Fundraising & the Kabul Zoo

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2002:

As anticipated, the March 2002 ANIMAL PEOPLE investigative
feature “Plight of Kabul Zoo brings dubious fundraising claims”
brought prompt response from Brian Werner, founder of Tiger Missing
Link and cofounder of Great Cats In Crisis, and Bruce Eberle, the
fundraiser who produced an appeal soliciting funds on behalf of Great
Cats In Crisis, purportedly to aid Marjan, the Kabul Zoo lion who
was already dead two weeks before the appeal reached any of the
ANIMAL PEOPLE readers who brought it to our attention.


The appeal was mailed after North Carolina Zoo director Davy
Jones had already raised more than $350,000 to help the Kabul Zoo
animals, through the American Zoo Association and the European Zoo
Association, and had already sent a World Society for the Protection
of Animals team headed by John Walsh to Kabul to deliver the first
installment of aid–including back wages for the long unpaid Kabul
Zoo keepers.
If Werner et al ever sent any money to the Kabul Zoo, Jones
wrote on March 19, “There is no sign of it through our contacts. If
it is there, the zoo staff are not admitting it. I am going to
London tomorrow and will meet with WSPA and the EZA folks on all
this. The Afghans from Germany [the original Kabul Zoo management
team] should have gone to Kabul last weekend, and we have a vet and
a senior animal curator from the London Zoo going in about a week. I
will check with them.”
Confirmed Walsh on March 21, “I know nothing about Brian
Werner’s activities. I am not aware of him or any of his people
going to Kabul, or how he is channeling funds into Afghanistan.”

Werner says…

Rather than outlining explicitly and in a verifiable manner
anything that Great Cats In Crisis is doing for the Kabul Zoo,
Werner focused on a paragraph near the end of the ANIMAL PEOPLE
expose, both in direct complaints and in posting to an electronic
bulletin board for big cat enthusiasts. Werner emphasized that
paragraph, he said, because “If I prove one area of [the expose] is
false, then that opens the door to many other areas as well.”
The paragraph:
“His Tiger Creek facility is far from wonderful,” Carol
Asvestas told ANIMAL PEOPLE. She described cages resembling dog
runs. “Two lions were breeding when we arrived,” Asvestas added.
“None of his animals are spayed or neutered.”
Asvestas had three witnesses with her, including longtime
International Fund for Animal Welfare representative Shirley Minshew,
and said she photographed the lions in the act. They were believed
to have been Salome and Stormy, the two lions depicted at the Tiger
Creek web site. “We were told that another lioness, Lilly, had
died,” Asvestas said.
Werner insisted that Salome and Stormy were both sterilized.
He referred ANIMAL PEOPLE to veterinarian Jill K. Hobbs, of the
Hawkins Pet & Exotic Animal Clinic in Hawkins, Texas.
Replied Hobbs, “Enclosed is the receipt and notes for
Salome’s spay, done on July 19, 2001. I am sending it with the
permission and at the request of Brian Werner of Tiger Missing Link.
We also spayed a cougar the same summer. These are the only cats I
have neutered for Tiger Missing Link. Since the male lion is not
neutered, he might still attempt to breed, but the female would not
allow it.
“The lion Lilly had come from the humane society and was
returned to them. She was not spayed by me.”
Commented Asvestas, “I know the lioness I saw was most
definitely enjoying herself, and not in the least bit worried about
the male’s overtures. I am completely lost on this one. If you
figure it out, let me know.”

Eberle says…

Fundraiser Bruce Eberle, the focus of previous ANIMAL PEOPLE
exposes in September and October 2000, responded only to the four
concluding paragraphs of “Plight of Kabul Zoo brings dubious
fundraising claims,” concerning his work for Wildlife Waystation.
Asserted the first of three related messages from Eberle on
March 21, “After nearly 30 years in business I have never once
charged a client a fee based on a percent of funds raised. My agency
has always charged a flat fee for our services. Our flat fee for
Wildlife Waystation, when calculated, amounts to approximately 6.5%
of the total sum raised for them. This fee is typical of all our
clients.”
Said the second Eberle message, “Since I make a habit of
correcting my errors, let me correct one in the e-mail I just sent to
you. Our flat fee, when calculated, typically amounts to about 6.5%
of the total cost of the direct mail program, not 6.5% of the total
sum raised.”
Amended the third Eberle message, “Last year Wildlife
Waystation received $572,500 from the direct mail campaign we
conducted on their behalf. The total cost to raise that sum was
$845,354. My calculator shows that $.67 out of every dollar raised
went to WWS. Other clients had similar results. I won’t look for a
retraction.”
At this point, we e-mailed to Wildlife Waystation, “If you
invest $845,354, recoup all that money, and take in another
$572,500 as your net gain from the campaign, your total receipts
should be $1,417,854. To determine what percentage of the gross you
kept, divide $572,500 by $1,417,854. That shows that you kept $.40
of each dollar raised, not $.67. Looks as if Eberle should look for
a new calculator. Eberle used ambiguous grammar in the passage
above, and that is the interpretation of what he said that would be
most generous to him. Another way to read it is that you took in
only $572,500 after investing $845,354, which would leave the
Waystation with a deficit of $272,854. ”
Six hours after sending his third message, Eberle wrote:
“It is correct that $.67 of every dollar raised went to
Wildlife Waystation. What is incorrect is that the cost to raise
that sum was $845,354. That sum, $845,354, is the total amount
raised, not the cost. The cost (on a cash basis) for 2001 was then
$272,854.”
The Wise Giving Alliance, formed by a merger of the National
Charities Information Bureau with the Council of Better Business
Bureaus Philanthropic Advisory Service, recommends that fundraising
plus administrative costs should not exceed 35% of the total annual
expenses of a reputable charity.
The most recent available IRS Form 990 filings from known
animal protection clients of Eberle indicate that fundraising costs
alone came to 74% of expenditures by the Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary,
which Eberle promoted as “Tiger Tracks” until founder Kay McElroy
severed their association late in the year; 59% of expenditures by
Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue; and 69% of expenditures by Tiger Haven.
Wildlife Waystation did not list payments to Eberle on IRS
Form 990. Wildlife Waystation founder Martine Colette told ANIMAL
PEOPLE that this was because Eberle was paid on a commission
basis–although even if he was, the costs associated with the direct
mailings he did should have been declared.

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