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Opinion: HSUS’s accreditation drop should serve as wakeup call

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The recent problems facing The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) should be a wakeup call for all of us that give to ANY charity.

Although a formal announcement has not been made, it is being rumored that the Better Business Bureau is dropping its accreditation of HSUS.

This would come on the heels of their CEO, Wayne Parcelle, resigning after a flood of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. It also comes as HSUS continues its campaign right here in Arizona to ban certain types of hunting.

Here’s why these latest examples can serve as a wakeup call.

Charities might not be what they seem

Let me be clear, HSUS is NOT The Humane Society of Arizona, or any other state for that matter. They pull in $150,000,000 per year in part because they know that donors are giving, thinking that the money will funnel down to the state level. This is not the case. HSUS knows this is the intent of their donors yet lends very little help to the struggling Humane Society branches at the state level.

A piece of advice, if you want to give to a Humane Society charity, give local. That’s where all of the good is being done for animals.

HSUS is working right here in Arizona, gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that will leave animal population control up to the voters.

It will also take that responsibility out of the hands of the trained biologists that are effectively managing healthy populations of more animal species than any other non-coastal state in the nation.

They are masked as “Arizonans for Wildlife.”

Sounds nice, right?

It’s actually the HSUS operating under a different name. Once again, not what they seem. But the title “Arizonans for Wildlife” sounds like something that everyone in Arizona can get behind and HSUS knows that. They also know that rallying cries like “Arizonans for Wildlife” works almost as well as tugging at your heartstrings.

Heartstrings are tied to your purse strings

Getting to those heartstrings costs a lot of money. Producing ads for radio or TV is not cheap. The airtime on both mediums is even more expensive. But those ads that we see of scared, cold, and hungry puppy dogs work and nonprofits like HSUS know this. They will spend millions of donated dollars to…well…get more donated dollars.

Charity Watch reports that HSUS spends $22 to raise $100. That’s a big chunk that could actually be used by local Humane Societies to save the scared, cold, and hungry puppy dogs that HSUS uses to tug at your purse string connected heartstrings.

Do the right homework

If you have done some homework before giving to a charity…good for you. You are in a very small group of philanthropists. If you have not, don’t worry…you are not alone.

Doing the RIGHT homework means going the extra mile before donating.

If you are thinking about heading over to the Better Business Bureau to check out your charitable target…you might want to read about the BBB coming under fire for receiving thousands from the charities that it rates.

Keep in mind that the BBB is a business and consumers are the product. The rated businesses are the BBB’s clients. Those stickers and web banners are bought by businesses that are paying membership to the BBB.

Sites like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch seem to have their act together and would be a good starting point to your research. If you were looking to give to the HSUS and wanted to check out one of these sites before giving, you would find that Charity Navigator has dropped the HSUS rating from four stars to two stars with a measly one star for financials.

Don’t be afraid to call the charity or competing charities as well. Speaking to these charities might put you at ease or get your “Spidey Senses” tingling.

The bottom line is that large charity organizations became large charity organizations by being good at one thing: raising money. And when the name of the game is to raise more and more each year, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that certain tactics are used that might not align with the publicly-stated mission.

There are plenty of local charities that are spending donation dollars right here in Arizona. Charities that don’t spend millions on marketing, corporate events, branded gear and overhead. Companies that aren’t getting busted by watchdog agencies.

We work hard for our money. We want to help our communities and those in need. The HSUS story is a great wakeup call for us to only give to those that we are confident will be the best stewards with our donations.

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