WRAL Investigates

Donating to Humane Society, ASPCA? Money might not go to NC

Posted November 21, 2011

WRAL Investigates

— Many local animal shelters say a confusing name-game is hurting their ability to help animals in need. The reason is because the Humane Society of the U.S. and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have no direct ties to most local shelters.

Despite raising hundreds of millions of dollars, those groups gave little or no money to North Carolina rescue groups.

The SPCA of Wake County cares for thousands of cats and dogs every year. They do it without federal, state or local funds. Despite the name, the shelter gets no help from the ASPCA.

“It’s a perpetual source of confusion,” said Wake County SPCA Executive Director Hope Hancock.

Hancock says groups like the Humane Society and ASPCA do good work. The problem is that many donors think they're the parent groups of local shelters, but they're not.

“I think there is a misconception about both the Humane Society and the ASPCA. The names cause confusion,” she said. “I’ve got to tell you, they both have compelling campaigns. I’ll give them that, but that money is not landing locally.”

Figuring out the difference between the national campaign and the local outreach isn't easy. A WRAL Investigates producer went line by line on the three years of IRS forms from the Humane Society and ASPCA.

Animal shelters Donating to Humane Society, ASPCA? Money might not go to NC

Despite raising a combined $519 million nationally, North Carolina animal welfare groups only received $1.1 million in major grants. That's almost the same amount the ASPCA paid one telemarketer for one fundraising campaign that ended in July.

In 2009, records show North Carolina received $517,845 from the ASPCA, the second most of any state. However, 96 percent went to one spay and neuter group in Asheville.

The numbers surprised donors WRAL News spoke with at a fundraising event at the SPCA of Wake County.

Linda Tuday, who donates to animal causes, says she was confused

“When you put an ‘A’ at the beginning, and it’s ‘American,’ you think of it being a national organization, and most national organizations will help local organizations,” she said.

While there's no cash windfall for North Carolina, the Humane Society and ASPCA do offer other types of support. The Humane Society helped rescue animals in the wake of Hurricane Irene in the eastern part of the state. They swooped in to assist local law enforcement bust suspected puppy mills, such as the one in Franklin County in June.

The ASPCA says it stands behind its work and fundraising, telling WRAL News that: “We do not feel it is a local vs. national issue … We are bringing national attention to critical needs of animals and highlighting the good work of those local groups, which will ultimately expose more supporters to our shared cause.”

Still, there's confusion. One direct mail solicitation WRAL News has doesn't distinguish between the national and local groups. When WRAL News called the ASPCA donation line to get some clarification, the operator made it clear that they are separate. However, that's a question many local animal lovers don't ask.

“We here rely on individual donors,” Hancock said. “It’s very important to us they give locally and not be deceived by any national organization.”

For those who want the most out of their donations, be proactive. Whether it's a local or national animal welfare group or other charity, go to their website and donate online or give them a call. Fundraising reports filed with the Secretary of State's office show paid solicitors that handle campaigns for the ASPCA keep as much as 87 percent of the funds raised.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • barbstillkickin Nov 23, 2011

    WCNC are you not all there. Of course we want children to be adopted as well but when you are disabled and to old to adopt these poor sweet little fur paws sure pick up the slack and make you feel needed again so keep you thoughts to your self please.

  • barbstillkickin Nov 23, 2011

    I will never adopt from SPCA but I always rescue my dogs from the Humane Shelter of Wake County. My Border Collie was there for 10 months until I had the chance to get her and I am thankful every day for her and her little brother. Humane Shelter is so much better then SPCA. They treat potential adoptees like they are criminals. You can tell a person's attitude by there actions. Never SPCA always Wake County Humane \Shelter

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 23, 2011

    @Deathrow, if what you say is true, why don’t churches open their financial books? I require proof. YMMV

    I want to see all proceeds, stock dividends, profits, rental incomes, cash donations, etc. I would love to compare hard tax numbers that they avoid to the amount of “services” that churches *say* they provide. And, no, ... money for candles, printing Bibles & proselytizing literature, kneeling pads, etc. doesn’t count.

    For example, there’s a $1.3 million church in my Durham neighborhood. If someone lived in a house that size, they would pay over $13,000 in property taxes alone...every year...PLUS sales tax on all of their purchases PLUS income tax on the earnings to support the average family of four. This would probably total more than $40,000...per year. And if this was a private company, the tax income could be much more.

  • Made In USA Nov 22, 2011

    Mail or take your donations directly to the receiver. If you go about it on a website, someone along the way is going to have sticky fingers (fees, charges, etc).

    Going directly to the place you want to help out ensures 100% of your donation goes towards the cause.

  • elizadushkufan85 Nov 22, 2011

    Animals need love and care just like children do. I'm glad there are people in the world that don't think like you and care for animals, like me. I donate to the ASPCA and the SPCA.

  • wcnc Nov 22, 2011

    I would never donate to an animal shelter when my money can be better spent donating to someone's adoption of a CHILD!

  • derno54 Nov 22, 2011

    So many wonderful rescues out there that depend on donations. I volunteer with All Breed Animal Rescue of the Carolinas. Best thing is to call the rescue ask for a receipt when you donate for tax purposes.

  • timbo10.0 Nov 22, 2011

    "Most poster are right, and when it comes to any National organization, you can bet that most of the money if for salary, advertisment and processing, and a very small percentage actually goes to help. "

    Well said.

  • makeitright Nov 22, 2011

    Exactly why I stopped donating to anyone anymore. CEO salaries 1 million.. who am I supporting? certainly not anyone the charity says it goes to.. United Way, any of them, they all serve themselves before the situation they say they support with your money. Look at Washington.. good examples they set.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Nov 22, 2011

    Non-profits should be audited annually, including churches. There are "churches" that advertise as churches, yet you never see any activity or cars there.