Saturday, April 26, 2014

HSUS By the (Falling) Numbers


As I noted some time back, the Humane Society of the U.S. habitually misreports (we used to call this lying, but let's be nice) about the size of their membership.

While HSUS once claimed 11 million members, its true membership was less than 450,000.

As I noted, it's important to not to be shocked by petty puffery when organizations cite inflated membership numbers.  But was this petty puffery?
Now to be clear, a lot of organizations lie about their membership numbers. The most common gambit is to assume that every dues-paying member also represents a spouse or an adult child who might also support the core mission of the organization.

Fair enough, I suppose.

But what HSUS has done is truly unprecedented. You see, they have not inflated their true dues-paying membership number by a factor of two or three.... but by more than 24.

Divide by twenty-four.

That's what the board of HSUS and all their supporters should do.

Divide by twenty-four.

Take the salary of Wayne Pacelle -- more than $240,000 a year -- and divide by 24 to see if that "mathematical adjustment" might clarify the extent of the lie that HSUS continues to perpetrate on the American people.

Divide by twenty-four.
All of this is preview to the fact that I have a letter out to Alan Heyman, Vice President for Communications at the Humane Society of the U.S.

When asked about their finances by the Associated Press at a Hollywood gala fetting actor James Cromwell, Mr. Heyman said, the organization's "finances are an open book."

Which would be terrific if true, as I have a few questions.

I fired off an email to Mr. Heyman a month ago with questions about the numbers underlying their direct mail program (no proprietary information was asked for, I assure you!), and I sent him a tickler about that email last night.

Let's see if he responds.

For those who want to urge him to respond, this is his email.

If you send him a note, be sure to be really nice. I am sure he is a wonderful fellow who is very busy and that he is desperate to set the record straight about the direct mail economics of the Humane Society of the U.S.

And to honest, the Humane Society of the U.S. should be desperate to set the record straight: their direct mail program is facing Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges, and their latest Annual Report shows that contributions to HSUS have fallen $20 million over the course of the last year.  


But to be fair, a $20 million drop in revenue is not that much.  

You see HSUS took in $267 million last year.  

And what did they do with all that money?  A lot less than they claimed

Like the RSPCA in the U.K. the Humane Society puts in BIG NUMBERS their claims of direct animal assistance, but puts in    little type   the fact that this assistance was almost entirely done by their "affiliates" to whom they give almost ZERO financial support.

That said, HSUS seems to have reigned in their membership numbers. Did I help do that? I would like to think so, but I suspect that that RICO litigation might have helped a great deal more.  

In any case, HSUS now claims 1.1 million "readers" of ALL HSUS publications combined, which means they are now engaged in conventional puffery (i.e. it's a safe bet you can divide that claimed "readership" by average family size of 2.48 persons per household).

All good and carry on.  Now about those direct mail numbers... 


Mary Strachan Scriver said...

Reminds me of a notoriously popular minister in the Midwest who claimed a congregation of thousands. This puzzled people who actually went there and found only a few hundred in the pews. Indeed, it was rather a small church. The answer to the puzzle was that he had a radio program and counted as his "congregation" the population of the entire broadcast area.

Prairie Mary

Rick said...

There was a prominent video preacher here in San Antonio who enhanced his church's numbers like that, too.

seeker said...

I'm in San Antonio. I've always said that I don't trust a church with a Neon Flashing Sign and it has a giant one out front.

Debi and the Jack Rat Pack.
member of the First Church of Field and Stream.
I love the dress code and lack of preachers salary.