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April 21, 2022

Where Does $100 to the ASPCA Go (2020)?

by Anne Paddock

If you donated $100 to the ASPCA in 2020 and want to know how your donation was spent, know that nearly half ($48) went to pay staff, office-related expenses, travel and conferences.  $25 went to pay advertising and promotion and fees for outside services, including professional fundraisers. $8 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 $17 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 $300 million annually and has more than $400 million in its general fund. The organization has about 1,200 employees and counts compensation for these employees ($104 million) as its single largest expense.

The Form 990 (2020) submitted to the IRS reports the ASPCA raised $325 million in 2020 (compared to $279 million in 2019 and $268 million in 2018), most of which ($287 million or 89%) came from contributions, gifts, and grants.

Expenses totaled $268 million (including $6 million in depreciation) leaving $57 million added to the general fund that had a year-end balance of $407 million (compared to $340 million in 2019)  (note: the organization reported $8 million in net unrealized gains on investments in 2020 which contributed to the increase in the general fund).

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 $268 million in expenses were categorized as follows:

  • $185 million (57% of revenue):  Program Services
  • $ 55  million (17% of revenue):  Fundraising
  • $ 15  million (5% of revenue):  Management and General Expenses
  • $ 13  million (4% of revenue):  Grants

As illustrated above, program services used 57% of revenue while fundraising, management, and general expenses used 22% of revenue. Grants – $13 million – were to domestic animal welfare organizations. Grants accounted for 4 of revenue.  The ASPCA made 210 grants larger than $5,000, 207 to non-profit 501 (c) (3)’s and 3 to other organizations. In total, the ASPCA spent $83 out of every $100 on expenses with the remaining 17% allocated to the general fund.

Most grants were to other animal organizations who provide spay/neuter services, live release services, equine services, relocation services, anti-cruelty campaigns. The 8 largest grant recipients were:

  • $1,280,000:  Animal Care Center of NYC
  • $  650,000:  NYC Police Department
  • $  500,000:  Oregon Humane Society
  • $  300,000:  Food Bank of NYC
  • $  250,000:  Dogs Playing for Life (Colorado)
  • $  200,000:  LA Regional Food Bank
  • $  200,000:  Fixnation, Inc. (California)
  • $  165,300:  LA County Animal Care

Expenses by Specific Line Item Category

The $268 million in expenses (83% of revenue) were categorized as follows:

  • $104 million (32% of revenue): Compensation
  • $ 64 million (20% of revenue):  Advertising/Promotion (does not include fundraiser fees)
  • $ 49 million (15% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 16 million (5% of revenue):  Fees for Services (non-employee)
  • $ 13 million (4% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 12 million (4% of revenue):  Veterinary and Medical Services/Operating Supplies
  • $  4  million (1% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $  6 million (2% of revenue):  Miscellaneous and Other Expenses

Compensation is the largest expense for the ASPCA with $104 million in compensation provided to 1,252 employees, making the average compensation $83,000.  The most highly compensated employee was the President and CEO, Mathew Bershadker who received $966,004.

Advertising and Promotion is the second largest expense at $64 million (and does not include fees paid to professional fundraisers) followed by $49 million in office-related expenses.  $16 million was spent on fees for services with 116 organizations receiving more than $100,000 in compensation.  The five largest recipients were reported to be:

  • $40 million:  Eagle-Com, Inc, of Toronto, Canada for media broadcast
  • $ 9 million:  Laughlin Constable, Inc, of Milwaukee, WI for digital media
  • $ 7 million:  Edge Direct, of Baltimore, MD for “donor engagement”
  • $ 6 million:  Google, Inc., of Mountain View, CA for direct marketing
  • $ 4 million:  Patton Kiehl, of Woodford, VA for “donor engagement”

As illustrated above, the ASPCA spent $66 million on advertising and fundraising with just the 5 most highly compensated independent organizations.

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

$100:  Revenue

-$ 32:  Compensation

-$ 20:  Advertising and Promotion

-$ 15:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  5:  Fees for Services

-$  1:  Travel and Conferences

-$  2:  Miscellaneous Expenses

-$ 75:  Subtotal: Compensation, Advertising, Office, Fees for Services, Travel and Misc

 $ 25:  Revenue Remaining

-$  4:  Grants

-$  4:  Veterinary Services and Operating Supplies

-$  8: Subtotal:  Grants and Veterinary Services and Operating Supplies

 $ 17:  Revenue Remaining:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, $40 out of every $100 was used to compensate employees and pay office-related expenses.  An additional $25 was used to pay for advertising and promotion and fees for outside services.  $8 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 less on grants/veterinary services and operating supplies then they put ($57 million in 2020) in the general fund (which already had more than $340 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 5 highest paid fundraisers in 2020 were reported to be:

  • SD&A Teleservices raised $1.7 million, retained $1.3 million, netting the ASPCA $400,000
  • Ascenta Group raised $1.3 million, was paid $3.1 million, netting the ASPCA -$1.8 million
  • New Canvassing Experience raised $400,000, was paid $700,000, netting the ASPCA -$400,000
  • Donor Services Group raised $250,000, retained $150,000, netting the ASPCA $100,000
  • Knewsales Group, Inc. raised $75,000, was paid $150,000, netting the ASPCA -$75,000

If you want your donation to go further, DO NOT respond to telemarketers; give directly to an organization.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2020) for the ASPCA, click here.

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