When you provide financial support to The HSUS or one of our affiliates, you have a right to expect a tangible return. Your charitable gift is a social investment, and it’s our duty and purpose to translate it into animals rescued or cruelty prevented. At The HSUS, we choose to take on the biggest fights—against the biggest of animal-use industries—because there must be an organization with the might and know-how to do so. If not us, then who?
Our annual report for 2010 will be posted online shortly, and it shows a level of activity and accomplishment never before seen in our movement. We believe, and we have the facts to back it up, that no national group does more to help animals than The HSUS and our affiliates. We provide hands-on care to more animals than any other organization, but we also work to prevent cruelty—working with lawmakers, corporate leaders, and cultural influencers to drive forward the values and ideals of our cause. Every day in hundreds of ways, we complement the vital work of local shelters, rescues, and other groups—and, in fact, we share with these groups many of the same devoted supporters.
In assessing our work (for example, see a video of our current disaster response), one might measure the millions of animals touched in one way or another, the vivid stories and testimonials from our supporters and others who’ve seen our work firsthand, or even the obsessive attention we get from our political adversaries (whether in agribusiness, the animal fighting camps, the sealing industry, the puppy millers, or any of the others whose conduct we work to change).
But there’s no precise mathematical way to measure the performance of The HSUS or any other nonprofit organization. Our work is not an exercise in spending ratios, but a far more complex exercise in social reform, innovation, education, persuasion, market and political change, and the delivery of hands-on services.
The numbers do matter, however, and there are a few charity watchdog groups that exist to provide donors with some objective information on the performance of organizations.
I am glad to report that both The HSUS and Humane Society International have received three-star ratings from Charity Navigator, one of the evaluating entities. For a number of years, HSUS earned four stars, the highest rating, but for the past couple years, we’ve hit three stars. It’s a good rating indeed, and we are proud to have it. Taken over the last few years, we are bouncing between the highest numeric ratings provided by the organization, and that’s one more good measurement of our work.
One key Charity Navigator measure is program expense, the percentage of its total budget that a charity spends on the services it seeks to deliver. For 2009, The HSUS’s program expenses as a percentage of total expenses were 78 percent, and HSI’s were 82 percent, each exceeding by a great degree the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance standard of 65 percent.
We work to protect all animals:
pets, wildlife, and more.
We are in excellent company, for the three-star rating is also provided to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, and Best Friends Animal Society, and to such peer charities in the Chronicle of Philanthropy 400 as Heifer Project International, Doctors without Borders, the United Negro College Fund, Volunteers of America, the World Wildlife Fund, and the National Wildlife Federation.
In recent years, The HSUS has received high marks from other independent third parties as well. For example, Cone and Intangible Business recognized HSUS as the 10th strongest brand of any nonprofit in the country (in looking at the 1,000 largest charities in the United States), and The HSUS was named in 2009 as one of Worth magazine's top 10 most fiscally responsible charities.
At The HSUS, we want you and the rest of the world to know about our work—transparency is one of our watchwords. We broadcast news of our programmatic work every day, as well as share our financial information. Take it all in: look at All Animals magazine, our website, my blog, as well as charity evaluation group ratings and the backhanded praise sent our way by our political opponents.
Through all of these sources and portals, you’ll find a rich tapestry, and only you can be the judge of our work and how it squares with your goals and objectives, as well as the degree of difficulty in our enterprise. Our goal is to change the way animals are treated throughout the world. We know it’s a big mission—some might say impossible—but we are truly shaping a humane society, and working to get closer to it every day.