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@JamesHereea Couldn't agree more. An excellent source for donating internationally is Animal People News, the official publication for animal advocates. The publisher, Kim Bartlett, is a genius and there is so much to learn from 20 years of Animal People, all online.
Start with the current issue, which is one of the very best in a long time. Tons of information on overseas groups, many of which you've never heard of, as they are too busy saving animals to beg for money and publicity 24/7/365. Soi Dog Foundation and Animals Asia, another wonderful organization, are there as well.
1 year ago on SPCA International Going to the Dogs?
Dawn, I know you are not OK with the HSUS raising Katrina-level money on Sandy, while spending a small fraction of it on the intended purpose. I was asking if Great Nonprofits and Charity Navigator were OK with it. The answer appears to be yes. And since Charity Navigator is a big part of every HSUS sales pitch and press release, HSUS has made them part of the opposing view.
Sandy is nowhere near the disaster for animals that Katrina was. It is the biggest human disaster since Katrina, and the fact that the HSUS is listed in so many media articles as one of the top charities to give to you shows the aggressiveness and chutzpah of Pacelle and the HSUS media hounds - and the damage caused by Charity Navigator's mistake.
What HSUS did and failed to do after Katrina was deplorable. Countless animals died as a result. HSUS didn't have a competent disaster expert in 2005, and they do not have one today. After their Gulf Coast debacle and resulting AG investigation, HSUS hired a few disaster professionals like Allen Schwartz and Randy Graves. Between 2006 and 2009, they, and other Emergency Response team members, complained that HSUS was exploiting cruelty cases for fundraising and publicity - and worse, impersonating law enforcement officials. Graves warned that this would result in lawsuits. (One very strong $5 million suit for an illegal HSUS raid and seizure, will be going to trial soon.) All 12 emergency team members quit in 2009, and some were brave enough to speak out about their horrible experience working for HSUS. Since 2010, there have been several interim staffers running the disaster department, hardly what you would expect from the self-proclaimed "leading disaster agency for animals." The HSUS Hurricane Sandy response involves temporary, makeshift shelters for displaced pets, coordinating the assistance of unaffiliated first responders (HSUS implies that these experts are HSUS staff), and handing out large amounts of pet food (all donated by corporations). There is nothing wrong with any of this, except that HSUS is raising Katrina-level dollars for a relatively low-budget operation. To make it seem like a bigger, more expensive effort, HSUS is claiming to have rescued thousands of animals, provided 2 million pet meals, and ventured out on boats to save lives. They did the same thing in the Gulf Coast - both to rake in donations and to justify the raking in of those donations. HSUS helped rescue around 2,000 Katrina animals and reunited 210 with their owners. HSUS took credit for rescuing 10,000 animals and reuniting 2,500.
In the aftermath of Katrina, HSUS was the first and most aggressive organization as far as getting out their donation pitch to thousands of media outlets, videotaping and pitching dozens of feel-good stories, and using mass email solicitations, telefundraising and celebrity PSAs. In 2012, their online fundraising capacity is much greater. Pacelle sees this as an another Katrina publicity coup, an opportunity to raise Red Cross level donations, and reimage their tarshished brand as a kind of animal Red Cross.
HSUS raised $34.6 million for Katrina and defended against impending criminal charges with the (technically legal) argument that only money specifically earmarked for Katrina had to be used for Katrina ($5.5 million). Similarly, their Sandy pitch indicates that the money can be used for future disasters. In HSUS's case, that means it will disappear into their bank accounts and pension fund, pay for sleazy fundraising vendors, go to waste for Wayne Pacelle's losing political and litigation warfare, and defend against current, serious RICO charges recently greenlighted by a Federal Judge. The overfunded Red Cross has a better justification for the "future disasters" clause: the Red Cross is a disaster relief agency. HSUS is anything but. Disasters and high profile cruelty cases like Michael Vick, are their greatest cash cows and media magnets. Definition: a cash cow "generates unusually high profit margins: so high that it is responsible for a large amount of the company's operating profit. This profit far exceeds the amount necessary to maintain the cash cow business and the excess is used by the business for other purposes." How many people are writing the words "to be used for Hurricane Sandy" on their donation forms? And HSUS isn't a tax-paying, business.
