Canadian local & regional humane societies call “national” appeals misleading
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2006:
MONTREAL–An old grievance of U.S. local and regional humane
societies has erupted across Canada in response to appeals by the
shelterless Toronto-based Humane Society of Canada and the
Montreal-based Canadian SPCA, which operates a shelter and
sterilization clinic in Montreal.
Both organizations are widely seen as poaching on local turf,
but Canadian SPCA mailings have raised the most visible ire.
“Fundraising appeals sent by the Montreal SPCA list local
postal boxes on the donation pledge form, so that donors in Nova
Scotia would mail to a Halifax address and those in Saskatchewan to a
Moose Jaw address,” wrote Toronto Globe & Mail Montreal
correspondent Tu Thanh Ha.
“We find it quite annoying. We have a hard enough time
fundraising for ourselves,” Moose Jaw Humane Society director Ray
Whitney told Tu Thanh Ha.
“In Alberta, confusion created by Montreal SPCA fundraising
led the Edmonton SPCA to change its name to the Edmonton Humane
Society,” Tu Thanh Ha continued.
“The standard Montreal SPCA fundraising letter has a Montreal
address in a corner of its first page,” Tu Thanh Ha acknowledged.
“At the bottom is the mention proudly serving the animals of Quebec
since 1869. But other agencies say the letter does not explicitly
explain that donations will go only to Montreal, or that the
Canadian SPCA is not a national society.”
Responded Canadian SPCA executive director Pierre Barnoti,
to Alana Coates of the Montreal Gazette, “Why should there be
borders and boundaries when it comes to saving animals? I am
appalled for this ‘Get off our turf’ attitude.”
Barnoti told Tu Thanh Ha that he would welcome fundraising in
Quebec by other humane organizations.
The controversy heated up as result of pre-Christmas 2006
appeals, but has flared before. Nova Scotia SPCA president Judith
Gass “is not wearing her shiny new T-shirt from the Canadian SPCA,
though she’s considering a small bonfire,” the Nova Scotia SPCA has
stated on their web site since June 2005. “The Quebec-based
organization has the privilege of using “Canadian” as part of their
legal name because they were the first SPCA in Canada to incorporate,
but they are not a national organization,” the web site continues,
“no matter what their country-wide solicitations and their ‘your
source for everything SPCA’ website implies.”
Similar objections surfaced soon after the 1993 incorporation
of the Humane Society of Canada. Originally a subsidiary of the
Humane Society of the U.S., the Humane Society of Canada went
independent after founding president Michael O’Sullivan alleged in a
1996 lawsuit that HSUS improperly and illegally claimed $1 million
that was raised in Canada. Ontario Court of Justice Judge Bruce C.
Hawkins in January 1997 ordered HSUS to repay $740,000 to the Humane
Society of Canada–but the order did nothing to satisfy other humane
organizations across Canada.
Essentially the same issue surfaced in the U.S. soon after
HSUS incorporated in 1954 as the “National Humane Society,” and was
sued for alleged misleading solicitation by the American Humane
Association, on behalf of local and regional humane societies. The
original National Humane Society became HSUS in 1956, in settlement
of the case. Two different unrelated organizations now use the name
“National Humane Society.”
Fundraising under institutional names that sound “national”
even if they are not became ubiquitous after the 1968 privatization
of the U.S. Postal Service introduced volume discounts for bulk
direct mail–and fundraisers discovered that although many donors
become confused about the missions of the charities they hear from,
the additional awareness of issues created by the high-volume mailers
can help local organizations, if local organizations adopt
comparably aggressive tactics to boost their community visibility.
Personal solicitation by local charities is still believed to
be the most effective of all fundraising methods.