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May 3, 2020


Where Does $100 to the ASPCA Go (2018)?

by Anne Paddock

If you donated $100 to the ASPCA in 2018 and want to know how your donation was spent, know that more than half ($52) went to pay staff, office-related expenses, travel and conferences.  $26 went to pay advertising and promotion and fees for outside services, including professional fundraisers. $10 out of every $100 was spent on veterinary services, operating supplies, and grants to other non-profits whose mission is to help protect animals. $2 out of every $100 was spent on miscellaneous expenses leaving $10 unspent and allocated to the organization’s general fund.

The ASPCA is one of the most widely recognized non-profits focused on animal welfare in the country.  Founded in 1866, the ASPCA has been around for more than 150 years.  As is the case with most non-profits, the issue isn’t whether the ASPCA does good things (they do) but  whether they could do more or better with the public support they receive (they could).

In the most general terms, the ASPCA raises about $250 million annually and has nearly $300 million in its endowment. The organization has about 1,200 employees and counts compensation for these employees ($93 million) as its single largest expense.

The Form 990 (2018) submitted to the IRS reports the ASPCA raised $268 million in 2018, most of which ($243 million or 91%) came from contributions, gifts, and grants. Expenses totaled $241 million (including $5 million in depreciation) leaving $27 million added to the general fund that had a year-end balance of $283 million (note: the balance would have been higher but the ASPCA reported $17 million in net unrealized losses on investments in 2018).

Expenses can be viewed two ways:  by broad general category (i.e. grants, program services, management and general expenses, and fundraising) or by specific line item categories (i.e. compensation, office-related, travel and conferences, fees for services, grants, etc). Each is beneficial with the latter approach providing more detail on how revenue was spent.

Expenses By Broad General Category

The $241 million in expenses were categorized as follows:

  • $160 million (60% of revenue):  Program Services
  • $ 52 million (19% of revenue):  Fundraising
  • $ 13 million (5% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 13 million (5% of revenue):  Management and General Expenses

As illustrated above, program services uses 60% of revenue while fundraising, management, and general expenses used 24% of revenue. Grants – $13 million – were to domestic organizations. The ASPCA made 206 grants larger than $5,000, 181 to non-profit 501 (c) (3)’s and 25 to other organizations.

Most grants were to other animal organizations who provide spay/neuter services, live release services, equine services, relocation services, anti-cruelty campaigns. The 12 largest grant recipients were:

  • $1,354,000:  Animal Care and Control of NYC, Inc. of NY, NY for safety net/surrender prevention
  • $  760,000:  Emancipet of Austin, TX for spay/neuter
  • $  715,000:  Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation of LA, CA for return to owner (RTO)
  • $  550,000:  Dogs Playing for Life of Longmont, CO for live release
  • $  505,952:  NY Police Dept Grants Unit for NY, NY for anti-cruelty
  • $  348,700:  Fixnation of LA, CA for spay/neuter
  • $  298,500:  Washington Humane Society of Washington, DC for live release
  • $  260,000:  Miami-Dade County Animal Services of Doral, FL for anti-cruelty
  • $  250,000:  Wisconsin Humane Society of Milwaukee, WI for live release
  • $  200,000:  City of LA – Dept of Animal Services of LA, CA for live release
  • $  200,000:  St. Croix Animal Welfare Center of Kings Hill, Virgin Islands for safety net/surrender prevention
  • $  200,000:  Prevent Cruelty California of LA, CA for farm animals

Expenses by Specific Line Item Category

The $241 million in expenses were categorized as follows:

  • $ 93 million (35% of revenue): Compensation
  • $ 39 million (15% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion (does not include professional fundraiser’s fees)
  • $ 38 million (14% of revenue):  Office-related Expenses
  • $ 30 million (11% of revenue):  Fees for Services (non-employee)
  • $ 13 million (5% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 12 million (5% of revenue):  Veterinary and Medical Services/Operating Supplies
  • $  9 million (3% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $  6 million (2% of revenue):  Miscellaneous and Other Expenses

Compensation is the largest expense for the ASPCA with $93 million in compensation provided to 1,235 employees, making the average compensation $75,300.  The most highly compensated employee was the President and CEO, Mathew Bershadker who received $769,526.

Advertising and Promotion is the second largest expense at $39 million (and does not include fees paid to professional fundraisers) followed by $38 million in office-related expenses.  $30 million was spent on fees for services with 150 organizations receiving more than $100,000 in compensation.  The five largest recipients were reported to be:

  • $23 million:  Eagle-Com, Inc of Toronto, Canada for media broadcast
  • $ 9 million:  True North, Inc. of New York, NY for media placement
  • $ 7 million:  APPCO Group US Inc of New York, NY for street canvas/consulting
  • $ 6 million:  Forum Group Services, Inc. of New York, NY for staffing and consulting services
  • $ 4 million:  Facebook, Inc of Menlo Park, CA for media placement

The five companies above received a total of $49 million which means the fees for outside services may also be classified under other categories including advertising and promotion.

