Awhile back The Agitator awarded one of its “You deserve a raise” accolades to the marketing team at ASPCA for their creative use of online video.

A few days ago the New York Times ran this piece noting some criticism of ASPCA for what some regard as an insufficient allocation of budget to the group's Humane Law Enforcement arm. Apparently about 6% of the group's $58 million budget (or $3.6 million) goes to the team that responds to specific animal cruelty complaints, making it one of the largest programs of its kind in America.

Still, some, including an Agitator reader who “agitated” to us, believe that's insufficient. “Where does the money go?” he asked.

It's hard for outsiders, even the NYT, to penetrate the ins and outs of priority-setting in a nonprofit. In this case, some knowledgeable observers were cited as supportive of ASPCA; some others were critical; no one alleged malfeasance of any kind. The “debate” was all about priorities.

First, we have to say that complaining the ASPCA is not responding to enough of the animal abuse claims it receives strikes us a bit like attacking Worldvision because it isn't nurturing enough needy children in Africa. The sad reality is that demand exceeds supply in all kinds of situations where suffering is occurring.

And, we observe that the ASPCA clearly has a multi-pronged strategy for dealing with animal abuse, including financing an animal hospital, making grants to other animal welfare groups, increasing pet adoptions, lowering euthanasia rates, AND — that bugaboo of all nonprofit critics — spending money on marketing and communications (which received $6.5 million).

Now, The Agitator admits to being wildly biased, but in our experience, VERY few nonprofits spend too much on selling themselves and their agenda. In fact, the reverse is the case.

Of course, fundraising efficiencies need to be appropriate. But still, most groups — especially those whose business is to advocate and educate and persuade — spend too little doing precisely that.

In the case of the ASPCA, it appears that 11% of the budget is spent on communications. Assuming the money is spent efficiently and smartly, we'd have no trouble endorsing two or three times that amount! Why? Because, if strategically spent, it will generate even greater financial and public support going forward.

But there's more …

Continue reading “Fair Pay At ASPCA?”

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