Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2013 Edition)

GravyTrain2013_ChartOnce again, we have obtained the latest tax return of the deceptively named Humane Society of the United States, and once again, it’s a story of financial waste and too few dollars going to help needy pets.

HSUS reports spending $120 million in total. Of that, only about 1%—one penny on the dollar—appears to be going to local pet shelters. Local humane societies, despite having a similar name to HSUS, are not affiliated with HSUS—a common misconception among the public (and HSUS donors).

Here are some bullet points of what we’ve seen:

  • HSUS spent $50 million on fundraising-related expenses—41% of its budget. In other words, HSUS is a “factory fundraiser,” and the people really making the money are the fundraising contractors.
  • HSUS put $2.9 million into its pension plan—significantly more than it made in grants to support pet sheltering.
  • HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle pulled in $395,000 in total compensation.
  • HSUS paid $7.4 million to Quadriga Art, a fundraising firm that two states investigated last year after it was exposed by CNN in connection with charity scams. Quadriga was HSUS’s second-largest independent contractor in 2012 and HSUS has paid $30 million to Quadriga over the past several years.
  • In total, 38 people received over $100,000 in compensation from HSUS—up from 24 the previous year. For as much as HSUS complains about Big Ag, this “non-profit” corporation is clearly Big Animal Rights.
  • HSUS just had a ritzy gala in New York City last month. According to the tax return, HSUS lost money on these glitzy events in 2012. Between the NYC gala and the Hollywood “Genesis Awards” last year, HSUS had a net loss of $350,000.
  • HSUS claims it helped pass or defeat 132 laws in 2012. We’ve never heard of a nonprofit—which is not supposed to engage in much lobbying—that has such a high count when it comes to influencing laws.
  • HSUS’s membership magazine only goes to 545,000 people—up only 15,000 from last year. HSUS claims to represent a “constituency” of 11 million people (whatever that means), but the magazine circulation provides a good idea of HSUS’s actual membership—about 22 times smaller than HSUS’s claimed “constituency.”
  • HSUS’s contributions ticked up a little after a drop last year, but they’re still below where they were in 2010 (when we started this website).
  • HSUS admits that “a large portion of The HSUS’s work on direct care and service is accomplished through affiliated entities such as the Fund for Animals.” The Fund for Animals has its own separate fundraising. Shouldn’t HSUS make this fact clear in its own fundraising? Why is HSUS taking the credit for this animal care?

All in all, it’s another year of financial waste. What has 2013 brought? We should know in about 12 months. But we won’t hold our breath as long as Wayne “I don’t love animals” Pacelle runs the show. The best bet for an animal lover is to support your local shelter.

Posted on 12/04/2013 at 2:26 pm by Humane Watch Team.

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  • WORSEKarma

    If the H$U$ was any other 503(c), they’d not only have lost their “Not for profit” status, Wacky Wayners would be staring down the barrel of some pretty impressive criminal charges. It’s good to have friends in government places…

  • wyutwy

    Thanks for the info. I had stopped donating to the local humane society based on the pieces of HSUS. Looks like I need to go pay them a visit and verify that their local funds are spent correctly.

  • kory

    I just found out about this web site, quite by accident. Thank you for the information, I just cancelled my monthly donation to HSUS and will be giving it to my local animal shelter.

  • thundercloud47

    I was the secretary of a 501 (c4) organization and often the treasurer too. One of the things I was always concerned about was how much money we were supposed to be donating. The reason for my concern was that due to frequent flooding we had to spend a lot on money repairing our meeting hall and our park which also doubled as the city’s only park.

    I found out through our accountant that our club donated a higher percentage of it’s income than many charitable organizations did. We did this even in our bad years when we were hit with two floods in a years time.

    So if our little club can pull off something like that where in the heck is all this money going to thats donated to these large charities?