HSUS isn't running a Hurricane Sandy fundraising campaign, it is running an HSUS fundraising campaign using Hurricane Sandy as the hook. Very few people donating realize that their contributions are unlikely to benefit victims of this disaster. With $200 million in the bank, some of it still earning interest from Katrina, HSUS could have easily funded their NY/NJ relief work without a single sales pitch. Instead, they are, as always, turning it into a moneymaking opportunity. I believe that HSUS may actually raise MORE than $35 million for Hurricane Sandy. Whatever the total is, it far, far exceeds the amount necessary. And that will divert much-needed donations away from good animal organizations and charities in all fields.
In response to a comment by a woman named Marilyn Reese on Huffington Post regarding HSUS's use of Sandy donations for other disasters, HSUS rep "Del Jake" responded: "If you are talking about Hurricane Sandy, how many millions should they put out for one storm and then have nothing in reserve for the next puppy mill bust or farm animal cruelty case?"
HSUS should - and will - be asked to provide a detailed accounting and timeline of money taken in for this disaster and money spent on it. No vague information/approximations, no lowballing the amount of donated dollars. Facts, documentation and verification. It's not about dead dogs this time, but donated dollars and donor intent. That is what should be discussed with the media and AG's offices.
2 years ago on Help Victims of Superstorm Sandy
HSUS's Hurricane pitch mentions Charity Navigator love - and adds a disclaimer that donations will be used for Sandy and future disasters. HSUS considers farm animal cruelty cases and dogfighting as disasters. And you're OK with this?
Nathan Winograd had a great post about how Pacelle uses Humane Watch to play the victim and perpetuate the myth that HW is their only critic. They also exploit Charity Navigator in a similar way, milking the dumb 4 star rating as a defense and shield to deflect attention every time they lie, cheat and steal, which is every day. Charity Navigator is angry that they have been criticized for their rewarding of HSUS's cooking their tax returns. That's why Great Nonprofits named HSUS the number one charity for this disaster. Charity Navigator and it's puppets, like Grest Nonprofits, don't want to improve their methodology and they are willing to help HSUS fleece the public in order to punish THEIR critics.
How much money did the Humane Society of the United States pay to get their scandal-tainted name on the top-rated list? The $200 million HSUS is not based in the New York area, runs no shelters, earns a D grade from Charity Watch and a similar rating (46% of income spent on overhead) from Animal People newspaper. The HSUS reviews/ratings on Great Nonprofits are far from stellar, even with numerous scripted 5-star reviews from paid employees and sanity-challenged acolytes.
HSUS may have a few volunteers on the scene for animal rescue photo-ops, but certainly does not need to fundraise for that. Neither does the mega-wealthy ASPCA, though that group is not in the same sleaze-league as HSUS, which was investigated by the Louisiana Attorney General for Hurricane Katrina fraud. Prospective donors should contact the Consumer Protection division of the AG's office for verification of that.
Followers of GreatNonprofits: Know that HSUS funnels around $10 million a year to an outfit called Quadriga Art for direct mail fundraising. Quadriga was recently exposed by CNN and Charity Watch and is now under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee for illegal fundraising practices. Animal lovers who donate to HSUS can expect to be on Quadriga's sucker list for begging letters and junk gifts indefinitely. Don't forget to thank Great Nonprofits and Charity Navigator for that. Way to go, inept ones.
