Letters [Jan/Feb 2004]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:
Thank you for once again publishing “Who gets the money?” and
the ANIMAL PEOPLE Standards for Ethical Charities and Fundraisers.
I have survived involvement in animal advocacy as an
employee, volunteer, and donor for four decades. As a donor, I
would like to share a few preliminary screening points. Perhaps
other ANIMAL PEOPLE readers have additional comments. If the
following aggravations are evident, I don’t have to look up features
like administration/program ratios, because the appeal for
membership or a donation is already in the waste basket.
1) Salaries. The first thing I do when I get an appeal is
look up the organziation’s IRS Form 990 at <www.guidestar.org>. An
organization that can afford to pay an employee or board member
$100,000 per year does not need my money. The potential donor must
look closely because the section of the Form 990 that reports board
members’ salaries is usually somewhat removed from the section that
reports salaries of employees who make more than $50,000 a year.
Also, occasionally the chief executive has a moderate salary while a
subordinate is cleaning up.
2) The Appeal itself. Many groups seem to either use the
same fundraising firm, or send their development personnel to the
same seminar. There are two double-sided pages of densely packed
self-promotional drivel. Words are circled in colored ink, and
there are colored marginal notations, complete with swirls and
asterisks. Beyond the requisite tear-jerking case or two, these
don’t really say much. (That’s good, because donors might be too
busy to read the sloppy-looking thing anyway.) But the most
patronizing ingredient is the faux executive signature–again,
usually in colored ink. Surely few people believe that the exec
actually signed thousands of these things, so why the pretense?
Organizations that can, on one page, concisely specify
problems, solutions, and accomplishments have a better chance of
getting my attention.
3) Timing dissonance. For example, maybe a previous
donation or membership renewal didn’t appear on your bank or credit
card statement within two statement periods. Or, perhaps an
organization issues “emergency appeals” several times a year.
Again, these are only preliminary considerations. After the
membership request or donation appeal clears this initial phase, the
real work starts. Whether our contribution is $100 or $100,000, we
as donors are responsible for making sure our money is effectively
St. Louis, Missouri
Fundraisers in all branches of charity, at all levels, tend
to agree that while the concise one-page statement of problems,
solutions, and accomplishments is most effective in approaching
corporate donors, personal letters bring the best response from
If a personal letter cannot be sent, the next most effective is an
appeal that looks as much like a personal letter as possible.
Ever skeptical of conventional wisdom, ANIMAL PEOPLE issued
only concise one-page or two-page statements of problems, solutions,
and accomplishments during our first three years–and just barely
survived. Broke and out of options, we finally shifted to a more
conventional four-page appeal format, using colored underlines very
selectively to make our most important points to recipients who might
only skim the text, and including our printed signatures in color.
The success of that appeal, astounding compared to previous
results, not only kept us alive but enabled us to add pages to the
ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper, obtain urgently needed equipment, start
our web site, and markedly expand our international outreach.
We still work almost around the clock and worry constantly
about making ends meet, but have been able to accomplish vastly more
for the effort and anxiety expended since we discovered the
importance of writing our appeals as if they were personal letters
and of using colored underlines to make sure the key messages get
Now we teach these techniques to others.
Certainly any attention-getting device used with an appeal
can be overused, and many devices are used which we believe are
fundamentally dishonest and should never be used, for example
disguising an appeal as an invoice, a telegram, an express mail
packet, or a government document. In my personal opinion, any
charity that uses such tactics should be permanently struck from the
list of those receiving a donor’s support–and any charity that sends
money with an appeal.
Unsolicited merchandise is in a somewhat different category,
since promotional calendars, address stickers, t-shirts, note
paper, and other items that help to familiarize the public with the
name and mission of a charity may have longterm value even if the
recipient never makes a donation.
However, the recipient should be aware that the first $20 or more
that is sent to the charity distributing the merchandise will often
be used to solicit larger and more frequent contributions.
Sheep on a ship for three months
I played in a golf tournament recently when it was a stifling
39.8 degrees Celsius.
Now, I am reasonably fit and I was on the course for only
four and a half hours. I also had the benefit of frequent deliveries
of iced drinks, cold towels, lightweight cotton clothing, pleasant
company and was doing something I love passionately.
My mindset in being there was happy and calm. I certainly
was not stressed by having to show up on the first tee; I was on the
course by choice.
I also knew that at the end I could have a cool shower, relax
in the palatial comfort of an air-conditioned clubhouse over a drink
with a group of good friends, and drive an air-conditioned car to my
air-conditioned home in time for a leisurely dinner.
Well, I suffered from heat-stroke that debilitated me for
days. Fair dinkum, it damn near killed me. I actually felt like my
lungs and leg muscles were melting. As I trudged up each hill,
gasping for breath, I imagined how our pitiful Australian sheep
felt, who were shipped to Kuwait in early August and not unloaded in
Eritrea until mid-November . . . in suffocating 45 degree heat,
crammed into steel cages, burning up, terrified, seasick for weeks
on end. They were certainly not there by choice. No pleasant
evening awaited them. They were going to certain death.
