Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2012 Edition)

Every November, we get a peek at the internal operations of HSUS when we get a copy of its IRS Form 990, a publicly available tax return that nonprofits have to file with the federal government. We have a copy of HSUS’s latest Form 990 (PDF – 6.7 MB), covering calendar year 2011, and there’s some good and bad news.

The good news: Public support for HSUS is down.

You read that right. Contributions and grants to HSUS went down by about $8.5 million in 2011 compared to 2010, for an overall decrease of 6.5 percent. HSUS’s total revenue actually decreased by more than 10 percent, mostly due to the drop in public support and drop in investment income relative to 2010. (No wonder HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle has seemed especially vitriolic towards us recently. Or maybe it’s because his book can’t sell better than a beadwork guide.)

Hopefully this decline in public support was matched with an increase in giving to local pet shelters and rescues. That’s something near impossible to measure. But we can measure how much of donors’ donations to HSUS are being sent to pet shelters.

And that’s the bad news: HSUS’s grant-giving to support pet shelters continues to be criminal, figuratively speaking.

Grants made by HSUS for the purpose of aiding pet sheltering appear to make up about only 0.25% (one-quarter of one percent) of HSUS’s budget. Even including spay/neuter and other grants made to shelters, that figure only goes up to about 0.50% of HSUS’s budget. Nothing to write home about.

We’re releasing a report today to the media showing, state by state, how little HSUS gives to support sheltering. If you want to see how your state fared, click here to view a PDF. (The data comes from Schedule I of the tax return.)

Here are the nuggets—lowlights, really—from the tax return:

  • HSUS spent less than 1 percent of its budget on grants to pet shelters.
  • Meanwhile, HSUS had fundraising-related expenses of $48.1 million, or a whopping 38 percent of its total budget. If that doesn’t tell you the real priorities of HSUS, nothing will.
  • HSUS paid $7.7 million to Quadriga Art, a fundraising consultant recently exposed by CNN that is reportedly under investigation in New York and California. Between 2009 and 2011, HSUS paid Quadriga about $25 million.
  • HSUS also reported paying about $333,000 to Infocision Management, whose questionable practices were exposed by Bloomberg this fall.
  • HSUS added another $2.4 million to its pension plan, bringing the total to about $17 million since Wayne Pacelle took over as CEO in 2004.
  • Speaking of Pacelle, he pulled in just under $300,000 in compensation. That brings his total haul since joining HSUS to about $3 million.
  • In all, HSUS had 24 people who received more than $100,000 in compensation.
  • HSUS’s “All Animals” magazine had a circulation of about 530,000. That’s a good estimate of HSUS’s true membership size, since the magazine is included with a $25 membership. (HSUS likes to claim it has a “constituency” of 11 million, which inflates its influence greatly.)

In short, HSUS as usual had plenty of money to spare for overhead. But its giving to pet shelters—which desperately need resources in this economy—was once again scant.

Same story, different day. Will HSUS ever reform?

Posted on 11/27/2012 at 10:57 pm by humanewatch.

Topics: Fundraising & Money

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  • Christine Jones

    This is absolutely criminal. I liken it to the Red Cross who received millions of dollars to rehab the New Jersey shore after the storm last year. Both of these organizations are bilking money of out people with good intentions and increasing their pension funds? This needs to be blowewn wide open!

  • BG’s Studio 13

    Not another cent from me, a once loyal contributor. So darn sad-I am so disappointed. I also support my local shelters, now 100% of what I give will stay local.

  • NikkiHillHernandez

    I’m finding that a lot of non-profit charities are the same. They have “consulting” firms and “marketing” firms that they divert the funds to. The crazy part is that these for profit firms are their own, and they are just moving the cheese so as they can continue their scam.

  • Kristen

    I seem to be missing something about this budget. I see 38% is spent on fundraising, <1% spent on local shelters, <1% spent on CEO salary, 1% on 24 other people's salaries and 1% on pension. That only add up to about 42%. Where's the other 58% of their $126mil budget? I think this article is missing some important info.

  • Nina Brown

    Criminal!