Sorry for the delay in answering your questions. CharityWatch.org, described by the New York Times, Newsweek, Smart Money and the Wall Street Journal as the only watchdog with teeth, gives the HSUS a D. Their website lists the top charities (grades B+ and higher) in each category. (For the complete lists, you have to join.) The ASPCA gets a C- and PETA a C+. HSUS subsidiary, the Fund for Animals, gets a D and the Fund's crown jewel, Black Beauty Ranch, was cited for cruel conditions by the USDA. Fund founder Cleveland Amory would be spinning in his grave if he knew how HSUS has exploited his name and image for fundraising and publicity. Amory detested HSUS and became disenchanted with Wayne Pacelle's self-aggrandizement and betrayal of ethical animal advocates. If you are interested in animal charities in particular (I personally give more to those than any other type), order the annual Animal People Newspaper Watchdog Report for Animal Protection Charities - it is just $25. Everything else they do is available for free on their site. Animal People is fair and balanced in it's coverage of HSUS, which is major advertiser, but does give HSUS the equivalent of a D grade for spending just around 55% of it's revenue on programs. And those "programs" include Hollywood award galas, selling $20 Euthanasia Manuals and $350 Euthanasia Training videos/CD Roms to KILL shelters, and filing lawsuits to silence critics. North Shore Animal League spends a lot on fundraising, but the money it does spend on programs involves direct care at the largest No-Kill shelter in America and the adoption of tens of thousands of animals a year. I donate to Humane Farming Association, Animal People, Animals Asia, Nathan Winograd's No Kill Advocacy Center, the International Primate Protection League, International Aid for Korean Animals. and Red Rover, which does much of the disaster relief and emergency rescue/sheltering work HSUS steals credit for. And check out Animal Rescue New Orleans. HSUS stole credit for and solicited contributions based on ARNO's Katrina work, then refused their requests for meaningful financial assistance. Go to "990 Finder" and search for any animal charity. Read past page one (Charity Navigator doesn't bother) and on page 8 or so, you can see the 5 highest paid outside contractors - mostly direct mailers and telemarketers (HSUS calls them charitable services). The best charities uses few or none. The Humane Farming Association, for example, does 100% of it's fundraising, using no solicitation firms at all. Go forward to the list of grants (for the national groups) and learn the truth about where donations really go. Donate accordingly.
Before 2005, The BBB regularly flunked HSUS for spending a ton of money on fundraising. When Pacelle took over, the books started getting cooked till burnt, The BBB relies on complaints from the public to detect fraud, and after getting a lot of evidence, did warn HSUS to stop lying about their true fundraising expenses or they would flunk the 2008 report. HSUS doubled their reported fundraising costs for 2008, the BBB said OK, we'll give you a carrot instead of a stick. Charity Navigator, (mindlessly) inserted the increased fundraising figures into their robo formula and HSUS lost their 4 star rating for 2008 and 2009. Of course, when the coast was clear, HSUS went back to their old creative accounting. BBB gives them a passing grade, but it is not an accurate one. HSUS should flunk the standards for donor privacy, fundraising costs and accuracy of solicitations but BBB doesn't investigate any of those. BBB also charges at least $15,000 for their seal. The BBB Wise Giving Guide has gone downhill in recent years. It used to have articles about charity fraud and controversies, but currently has nothing but a list of charities and ratings. BBB Wise Giving Alliance has been in bad financial shape for a long time. It's sad - and aggravating.
When I read HSUS's tortured defense (typed by Sarah Barnett) of their fundraising/ accounting practices (i.e., CharityWatch sucks; direct mail and junk gifts made in China are charitable programs; Charity Navigator is easy to trick so ha ha ha), I realized that it is essentially the same defense Quadriga and Disabled Veterans National Foundation use. Quadriga's CEO, Mark Schulhof, who was fired from a top government job in the Clinton administration for lying and privacy violations, has a blog where he has responded to the CNN and Charity Watch reports by defending "Spending $1 to Raise $1." DVNF's website posts defenses similar to Sarah's below - the tired "membership development/building an army of supporters is a central part of our charitable mission and worth whatever it costs." In my opinion, HSUS is no better than Quadriga and is worse then DVNF because of the dollar amounts HSUS fleeces from the public. All three refuse to reform.
Telegram to HSUS: Quadriga and DVNF are under Senate Finance Committee investigation. Get a freakin' clue!