Donald Horne wrote that Australia is the “Lucky Country.”
Bob Hawke said he wanted us to go beyond and become the “Clever
Country.” I would prefer for us to become known as the
The Winsome Constance
Political training workshop
I recently attended a political training course presented by
Julie Lewin, president of the nonprofit National Institute for
Animal Advocacy. It will profoundly alter my approach to animal
At the workshop, which was cosponsored by Georgia Legal
Professionals for Animals and the Connecticut Humane Society, Lewin
diagrammed how animal advocates can achieve much more by becoming
political in our towns, cities, counties and states. She explained
step-by-step how to organize voting blocks for animals, citing
fascinating case studies.
Reflecting over the weeks since I took the intensive one-day
course, I am startled to realize how much time animal advocates
waste in ineffective talk and nonproductive effort, and how little
it would take to really make a difference if our work was effectively
NIFAA has been formed to create a political culture among
animal advocates and to train us how to function politically. I will
begin 2004 by fundraising to help NIFAA publish a political training
manual for animal advocates. My own check has already been sent.
I highly recommend inviting Lewin to give her course in your
community. This course not only educated us, but also brought
together in one room dozens of prominent animal advocates, which
had never before happened locally.
You can learn more about NIFAA and contact Lewin at P.O. Box 475,
Guilford, CT 06437; 203-453-6590; <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The McAleer Group, Inc.
7146 Big Woods Drive
Woodstock, GA 30189
Your December 2003 Court Calendar item stating that “The
Georgia Court of Appeals on November 14 dismissed a defamation case
filed by the Atlanta Humane Society and executive director Bill
Garrett against ex-employee and vocal critic Barbara Harkins” may
lead your readers to believe the case is over.
The AHS and Garrett appealed the Harkins decision to the
Georgia Supreme Court on December 16, and appealed the identical
decision in my case on December 29. If the Georgia Supreme Court
refuses to hear the appeals, as we expect, the cases will be
remanded to trial court for dismissal and refund of legal fees,
which will be a lengthy process. If the Georgia Supreme Court agrees
to hear the appeals, the litigation will continue for a third year
and probably longer.
Love-letter from Limerick
We at the Animal Rights Action Network love how you highlight
how the big groups raise and then pay themselves most of the money
that should be spent on the animals.
120 Vale Avenue,
Best Friends pet club
Your “Who Gets the Money” in the latest Animal People is
enlightening, as always–but we don’t have a revoloving presidency.
I’m it. And giving up one’s salary is not a precondition of being
president of Best Friends.
I gave up my salary a couple of years ago and get paid from
the proceeds of the Best Friends Pet Club, which is a side venture
run by Steven Hirano, myself, and one other person. It sells
T-shirts, mugs, the small books I did, etc. It is our hope that
the Pet Club will make sufficient money in years to come to be able
to provide for some of the older founders of Best Friends when they
retire (some are in their late sixties already), and to do other
things for animals and rescuers that we approve of but that don’t
quite meet the strict standards of what we feel we should be using
members’ donations for.
I took home approximately $30,000 this year from the Pet Club
after taxes were paid. (If you want to list it in future years, I
can send details.) And I do still get a few hundred dollars from
Best Friends–enough for me to be able to pay back into our health
–Michael Mountain, President
Best Friends Animal Society
Kanab, UT 84741
Donor defense editorial
Your December 2003 editorial, “Donor Defense in a Desperate
Cause,” was extremely informative and valuable. I am definitely
more educated in donating my money, and I deeply thank you for your
research and “watchdog” approach. I do not want to contribute any
money to masked anti-humane organizations that have a hidden agenda
of self-interest and profit via animal cruelty. Thank you for your
commitment and honesty. Thank you for your work. Thank you
for solidly stating that all animals deserve humane treatment and a
life free of suffering. Your publication is perhaps the most
important in our fight for humane treatment of the voiceless, in
exposing cruelty, and stopping it. Again, thank you.
–Diana von Holdt
Concerning your November 2003 letters page discussion “Should
horses go barefoot,” a horse hoof grows steadily at about one
centimeter or three-eighths of an inch per a month. In the wild,
the hoof wears away at this rate, so the hoof remains short and
balanced, with a rounded toe. As a wild horse travels about 25
miles a day, a naturally pastured horse ridden off paved roads can
probably manage very well unshod. When we work a horse beyond what
it evolved to do–as on paved roads –the hoof wears away faster than
it grows. That horse needs shoes.
All domestic horses, shod or not, benefit from regular
inspection by a skilled farrier. Unskilled shoeing is bad news,
especially if the toes are left too long, leading to imbalance and
tendon strain. The closer the shod foot replicates the hoof of the
healthy wild horse, the better. This can be done: my work horses
have excellent shod feet.
