We’ve written before about some of the questionable fundraising tactics that the Humane Society of the United States employs. It’s not just that one firm hired by HSUS has been caught hiring ex-cons with crimes relating to honesty, or that one firm was recently exposed by Bloomberg, or that another firm was exposed by CNN, or that another had entered into settlements with states following allegations of improper actions. It’s also that some firms—with HSUS’s agreement—apparently have employed deceptive tactics by misleading potential donors about how much of their contribution would go to charity.
In reality, much of the money raised by HSUS telemarketing campaigns has gone to the fundraiser. For years, HSUS used Share Group, which raised over $12 million on HSUS’s behalf—and the fundraiser kept 93 percent of it. Now we have two recent campaign reports to share with you.
According to filings with North Carolina, Donor Services Group raised $1,392,791 for a year-long HSUS campaign. Only 6 percent—$88,689—actually went to HSUS. That’s probably enough to cover the salary of only one of HSUS’s dozens of staff attorneys. Meanwhile, a campaign by PDR II on behalf of HSUS raised $233,598, with only $16,911, or 7 percent, going to HSUS.
According to the New York Attorney General, in 2011 telemarketing campaigns in the state resulted in 39 percent of funds raised going to charity. We’re fairly confident that figure is similar to the national average—which would place HSUS well below average with its aforementioned campaigns.
HSUS? Bad practices? We can’t say we’re surprised. But the donors who gave money over the phone thinking they were helping animals, when HSUS knows most of that money will go to telemarketers, surely would be.