2 years, 4 months ago on SPCA International Going to the Dogs?
Sarah Barnett's absurd and unconvincing defense of HSUS's fundraising practices was written by HSUS. Their damage control department (aka program services) has a very high turnover rate; Sarah is the last spinmeister able to stomach defending deceit for a living, while shamelessly milking a lazy Charity Navigator evaluation every day on countless websites.
...Where to begin...
1. Charity Watch - not Charity Navigator or BBB - was the main source for all three CNN investigations of HSUS's direct mail vendor, Quadriga Art. Charity Navigator's CEO made a brief appearance to explain why his watchdog gave F-rated soundalike scam Veterans National Foundation 3 stars instead of zero. The answer is the same as the reason HSUS gets 4 stars from CN and a D from Charity Watch: CN's robo-ratings reward fraudsters like VNF, Feed the Children and HSUS, while penalizing honest charities. Sarah/HSUS criticizes Charity Watch for counting fundraising expenses as fundraising expenses, reading past page 1 of their IRS 990s. Animal People News's Watchdog Report also centers it's analysis around the joint accounting loophole - direct mail and telemarketing are not "creating awareness." They are neither "public education" nor "membership development". Animal People states that if the letter or phone call requests a donation, it is fundraising, not programs. The follow up letters trying to guilt you into donating in response to the "free gift" are fundraising, not public education. The cost of the Quadriga produced junk gifts are not membership development expenses, but a sleazy form of fundraising that gives the entire sector a bad name. HSUS loves Charity Navigator for allowing them to abuse the joint accounting loophole and Charity Navigator unwittingly hearts Quadriga, because it has helped steer countless millions of taxpayer subsidized dollars to them. HSUS is a major advertiser in Animal People News, which gives HSUS the equivalent of a D grade for spending just 56% on programs. Animal People also criticizes Charity Navigator's "mindless number crunching". Will Sarah belittle Animal People as well? Will Charity Navigator order the Animal People Report and read what these experts in the field of animal welfare AND fundraising have to say? Will Sarah comment about the HSUS-Quadriga relationship?
2. Any organization that constantly boasts about it's peerlessness, it's "11 million members" (HSUS has under 1 million) and incomparable effectiveness (Philanthropedia voters included lots of HSUS current and former staffers) is morally suspect. HSUS is so incomparably effective that the Democratic Senate just rejected it's Farm Bill egg legislation. HSUS wasted more money on that poorly crafted bill than it funneled to Quadriga last year. The incomparable HSUS is the only animal group willing to work with Michael Vick and accept major donations from the Eagles and Vick supporters. Dogfighting itself has not been reduced, and arrests and convictions of dogfighters are actually down from the years before the Vick case. Let us not forget the Louisiana Attorney General's 18 month investigation of HSUS for botching their Katrina animal rescue efforts and misusing donations. After 18 months of stalling and whining, HSUS was ready to go to trial defending itself with a technically legal, but completely unethical loophole - that only contributions specifically earmarked by donors for Katrina had to be used for Katrina. The LA AG investigators realized what they were dealing with and cut a deal. While HSUS shills still point to HSUS's own press releases for an "accounting" of the Katrina money, HSUS could not and cannot produce actual documents, third party verifications or other proof to back up it's claims of where most of the $35 million really went. If Charity Navigator or Great Nonprofits want information on the Katrina debacle, call the Consumer Protection Division of the Louisiana AG's office - it's toll free!