Stefan cel Mare
Horse Riding Centre
and Working Horse
Assn. of Romania
Str. Bolovanu nr. 340
4545 Lunca Ilvei
We recently visited the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rescue Centre,
directed by Kartick Satyanarayan, and the Friendicoes animal
hospital and sanctuary in Delhi, directed by Geeta Seshamani. Both
were mentioned in your November 2003 article “Rehabiitating Asian
The bear sanctuary, as you reported, is entirely funded by
foreign groups, but the Indian government donated the forest land it
occupies. It is guarded like Jurasic Park with high electric
fencing. The bears, both the old and the cubs, are wonderful.
They have a totally natural wooded environment, with acres of land,
huge trees they climb, and they jump and splash in the water,
socializing with each other so joyfully that it is hard to believe
anyone would ever abuse and torture such a magical sweet-natured
Kartick was assisted while we were there by a former
zookeeper from Australia. He was helping to improve their feeding
regimen and their water system.
The Wildlife SOS emphasis right now is on taking in newly
poached baby bears, who still have their teeth and health.
The cubs we saw were big babies with full teeth and nails.
The keepers’ clothes at times were in shreds. They played rough and
threw water and dirt all over, never standing still. They were like
little moving black long-haired haystacks. To hear them sucking up
their food was like listening to an entire fire department sucking
water out of hydrants.
The saddest cases were the blind bears. Even one small cub
was blind from bad nutrition after being poached. Several older
bears who were worked for dancing are also blind, and afraid of
anything strange and new.
The Wildlife SOS X-ray, blood lab, surgical rooms, and so
forth were all simple but perfect, and spotless–unusual for India.
The Friendicoes dog, cat, and equine facilities are also
state-of-the-art exquisite. The employees adore the animals and it
shows in the cleanliness and huge airy rooms provided for the dogs
I was so dead tired after the day at the bear sanctuary that
I wanted to lie down and join the cats. On the top floor of the
three-story cat facility is a bedroom for the overnight caretaker and
many sleeping boxes for cats. A male macque who lost one leg in an
accident lives among the cats, by his own preference. He is good as
gold toward them, and toward the human caretakers and visitors. He
is the monkey god of the cats.
In addition we spent time with the rescued donkeys and the
ex-Delhi police horses who came in recently, starving and in
horrible condition. They were to have been shot if Friendicoes had
not accepted them. They too were looked after by a visibly loving
staff, who maintain immaculate conditions.
Dharma Donkey Sanctuary
1720 E. Jeter Road
Bartonville, TX 76226
[Bonny and Ratilal Shah operate sanctuaries in both Texas and India.] CUPA, Blue Cross of India, Visakha SPCA
I just returned from three weeks in South India. If anyone
requires information about Compassion Unlimited Plus Action in
Bangalore, the Blue Cross of India in Chennai, and the Visakha SPCA
in Visakhapatnam, or about the inspiring, fabulous, dedicated
animal/humanitarian volunteers I was honored to meet there, please
feel free to contact me. All of these organizations have U.S.
contacts available to accept tax deductible donations and the dollar
is exchanged presently for 45 rupees-so donations go very far indeed.
For example, a dog sterilization can cost as little as 70 rupees.
These groups and many others are trying to humanely implement
Animal Birth Control programs for street dogs all over India but
funds are desperately needed. As ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in December
2003, the ABC programs are constantly threatened by counterforces
who want to go back to cruelly killing street dogs.
As the ABC programs succeed in keeping the dog numbers down,
also helping to eradicate rabies, the sweet, gentle, and
generally adorable street dogs are allowed to live in peace as valued
members of their neighborhood.
All of the groups I visited are also active in cattle and
large animal rescue; wildlife and environmental issues; enforcement
of humane laws for all animals; and promoting the vegetarian
The Visakha SPCA is among the leaders in trying to stop the
illegal slaughter of green sea turtles and protect their nesting
habitat along the Bay of Bengal. Some of the turtles who nest in the
Visakhapatnam area may be more than 100 years old. Unlike in the
U.S., there are no environmental groups that are locally active on
behalf of sea turtles, and no local presence of international
wildlife charities either, so this kind of work is left to the
Four lines of text were lost from “Who gets the money?”
footnote #41, about PETsMART Charities, on page 19 of the December
2003 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE. The note should have read,
“PETsMART Charities revenue included $5.4 million in customer
contributions, $1 million in employee contributions, $568,589 in
board and corporate contributions, $5,497 in vendor contributions,
and $5.5 million in rent, goods, and services. PETsMART Charities
made grants totaling $2.6 million, gave $1.1 million in ‘Adoption
Partner’ program support, and gave $5.5 million in rent, goods,
and services. In addition to the allocations by PETsMART Charities,
PETsMART Inc. gave $1.4 million in grants to nonprofit animal welfare
A simple typographical error on page 15 of “Who gets the
money?” misidentified the advocacy and education group Compassion
Over Killing as a sanctuary.