Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

SPCA International Donations

When the coronavirus hit the United States last year, the pandemic sent shockwaves through the animal welfare community. In those early days, before everyone you knew contracted the "pet epidemic," adoptions actually slowed as people adjusted to prison life and many animal shelters had to close.

Into the void stepped New York-based charity Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, for which the pandemic presented a useful and profitable opportunity.

SOVID has been a public relations boon for the organization, with its leaders quoted in the New York Times, the Detroit News and a lengthy write-up by Forbes.

In an uncertain spectacle for animal lovers - remember when people weren't sure if their pets could spread the virus? SCAI management presented itself as a trusted expert. "Our global partnerships have given us a unique view of what's going on," the charity's then chief executive, Meredith Ian, told a reporter last year.

The railroad strike had been looming for years

Amid this PR blitzkrieg, the group used all the classic animal fundraising metaphors — majestic dogs with big, sad eyes, for example — harnessing the enduring power of cute puppies to separate people from their dollars with pleas urging donors to they save the "hungry."

Abandoned pets. SCAI's request from May last year showed the dire situation in India during the brutal wave of the pandemic. "They are operating with structural staffing due to reduced mobility and increased number of COVID-19 cases," the email warned.

"And they quickly run out of money." The appeal promised that donations would be sent "to groups in India that keep animals safe". But anyone who has spent time digging into the group's financials will find reason to worry about where their money actually ends up.

Despite the nearly identical acronyms, SPCAI is not affiliated with the 155-year-old American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the ones you know from the Sarah McLachlan commercials) or your local animal shelter.

Unlike shelters that directly care for rescued animals, the SPCAI, which boasted an annual budget of $21 million in its most recent tax filing, is even more troubling, raising money without letting funders know that the organization, at best, case, is essentially a Channel.

While she runs some programs herself, including a much-publicized effort to reunite U.S. soldiers with homeless animals they befriended during their deployments, she mostly works to redirect the money she receives to other nonprofits through grants. The distinction is often lost in SPCAI advertisements, which are about more direct action.

Many other nonprofits operate in a similar way, but primarily grant-making organizations can be easy fodder for cash when so little of that money goes toward the organization's purported charitable mission. (A SCAI spokesman said the charity had "awarded grants to more than 300 animal welfare organizations since 2007, including shelters around the world".)

SPCA International Fundraising Appeals

Contrary to claims in fundraising appeals, most of the money SPCAI raises never ends up in the hands of an animal shelter. Since it was founded by the charity's longtime CEO Pierre Barnotti as the international branch of an animal welfare charity in Montreal, the SPCAI has spent just over 20 percent of its total revenue on genuine programs and services that help animals.

CharityWatch, a leading rating company, says that "high-performing" charities devote at least 75 percent of their donations to program services.

The recipient of most of SPCAI's donations during that time is a controversial series of fundraising companies that have often been the target of state and congressional investigators.

Thanks to its expensive direct mail fundraising campaign, SPCAI has generated more than $170 million in revenue since its inception in 2006, a staggering amount for any nonprofit organization, let alone one with fewer than 10 employees. full time on his website.

But more than 40 percent of that sum went to companies run by Mark Schulhoff and members of his family, who maintain long-term relationships with Barnotti. SPCAI's review of financial documents and interviews with several people associated with Barnuti and the charity show that he refused to cut ties with the Schulhoffs, even after their original company agreed.