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 35:  Compensation

-$ 15:  Advertising and Promotion

-$ 14:  Office-Related Expenses

-$ 11:  Fees for Services

-$  3:  Travel and Conferences

-$  2:  Miscellaneous Expenses

-$ 80:  Subtotal: Compensation, Advertising, Office, Fees for Services, Travel and Misc

$ 20:  Revenue Remaining

-$  5:  Grants

-$  5:  Veterinary Services and Operating Supplies

-$ 10: Subtotal:  Grants and Veterinary Services and Operating Supplies

 $ 10:  Revenue Remaining:  To General Fund (endowment)

As illustrated above, $49 out of every $100 was used to compensate employees and pay office-related expenses.  An additional $26 was used to pay for advertising and promotion and fees for outside services.  $10 out of every $100 went towards grants and veterinary services and operating supplies.  The ASPCA spends more on advertising and promotion than on grants, veterinary services, and operating supplies. And, the ASPCA spent the same amount of revenue on grants/veterinary services and operating supplies as they put in the general fund (which already had more than $250 million).

A Note on Fundraisers

The ASPCA raises funds by mail, e-mail, internet, and phone solicitations. In addition, the organization also uses in-person solicitation, solicits for grants (non-gov’t and gov’t), and holds special fundraising events. The 6 highest paid fundraisers in 2018 were reported to be:

  • Donor Services Group of Los Angeles, CA used direct marketing to obtain $8.2 million for the ASPCA. They retained $1 million (12%) which netted the ASPCA $7.2 million.
  • APPCO Group Support of New York, NY used direct marketing to obtain $5.5 million for the ASPCA. They charged the ASPCA $7.5 million, costing the ASPCA $2 million.
  • SD&A Teleservices of Los Angeles, CA used direct marketing to obtain $2.5 million for the ASPCA. They charged the ASPCA $400,000, netting the ASPCA $2.1 million.
  • Dialogue Direct of New York, NY used direct marketing to obtain $2.2 million for the ASPCA. They charged the ASPCA $2.3 million, costing the ASPCA $100,000.
  • KnewSales Group of Toronto, Canada used direct marketing to obtain $1 million for the ASPCA. They charged the ASPCA $1.2 million, costing the ASPCA $200,000.
  • New Canvassing Experience used direct marketing to obtain $450,000 for the ASPCA. They charged the ASPCA $530,000, costing the ASPCA $80,000.

If you want your donation to go further, DO NOT respond to telemarketers. Give directly to the organization.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2018) for the ASPCA, click here.

  1. Barry Thompson
    Aug 30 2020

    And as you can see pretty much nothing goes to ANYONE or any group that’s not some how affiliated with this scam of an organization. I wish the government would make them break down by donor from whom the bulk of this money comes in. That would be quite eye opening from bv what I’ve read. The majority of it isnt from small donors. It comes from corporate with a monetary and politically driven interest.

  2. Robert Woods
    Aug 9 2020

    Certainly doesn’t look good -execs are ruining the cause with their greed!

  3. Jun 29 2020

    No, please re-read the post. The ASPCA did not pay out more than they raised. There are not significant losses.

    The point of the post is twofold: when funds come from telemarketers, some of the telemarketers (who are independent) are keeping more than they are giving to the ASPCA. However, the ASPCA did receive more than they paid fundraisers. Second, the ASPCA is spending more on advertising and promotion than on grants, veterinary services, and operating supplies. Overall, the ASPCA DID NOT spend more than they raised and in fact added unspent revenue to the general fund at year-end.

  4. Diane
    Jun 29 2020

    Looks like they are paying marketing/fundraising companies more than they received leaving significant losses.
    Some questions would be who is in charge of that area and are any involved associated with the companies that are causing these losses.
    The person handling that area is not doing a very good job or someone has association with that particular marketing fundraising companies. They should never pay out more than raised. Also, it seems the needs for the care of the animals in desperate needs are receiving very little and some vagueness in several areas receiving large amounts.

  5. Lara
    May 3 2020

    The money that goes to fundraising is a waste. How many times a night… During a single program… Do I need to see this ad begging for our money sad music playing as the woman’s voice calling is out for help for these precious animals? Any unnecessary phone calls, by people who can’t speak English well enough to be understood, no prejudice intended. Stop your television ads and Stop your damn mailings! My husband and I And my kids, continue to get at least two mailings EACH from the ASPCA every week. Numerous times I have asked your deceivingly hard-working please to stop wasting money on these mailings; however, they don’t. I was told to write “return to sender” on these mailings, but the post office does not accept this policy anymore. There are just a bunch of excuses provided in the statistics. It’s like I was told to write rreturn to sender on these mailings but the post office does not except this policy anymore and the mailings continue coming, money that could better be spent on the animals since I’m sure never going to donate to this organization again This is just a bunch of excuses provided in the statistics. It’s like everyone who has been following this post I said, donate vocally, and look up statistics on where the money goes before donating. Sure the ASPCA does help some animals, but it seems to help it’s employees and hates expenses a whole lot more. Have not even heard about the ASPCA doing anything good for years.

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