As the move into a new year continues, the picture on animal rights funding also becomes clearer. In 2007, the latest reporting period available for review, charitable donations to animal rights groups rose 11 percent. This provided activist groups with more funds to develop wide-ranging activities such as California ’s Proposition 2, undercover video operations, legislative initiatives and legal actions, according to the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Specifically, donations to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and its subsidiaries increased 11 percent.

The Alliance conducted research using a variety of sources, including independent examinations of some groups' Internal Revenue Service Form 990 which the IRS requires non-profits to file. Other sources included the 2008 Animal People Watchdog Report on 150 Animal Charities, and the newspaper Animal People’s annual review of animal charity budgets. Donations to Humane Society for the United States, the largest U.S. animal-rights activist group remained nearly unchanged when including subsidiary organizations the Fund for Animals and Doris Day Animal League.

On the international front, the World Society for Protection of Animals, a relatively moderate animal rights group, increased its donations by 80 percent, displacing PETA as the third largest activist group targeting modern animal agriculture. However, in terms of assets PETA and FSAP combined still can claim to be the third largest animal rights groups with assets of $34.5 million. Additionally, UK-based Compassion in World Farming raised revenues 60 percent.

Alliance officials point out that a significant increase in charitable donations to an animal rights group was to Acton, Calif.-based Animal Acres which increased donations by 443 percent. Animal Acres was founded by Lorrie Bauston, a co-founder of the East Coast animal rights group Farm Sanctuary. "For all who value animal agriculture, this group warrants watching," emphasizes Alliance officials.

Total donations to the most significant domestic and international animal-rights groups reached nearly $330 million in 2007. "This level of funding will only improve the ability of animal rights groups worldwide to continue their multi-dimensional efforts attacking animal agriculture and other animal-use businesses," says Alliance officials.

Here's a look at 2007 and 2006 fundraising levels for some of the more notable animal activist groups:

Given/Earned

2007 ($millions)

2006 ($millions)

Change

Humane Society of the United States/Fund for Animals/DDAL

130.0

130.2

0%

Massachusetts SPCA

47.9

46.9

2%

World Society for the Protection of Animals

33.5

18.6

80%

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)/Foundation to Support Animal Protection (FSAP)

28.9

26.0

11%

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and subsidiaries*

7.5

7.0

7%

Farm Sanctuary

5.1

4.5

14%

Compassion in World Farming

4.9

3.0

60%

Friends of Animals (FoA)

4.7

5.6

-16%

Animal Legal Defense Fund

3.5

3.8

-8%

Humane Farming Association

2.4

2.1

16%

Animal Acres

1.5

0.3

443%

*-Includes Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the PCRM Foundation, the Cancer Project and the Washington Center for Clinical Research.

Though revenue for groups with animal-rights and anti-animal agriculture programs showed growth in the low double-digits, total assets expanded 31 percent, due to the groups' conservative spending, notes the Alliance. "Animal-rights behemoth HSUS had assets increased about 5 percent, slightly less than the S&P 500 gain of 6 percent for the year," notes Alliance officials. However the group still retains enough assets to fund itself for 2 years and 4 months at its 2007 budget level.

“Much of this increased funding is attributed to donors who are not fully aware of the anti-animal use campaigns of many of these groups,” notes Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance executive vice president. “It’s unfortunate many portray themselves as mainstream and working to improve animal care, yet their funding is primarily spent on campaigns to ban or restrict essential uses of animals such as being raised for food or for research to find cures for diseases.  Even worse, many of their campaigns demand changes that are actually harmful to animals’ overall health and well-being.”

The Alliance encourages all potential donors to thoroughly evaluate the true goals and campaigns of all animal rights groups before making a contribution. "American farmers and ranchers work hard every day to provide consumers with wholesome products from humanely raised animals," say Alliance officials. "Be sure your tax-deductible contributions are not going to groups working to eliminate your right to choose those products."

For full information on activist groups' funding, asset changes and salary information for key staff, click here.

Source: Animal Agriculture Alliance