GUIDELINES FOR GIVING

Those of us who love animals do whatever we can to better their condition, whether it is on behalf of wild animals by helping to preserve habitat and raise awareness, or by supporting a local shelter for homeless companion animals, or just by doing the best we can to rescue and protect our own. Some of the more fortunate among us may also be able to give to non-profit organizations to further their efforts. If you donate or are considering a donation to help animals, you should know that there are guidelines to follow when choosing where to give.

The number of non-profits dedicated to helping animals continues to grow. They range from large, multi-million dollar, international organizations to small, one-owner sanctuaries. Some are legitimate; others simply play on the sympathies of animal lovers. There are nonprofit organizations that make money for their executive officers, but little, if any, of the proceeds go to animals. And there are those that blatantly misrepresent what they actually do.

The most important guidelines to follow when donating are:

Thoroughly read all printed literature and the information provided on web sites. If the individual, group or organization does not fully disclose where the money goes, do not donate. If you have any doubts, contact them and ask them to tell you how they make use of gifts.

Many generous contributors are shocked to learn that some environmental and conservation groups use donations to support activities that are extremely harmful to animals and accomplish little or nothing to protect the environment. For example, some organizations support and even promote the poisoning of animals to test pesticides and other chemicals already known to be toxic. In fact, several well-known environmental groups are directly responsible for the creation of what have become the most massive animal-testing programs in history.

Hiding harmful activities behind the guise of environmentalism and conservation is called “greenwashing.” If you are a member of or donate money to environmental or conservation groups, you may wish to consider this information to be sure that your donations are not being used to support greenwashing activities that harm animals.

Find out the organization’s policy on hunting, experimentation and animal use in entertainment. There are organizations that legitimately preserve habitat, but do so primarily to give hunters green space and quarry rather than to protect animals. There are wildlife organizations that believe culling numbers for seal populations are appropriate. In this case, culling actually means clubbing. Some animal organizations even support the hunting of endangered species, animal use in entertainment, dolphin swims, circuses and the torture of animals in the name of science. Many so-called animal sanctuaries are actually roadside zoos were neglected exotic animals in small enclosures are used to make a profit at the animals expense.