The recent holiday season was no different for many Americans. It is a time of giving with many of them considering a donation to their local pet shelter. While that intention is admirable, most identify their donor organization based on promotional materials, many of which are seen on television. "Promo-pieces" utilizing the saddened face of a dog or cat with their pet shelter cages in the background, tug at the hearts and checkbooks of individuals with the "holiday spirt".
As will givers to these homeless pets, many fail to do their homework as they choose an organization to send their contribution. An analysis by the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) may have provided guidance for this holiday season's pet shelter donors. GMAG compiled a report of all the ads aired by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) from 2009 to September 2011. The following list offers some insight into the HSUS TV campaign and use of proceeds generated by the ads:
- Less than 1% of the ads noted that HSUS is a separate entity from local pet shelters
- An estimated $11.2 million was spent on ads without this disclaimer
- An estimated $8,000 was spent on ads that included a fine print disclaimer
- Ninety percent of HSUS's, "Everything Christmas" collection of ads featured pets yet few shelters for abandoned pets will likely ever see the proceeds
Campaign ads such as these run by HSUS target the emotions of potential donors and may cause misperceptions for them. According to national polling, the following are some of those misconceptions reported:
- Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans believe that HSUS spends most of its money funding local pet shelters when in reality they spend only one percent (1%)
- Seventy-one percent (71%) of the people surveyed thought that HSUS was associated with their local pet shelters. They are not.
- Similarly, seventy-one percent (71%) of polled Americans mistakenly believed that HSUS is a pet shelter umbrella group while they are not.
Americans were asked each year to share a portion of their earnings with hundreds of needy causes and they respond with their checkbooks. However, as they do so, they might be well advised to do some homework investigating what an organization stand for and how their donations will be used. For assistance in identifying reputable organizations who actually use your donations for the care of pets and support animal shelters, visit the "Humane Watch" website.