In response to my blog of December 26, 2009, titled "Make a Difference for the Animals," several comments were posted decrying the "waste of money" incurred in the cost of television commercials such as the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA Commercial.
Although my opinion differed, since I can't speak directly for the ASPCA, I posted the question directly to that organization. My email was forwarded to no less than the Senior Vice President, Development, Todd Hendricks. This is his reply:
The ASPCA measures our success by the number of animals we are able to help and by how efficient we are at raising the money that allows us to help those animals. The ASPCA has seen significant growth in revenue and program spending since the launch of the Sarah McLachlan campaign in 2003. Our fundraising revenues have more than doubled while our fundraising ratio has remained constant at $0.20 to raise $1.00. What this in essence means is that our program expenditures to help animals have more than doubled as well. In 2003 the ASPCA dedicated over $33,000,000 directly to caring for animals - in 2008 we spent over $74,000,000 helping animals. Again, this was done without raising our fundraising ratios.I can't speak for my readers, either, but these are my thoughts: I donate $20/month to the ASPCA as a direct result of that commercial. That means that $4.00 each month goes toward ASPCA's advertising expenses and $16.00 goes toward helping animals. As a long-time advocate, I am certainly aware of the universal need for helping shelter animals. However, what about the tens of thousands of other people who are not Web-wise, and depend on television and print media to stay informed? I consider my $4.00 a month to be a very useful way to help the ASPCA spread the word to those people. The Sarah MacLachlan commercial is so compelling that even a jaded old veteran such as myself is driven to contribute. Think then, of what it can do as an eye-opener to new converts? My four bucks a month can increase exponentially the direct benefits to the cats, dogs, and other animals we all love and care about.
Having said all that, I will always encourage my readers to help support your own local shelters and cat rescue groups, with donations of cash and goods, or volunteer work. We can all make a difference for the animals, each in our own way, both universally and locally.