My mom used to tell me, “You could sell snow to an Eskimo.” In fact my very first job was selling stereos, I sold stereos before I could drive. Later I taught seminars on sales and motivation… and I can promote and I can SELL. The reason I preface with these statements is to explain my somewhat purposeful failure at being a great fundraiser for myself. Perhaps it goes back to a statement I was told by a mentor, “Righteous people promise very little but deliver a lot, others promise a lot but deliver very little.” I was always drawn to that statement and that way of life. I don’t like braggers, showoffs, liars and I don’t like people who bullshit… and there are plenty of those. In fact I see most of the people that are very successful are just those type of people. Every once in a while someone will sneak in and succeed just to score one for the good guys.
This same holds true for non-profits, be they animal related or others. There was a special on CNN over the weekend pointing out just such orgs. Groups that take in millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars promising a service that never gets delivered. What does get delivered is a lot of marketing and good salaries. This special focused mainly on veteran orgs, but I see it in the animal community as well. Another thing that happens is back-stabbing and riding the coat-tails of another’s success. If one group is successful in getting something done, then several other groups will send out email, newsletters or posts promoting it. Even if they don’t directly claim credit, they insinuate it to such a degree that donors will give to the group that promotes it the best.
This brings me to an important point, these groups that are constantly promoting “things they do and believe in,” be it via TV ads, emails, direct mails or other media are so busy with this promotion that no one who is really doing the work could keep up. I for example hardly have time to ever send an email or post a blog, look at my crappy record for promoting. Yet at least a few times a day I get emails and direct mails from groups showing what they’re doing and what they’ve done… all attached with a solicitation for donations. Knowing what I know and who I know, I know most of this is BullShit. I’ve seen several groups claim credit for the live pet sale ban here in LA and I can promise, the ONE person that holds the most responsibility has NEVER claimed credit yet – nor received it.
Yes, it’s for the greater good, but the big orgs don’t see it like that. The big national groups come in hustle the people to donate under the guise that they are doing something, then dole out a mere pittance, if anything, to the small groups. For that the small groups keep their mouths shut and hope for more. Yes, they know it’s true, but they won’t join in the protest in fear of the retaliation of the super-groups. WELL…. I ain’t afraid of anyone. I’ve got skeletons in my closet, but I’ve already told everyone about them! I don’t care if I ever get another donation. What I do is my life’s-work and whether I take in another dime, lose my 501 status or whatever, I will continue. In fact I make a hell of a lot more money outside of Bound Angels than I do within. So if someone wants to come in and play, I’m ready to roll.
These groups know who they are, the ones with the great TV commercials, the billboards, the slick mailings and the cult like followings. Every time I post something like this I get the phone calls and the emails telling my that I’m wrong, perhaps I’m jealous or some other sort of mental-masturbation… but the truth is, I’m right. Little rescues, little organizations that work their assess off tirelessly, shelters that are slammed with more animals than they can handle, destitute people who can’t afford to fix their pets, let alone feed them really could use some help from up on the ivory tower, but they don’t get it. Celebrities and anyone attached to a big lump of cash gets the calls returned, gets the dog they want rescued… all the while forgetting those that are meant to be served by their work.
Trust me, if you look at a national disaster, you’ll see the jackets and the t-shirts of the big guys. You’ll get a mailing claiming that this org will be helping a local shelter, but that’s just about it. Having the biggest wallet lets you get the promotion, the PR and the eye of the giving public. It also allows you to solicit more donations to keep the circle-jerk going. Please consider this when you give your hard-earned money. It’s your money, you can do what you want with it, but before you do, ask yourself, what will give the most bang for the buck.
I’ve been on the inside of this for quite some time and I see how people with lots of money are courted, and these are very good people… they really care for the animals and want to do the right thing. These groups are slick and that’s why they are so successful. If they were busy doing what they say they are doing they would be a lot less likely to be able to raise the funds they need.
Before you give next time, why not take a look at sites like Charity Navigator or Guidestar and see how much money these orgs take in, how much they pay out and how much they have in their reserves. It’s really easy to do.
You think I’m pissed, you’re right. I’ve seen this far too many times and it’s bullshit! Stop supporting those who do very little other than marketing. Look for someone who is really doing something and help them. There are plenty of them around! And for the big guys, if you want to challenge this, you know where I am!