Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train
We rarely reprint but the expose' on the
financials and tax returns of the HSUS (Humane Society of the Unites
States) was too good not to share. Thank you Consumer Freedom!
Less than ten months ago we wrote, on another website (Ref
#1), an essay that would form the basis for the whole HumaneWatch
project (which launched about 7 weeks later). In that piece
(Ref #2), we explored the basics of what the Humane Society of the
United States (HSUS) reported in its federal income tax return for the 2008 tax
HumaneWatch.org (2010 Edition)
Yesterday we published HSUS's 2009 tax paperwork. As of this writing, HSUS
hasn't yet released it (Ref #3) on its
website-although it was filed with the IRS in the first week of September, six
weeks ago. (Update: A few hours after this article was
published, the 2009 tax return magically appeared on HSUS's website. HSUS also
removed its tax returns for years prior to 2007, but fear not-we've got 'em all
in the HumaneWatch document library. (Ref #4))
The popular Guidestar (Ref #5) nonprofit tracking
service doesn't have a copy yet either. We got ours from one of the (literally)
dozens of U.S. states that require it from charities that want to keep their
So HSUS is in no hurry to keep its donors informed about its balance sheet, but
fundraising regulators get speedy delivery from the accountants at 2100 L
Street. Small wonder.
Perhaps at HSUS's official Annual Membership Meeting- someone will ask Wayne Pacelle about the observations we've
made below. If you've given $25 to HSUS in the last year, you're eligible to
HSUS's bottom line for 2009 will sound familiar to veteran HumaneWatchers: The
group sucks millions of dollars out of local communities, by raising money from
unsuspecting Americans who believe it's related to their local pet shelter (it
isn't) or that it gives a substantial portion of its money to hands-on dog and
cat rescues (it doesn't). Instead, HSUS hoards its money, or funnels it to a
variety of affiliated organizations it controls. These include Humane Society
International (HSI), HSI/UK, HSI/Canada, and Humane Society University, to just
name a few.
It's a tired story of corruption and cynical misdirection. But the 2009 tax
return (Ref #6) itself provides a fascinating look
inside the HSUS machine (Ref #7).
Here are our initial observations, in no particular order:
$97.0 million in donations last year and spent $22.3 million on
fundraising. In other words, 23 cents of every dollar HSUS
took in went right back out the door to raise more money.
HSUS's tel-evangelical vegan activist CEO, now has an annual
compensation package worth $269,180. (He got a 6.6-percent
raise over 2008.) Including Pacelle, 29 of HSUS's 629 employees
are six-figure earners. In total, HSUS spent $35.8 million on
salaries and benefits last year.
its lavish retirement spending in 2009, contributing another
$2.59 million to its executive pension plans
(Ref #8). All told, HSUS's pension
fund has grown by more than $11 million since Pacelle became CEO
nearly seven years ago.
$7.3 million of its donors' money in the stock market in 2009,
selling $107.2 million worth of securities for $99.9 million.
HSUS had $160.5
million in assets, including $24.8 million in cash, at the end
HSUS sent its
membership magazine (All Animals) to just 450,000 people in 2009.
This is a far cry from the 11 million it claims to represent.
The 2009 tax return affirms that anyone who donates $25 is a
"voting member" who can help elect or re-elect Board Members.
HSUS uses All Animals magazine to distribute ballots to its
members, which means that there are no more than 450,000 HSUS
members in the world.
HSUS claims it
reached "850,000 kindergarten to 6th grade students" in 2009
through its propaganda newsletter, KIND News.
of the "grants" HSUS made to outside organizations in 2009 went
to its own affiliates. HSUS gave more money to just two of
its political ballot-committee front groups (those in Missouri
and Ohio) than it did to pet shelters. More than one-third of
HSUS grants went to Humane Society International, a closely
related HSUS affiliate.
less than 1.7 percent of its $121.7 million budget with
organizations it doesn't control. We're still analyzing the
grantees to determine which are real pet shelters or rescue
groups, but it appears that HSUS's support of such organizations
(yet again) accounted for less than 1 percent of the overall
expenses in 2009 were for direct-mail and online marketing costs,
not animal care. It paid $7.70 million to an online
direct-marketing firm called Euro RSCG Edge
(Ref #9), and another $8.21 million to the Quadriga
Art (Ref #10) direct-mail company.
On the bright side, HSUS "only" paid the Arizona Lockbox &
Fulfillment (Ref #11) company $2.77
million to count its donors' money last year (down from more
than $4 million in 2008). A Virginia printing house was paid
$1.56 million, and the scandal-plagued Share Group telemarketing
firm kept $1.84 million of the $1.92 million it raised on HSUS's
behalf-a return of barely 4 percent.
HSUS now has
"state directors" (read: regional lobbyists) in 36 states.
We also found it interesting that HSUS claims it "makes
copies of its certificate of incorporation and bylaws available to members
free-of-charge, by mail, upon request." So if you're a "Buyers' remorse
HumaneWatcher" who wouldn't mind writing HSUS for your copy, please forward it
along HumaneWatch, P.O. Box 34555, Washington, DC 20043, so we can add it to the
HumaneWatch document library (Ref #12).
There's more to discuss about this lengthy document, including the complicated
relationship between HSUS and its many legal affiliates, and just how much of
HSUS's "grant" money went to real humane societies. Stay tuned.
Reprinted courtesy of
www.ConsumerFreedom.com where you
will find other extensive information on this and other organizations.
# 1&2 http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/h/4062-unpacking-the-hsus-gravy-train
# 3 http://www.humanesociety.org/about/overview/annual_reports_financial_statements.html
# 4 http://humanewatch.org/index.php/documents/
# 5 http://www2.guidestar.org/
# 6&12 http://www.humanewatch.org/index.php/documents/detail/2009_hsus_form_990
# 7 http://humanewatch.org/index.php/site/post/welcome_to_the_hsus_machine/
# 8 http://www.humanewatch.org/index.php/site/post/mining_the_mother_lode/
# 9 http://www.eurorscgedge.com/ourwork/astrive/astrive_student_loans/business_challenge.aspx