3. Real charities aren't obsessed with member acquisition. Disabled Veterans National Foundation, HSUS, SPCA International and Veterans National Foundation use the "donor development" drivel to justify their wasteful and predatory fundraising tactics and to defend labeling member recruitment "program expenses". Quadriga helps them craft that defense in order to keep the money rolling in. In the case of HSUS, the obsession with spending half it's income acquiring supporters has another dimension: politics. Lobbying groups like HSUS and psuedo-political parties like HSUS focus on developing constituencies. Ethical charities would never violate IRS rules for lobbying. High quality charities keep their fundraising expenses low and report them accurately on their tax forms. If these expenses are too high and Charity Watch gives the charity a C or lower, they are open to changing their practices. Good charities do not attack the messenger, especially when that evaluator is the only watchdog group to work with major media organizations reporting on questionable charities. From ABC's 20/20 investigation of telefundraising to CBS 60 Minutes' expose on the Charity Navigator 4 star East Asia Institute, to the CNN series that has already resulted in a Senate Finance Committee inquiry, Daniel Borochoff - not Ken Berger - is the go-to expert. And Sarah, Charity Navigator gives C or higher grades to more than 75% of the charities it expertly rates. It's not them, it's you.
Note: In my earlier post, I mentioned that some people familiar with the HSUS tax returns have suggested that HSUS must have paid off Charity Navigator to get such an undeserved rating. I did not mean to suggest that this is true. I'm sure it is not. However, as long as the HSUS CEO and surrogates constantly bring up the Charity Navigator report card, people will respond with questions like that. As long as HSUS insists on making Charity Navigator a central part of their defense, Charity Navigator will be part of the story. If they are willing to be...
2 years, 5 months ago on SPCA International Going to the Dogs?
SPCA International deserves to be exposed as the fake pet shelter umbrella organization it is. SPCA needs to be exposed for raising millions of dollars for overseas work, while keeping the vast majority of the donations in the United States. I am ecstatic that Quadriga has now been exposed as a predatory direct mail mill that targets vulnerable veterans and animal lovers with grossly misleading solicitations and guilt gifts. However...
Hypocrisy or Incompetence?
Great Nonprofits and Charity Navigator have each been complicit in urging animal lovers to donate money the Charity Watch D-rated Humane Society of the United States, a long-time Quadriga client that also pretends to help local humane societies and raises money for overseas work that mostly stays in DC. HSUS's former CEO, disgraced televangelist Paul Irwin, helped Pierre Barnoti create SPCA International and introduced Barnoti to his cronies at Quadriga. Without the corrupt HSUS, there would be no SPCAI.
HSUS earns their D grade from Charity Watch by spending half of its deceptively raised revenue on fundraising, including nearly $20 million to Quadriga in 2009 and 2010 (the 2011 tax returns haven't been released yet). HSUS, of course, under reports the amount of money spent on fundraising, exploiting the joint accounting loophole to the point of abuse, as well as completely omitting additional millions in fundraising costs from their tax forms. In 2008, The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance was alerted to this via a complaint plus documented evidence. (Charity Navigator received the same report.) BBB warned HSUS that it would fail the annual review unless it reported fundraising expenses more accurately. At the time, HSUS was claiming to spend an unbelievable 83% on programs and Charity Navigator was rewarding them year after year. HSUS doubled it's reported fundraising costs for 2008, and was downgraded by the number crunchers at Charity Navigator, who had ignored the 50+ page complaint and ignored Trent Stamp's scathing 2006 blog post about HSUS: "Does She Speak For You?"
HSUS has staff members and lackeys post dozens of fake comments on Great Nonprofits this site with five star ratings in order to counter the legitimate comments that criticize HSUS for the flood of Quadriga mailings and "free gifts."
As more people have become aware of the decades-long corruption of the Humane Society of the United States, the organization has responded by cooking it's "Financial Statements", "Annual Reports" and even IRS 990s, hoodwinking inept watchdogs like Charity Navigator and Great Nonprofits into high ratings, and then using the botched 4 Star rating as a defense against everything from excess lobbying to deceptive fundraising to hiring ex-Animal Liberation Front domestic terrorist as the Director of Animal Cruelty Policy.
CEO Wayne Pacelle and his minions have cited Charity Navigator close to a hundred times just in the past 4 months. HSUS uses the 4 star rating in the same direct mailings that are handled by Quadriga. Some people have responded to this totally inappropriate use of CN online by suggesting that HSUS paid Charity Navigator for the rating.
HSUS=SPCAI. Don't criticize one and fawn over the other, guys.