4 million just last year, advertising, fundraising, salaries, lobbying and other nonpet-shelter-related budget priorities. One dollar of every $100 you donate.

But, why do people continue to donate?

Eighty-seven percent of HSUS supporters (1,050) were unaware of the 1 percent contribution to animal shelters! Even after learning that just 1 percent of their donation goes to help animals, at least 41 percent would still support HSUS.

Is it guilt? Are there no other options that can help animals?

There are certainly other options, like the local animal shelters in your area, who are feeling the pinch of HSUS’s successful fundraising. HSUS is taking money from well-intentioned donators and in turn, it is not donated to the local shelter. A recent poll of 400 animal shelters, rescues and animal control agencies found that 84 percent of respondents agree with the statement that ”fundraising by HSUS and the ASPCA makes it harder for my shelter to raise money.”

The full report, “Not Your Local Humane Society,” is available online, and includes an accounting of all grants to local pet shelters made by HSUS during the years 2009-2012. All data is drawn directly from HSUS’s Form 990 tax returns filed annually with the IRS.

Aside from HSUS, what about the random calls for disaster relief, cancer research, pets, veterans or children that we receive – all are “hot buttons” for those of us with any compassion. Of course, who would not want to help these causes? But, where is the money really going – is it just 1 percent to those they claim to help?

I have asked those type of solicitors what percent goes to the cause. In the past, one solicitor vaguely replied, “70/30”. My response is what part is your part, the 30 or the 70? “The 70 ma’am.”

After learning that information, it is up to you to decide if that is where you want to spend your money. Very few organizations donate all the money to the cause, because they have overhead to cover such as staff salaries, office space, mailings, supplies and so forth.

What are some other options? Youth programs are constantly having their budgets reduced. They try to do more with less.

Giving to others obviously benefits the recipient, but the contributor also gets a warm spot for helping others. If you are able and chose to donate this season, give from the heart and help those in need, and not those in “greed.”

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The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.

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