Charity Navigator Downgrades HSUS

Whenever we point out that the independent watchdog CharityWatch gives the Humane Society of the United States a C-minus grade, HSUS usually retorts that it gets four stars (out of four) from Charity Navigator, a different evaluator. No more.

Today we learned Charity Navigator has downgraded HSUS from four stars to three. The reason? After we filed an IRS complaint against HSUS last fall, alleging that HSUS had improperly inflated its revenue for several years, HSUS filed amended tax returns. (Independent experts, such as CharityWatch and a Minnesota tax attorney, also thought HSUS was in the wrong.) Based on this amended data, Charity Navigator has revised its rating of HSUS and downgraded the group.

Sorry, Wayne Pacelle and company.

And the Charity Navigator rating could be even lower. Charity Navigator sometimes factors in an accounting trick used by charities whereby the organizations classify fundraising costs as “program spending” in order to boost their perceived financial efficiency to donors. In its ratings of a number of charities, including animal groups like PCRM and ASCPA, Charity Navigator adjusts the reported expenses of the charities to reflect that the organizations use this accounting method.

But for some reason, Charity Navigator doesn’t do this for HSUS. If it did, we suspect HSUS’s three stars would drop to two stars.

There’s one more unturned stone. We asked the IRS to fine HSUS, as permitted under federal regulations, for each day that each of its tax returns was incomplete. Did the agency do so? We’ll probably never know. But it’s good to see other organizations holding HSUS accountable.

Posted on 03/05/2014 at 2:26 pm by Humane Watch Team.

Topics: Main


  • MisterCadet

    Great news! HSUS been cooking the books by claiming credit for the Fair Market Value of the Shelter Pet Project adoption campaign since it’s inception. Maddies Fund created the Shelter Pet Project, along with the Ad Council. HSUS has little or nothing to do with the actual production of the ads. Maddies Fund and the Ad Council did, along with pro bono services by for-profit advertising and related companies. HSUS also exploits the Shelter Pet Project by taking credit for a 10% drop in shelter euthanasia rates since the campaign was launched.
    HSUS even includes the Charity Navigator 4 star grade on it’s tax returns (tacky). If HSUS continues to use the undeserved 4 star rating every day, let’s call them out on it. Pacelle and his flunkies (including the sleazy Joe Maxwell) will no longer be able to exploit Charity Navigator as a shield and a cover for it’s fraud and abuse. No more milking it as a defense every time their critics expose their greed and deception.
    I wonder which Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance standards covers cooking the books.
    Thank you, Charity Navigator, for doing the right thing under great pressure from Wayne Pacelle and his fellow con artists. You are officially a (budding) watchdog.

  • Julie Ann Lockett

    Lousy organisation. However do they keep their status after all this negative rating? Who are behind this fake money raising facade? Some power is allowing this to go on and ignoring all the facts.

  • Mike Dunger

    But…but….they have cute puppies on their commercials! And kittens! You must hate puppies and kittens! 😉

    • Richard anderson


  • Marcella Covault

    Pacelle is so arrogant, he thinks he is invincible now. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

  • Candace Ware

    You guys are aware that the now infamous Lois Lerner, 5th-pleader extraordinaire, who was in charge of who gets and keeps tax-exempt status, is/was deeply involved with HSUS? Thinking that angle deserves some looking into, though it might end up taking a back burner position relative to all the other investigating she’s going to be subject to. I really wonder whether she had anything to do with the years of foot-dragging and avoidance of the IRS looking into HSUS practices.

  • ggcarlo4

    When I see the ads on TV for this HSUS I get phisically sick. I think of all of the true rescue groups in my local area that REALLY rescue dogs and cats. I do support them. All of the groups that I support have unpaid volunteers. I have volunteered with thease groups. Sometimes we pick up dogs for transport, sometimes we work with dogs that have behavior problems, show dogs at “meet and greats”. Many of the dogs or cats that come in from puppy mills, have severe medical problems. We raise money for their treatment, and many local vets work with us. I love to meet people who introduce their dogs as ” rescue”. This demonstrates that rescue anmails are NOT “throw aways”. Rescue anmails are housed in homes, with families, NOT in fancy buildings with plush “executive” offices.

  • John

    Give locally, all these huge charities do is ensure the top dogs stay rich.