Thursday, April 21, 2011

According to a Blog and Humane Watch, HSUS Only Has Only 450,000 Members

Terrierman posted yesterday "The Vanishing Members of HSUS". It is basically a reiteration of a Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) 2010 post. (Information on CCF)

Terrierman - perhaps rhetorically - asks if anyone read the article from a May/June 2010 issue of All Animals, HSUS' membership magazine, in which Terrierman is quoted. Raise your hands up! *points to self* Look at me! I'm not even a member of HSUS! But Mr. Burns seems to think no one has read it. So to increase the readership of this article to >1 (me), here it is.

Onto the mathematical gymnastics of both Terrierman and CCF (HumaneWatch).

First, you should know something about nonprofits. I work for one, so I know a smidgen! Like, for example, each quarter, we print a magazine. It's small and totally adorbs, because there are cute farmed animals in it doing silly things like snuggling. Anyway, here are some magical numbers for you to ponder. Let's say our entire donor database says we have 18,000 active donors. These are folks who have given us money in the past year. There are 2,000 people who haven't given in 12.01 months. And another 1,000 who will get purged at the end of the year if they don't sell us their soul stat! So you could say we have 21,000 people in our donation database. If we wanted, we could even say we had a membership base of 21,000.

This of course does not include our members who support us through volunteering, follow us on facebook, twitter, through our e-news alert, etc. If I included those people, I could add, say, another 10,000 people to our membership base super easy-peasy.

But back to our print magazine. Let's say we mail it to our donors who give $20 and above in the past 12-months. Our donor database program can winnow down our mail list to just those who have given that amount in a year. Say of the 18,000 donors who gave in the past 12-months, 10,000 donated $20 or more. And of that 10,000, 9,500 want to receive our print newsletter. They get a newsletter. We print an extra 2,000 to mail to new donors who give $20 or more (until our next newsletter is printed, then we switch to the more recent version)and to hand out at events. Would you suggest that the number of magazines we mail out is indicative of our entire membership base? That would mean instead of a donor base of 18,000, we really only have 9,500. Does that make any sense?

That's the math Terrierman and CCF/HumaneWatch uses to convince readers that HSUS does not have 11 million members but it has 450,000 and, REALLY, it only has 45,000 because Terrierman estimates only 1/10 of the recipients of All Animals actually READS the magazine. I estimate that is 9/10th's bullshit. I mean, he could be totally correct, but it's just a number he made up, not an actual estimate of Real Readers of All Animals.

Reality check, folks. If HSUS prints 450,000 All Animals magazines and mails them only to members who donate $25 or more in a year AND who opt-in to receive the magazine...that does not mean HSUS only has 450,000 members. You saw above how I got to 9,500 recipients of our amazingly awesome magazine, right? To do so meant starting with a larger number of people and winnowing that list down for printing!

Now, according to their 990, HSUS receives 92% of its "income" from the public (apparently you only need 33 1/3 to qualify as a publicly supported non-profit!). Theoretically that means of the nearly 100 million dollars they received in 2009, 92 million of it was from public donations. Now maybe HSUS has only wealthy donors, but the only way for HSUS to make that kind of money with only 450,000 so-called members (and donors), those 450,000 people need to be giving $204 a year.

That is not impossible, of course, but it is not really that plausible, either, since I've already pretty well established HSUS has more than 450,000 people on existing donor list. But just in case I didn't well-establish that factoid - remember, the 450,000 excludes the people who donate less than $25/year and those who donate more but opt-out of print-mailings. I know a few people who donate to HSUS, and they don't give $204 a year!

If HSUS had 11 million members and that was defined only as people who donated, then the average donation would be $8 per person.

That is also implausible. Not impossible, but I would find it surprising, given what I know about non-profits. I know epic amounts of stuff about non profits. Just trust me on that.

The average donation given to any charity varies DRAMATICALLY. St. Jude's claims an average donation of just $35 for its 5 million donors, and it receives way more money than HSUS. The Salvation Army claims an average donation in 2009 of $195. They too receive a lot more money than HSUS. It is still virtually impossible for HSUS to have a membership base of only 450,000 because of all that stuff I wrote above, peoples.

I do not know how HSUS defines a member. I don't care, either. I'm just here to kindly refute the inaccurate and fallacious claim that HSUS only has 450,000 members because on their tax form they mailed out 450,000 magazines. And that CCF is smarmy and creepy. And that Terrierman is wrong, bam!

The end.

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