Wednesday, April 27, 2011

HSUS Donors are Flushing Their Money Away

In the past I have detailed the direct mail accounting shenanigans of HSUS, noting that by my calculations, HSUS is spending about 75 cents of every dollar raised in the mail on sending out more direct mail.

If HSUS wants to challenge my math, I have a standing invitation to a free lunch; I work around the corner from their main office in Washington, D.C. and if they will bring the direct mail accounting books (membership staff salaries and benefits, postage, printing, caging, envelope, list acquisition, lasering, computer services, creative costs, management and office space), I will pick up the lunch tab and we will have a grand old time making columns of numbers showing the income and outgo from their direct mail program.

My point here is not to demonize HSUS.   HSUS does a few small bits of good (not much bang for the buck, but a little) and the direct mail numbers at HSUS are not too far out of line with those of other direct mail-driven organizations.

So am I upset about the amazing amounts of wasted money?  A little, but compared to what? If one is looking for wasted money in the world of dogs, it's a lot easier to point to the jaw-dropping sums spent on dog shows in this country. Wow!

But I do not salute nonsense, and the notion that HSUS is primarily about helping poor shelter animals is complete hokum.

The Humane Society of the U.S. is primarily about direct mail and, as I have noted:

The direct mail business is not about saving the lives of cats and dogs but about management contracts, laser printing, #10 carrier envelopes, bar codes, caging operations, business reply envelopes, and rising pre-sorted non-profit postage rates. In short, it's about money.

HSUS's direct mail operation targets senior citizens who are led to believe they are helping poor dumb animals down at the local shelter.

This is the LIE that the Humane Society of the U.S. has maintained for more than 50 years.

More recently I noted that while HSUS claims 11 million members on its web site, the real due-paying membership of the organization is less than 450,000, a more than 24-fold exaggeration.

Now let's get around to the money HSUS raises money through the telephone. 

You see HSUS not only raises money through the mail -- they also make a lot of telephone calls. The economics here are pretty grim however, a point that has been made by no less of an authority than the State of New York.

In a 168-page report entitled Pennies for Charity:  Where Your Money Goes, the New York State Charities Bureau took a look at the telemarketing numbers behind charities operating in New York State, and what they found was disturbing:  Charities, on average, only kept 31 percent of the money raised through the telephone. The rest went to those greasy bottom-feeding telemarketers that call you right as you are about to sit down for dinner, or just as you come home from work.

Of course that 31 percent number is the average.

Some groups, like HSUS, did far worse. How much worse can be seen on page 29 of the report, where we learn that of the $1,083,071 raised on the telephone in New York state by HSUS in 2000, only $16,543 went back to the charity -- just 1.53 percent.

To put it another way, more than 98 percent of the money donated to HSUS by telephone in New York State went to fund a telemarketer's boiler room operation.

To put it another way, in 2000 HSUS gave more money to telemarketers in New York state than it did to ALL the dog and cat shelters in the U.S. that same year. A more than 98 percent waste on top of their "divide by 24" membership number.

Still think HSUS is a charity helping dogs and cats?  Think again!

1 comment:

Karen said...

Or horses, or seals, or birds for that matter.