Of all the self-serving promotions that the Humane Society of the United States churns out—and it puts out a lot, with CharityWatch finding that HSUS spends up to a whopping 48 cents to raise every dollar—the most nauseating is perhaps HSUS’s new motto of “We’re There,” which is the slogan of a defensive radio ad in the D.C. area that comes on the heels of our hard-hitting D.C. Metro and Roll Call ads. If you wonder about our distaste, just look at the latest news coming from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman regarding Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
We noted before that Schneiderman asked about 100 charities, including HSUS, that engaged in Sandy-related fundraising to report to his office how much they were spending on Sandy relief efforts. On Wednesday, Schneiderman reported that as of April some nonprofits were still holding donations. In the case of HSUS, a more appropriate word might be “hoarding.”
The 89 charities reported to Scheiderman’s office that they raised more than $500 million, yet only 57 percent of that money has been spent on Sandy relief. The most recent documentation for HSUS, an April letter signed by its general counsel, reports that HSUS raised over $2.2 million for its Disaster Relief Fund in the months following Sandy and had spent only 33 percent—or $731,000—on Sandy relief. That’s roughly on par with what we reported about previous HSUS filings showing that HSUS had spent 35 percent of the money it raised on Sandy relief. We don’t know if they’re counting the money spent on camera crews and video personnel that HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle had in tow when he visited affected areas to document any possible good deed he performed.
HSUS is excusing itself by saying it never solicited for Sandy specifically and that it honored donations that donors–on their own initiative–earmarked for Sandy relief. And that may be correct. But this is a $70 billion disaster. There are still groups in the affected area, like the Monmouth County SPCA, that need help. And yet, according to the latest data, $1.5 million that HSUS raised has not been spent on Sandy relief.
HSUS certainly is “there” when disasters happen—looking for a cash haul. That’s called taking the low road.