Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States refers to itself as “the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization.”
The HSUS is involved in many animal rights causes – it works on issues involving domesticated animals, farm animals, animals in captivity, and animals used in research. If nothing else, you probably recognize the HSUS from its tear-jerking television commercials showing starved puppies while Sarah McLachlan sings in the background.
The HSUS is a 501(c) nonprofit organization. For all the good will people tend to associate with the HSUS, a number of watchdog groups say the organization is actually an extremely poor steward of donations.
In 2012, the HSUS reported $125,763,492 in revenue. These donations came from around 11 million Americans. Despite the HSUS’s impressive donation pull, the organization sent just 1 percent of its budget to animal shelters. Watchdog organization HumaneWatch.org published this finding after analyzing the HSUS’s tax returns.
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Well-respected charity evaluator organization Charitywatch.org backs up these claims. Charity Watch found the HSUS spends just 55 percent of funds on charitable programs. For some perspective, Charity Watch’s top-rated charities all spend at least 75 percent of their funds on programs. Charity Watch also found the HSUS spends 42 cents to yield a dollar in fundraising money. Top-rated charity organizations spend no more than 25 cents to raise a dollar. All together, the HSUS’s inefficient operating earned them a C- grade from Charity Watch.
If the HSUS spends only 1 percent of its budget helping animal shelters, what does the rest of its money go toward? Let’s take a look.
According to Humane Watch, the HSUS spent $50 million of donated funds on fundraising in 2012 – good for 41 percent of its budget. The organization put $2.9 million into its pension plan, which is, again, significantly more than it spent helping animal shelters. The HSUS gave $7.4 million in funds to Quadriga Art, an organization that was investigated by two separate states last year in connection with charity scams. Despite giving just $1 million in grants to animal shelters, the HSUS had 38 employees on payroll in 2012 that earned over $100,000.
Added all up, it looks like giving to the HSUS is far from the most effective way to help animals in need. You’re much better off donating your time, money, or both to a local animal shelter.
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Here, courtesy of Humane Watch, is a visual representation showing just how little money the HSUS sends to animal shelters across the country: