Donations to animal rights groups on the rise

January 7, 2009 06:00 PM

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is a broad-based coalition of individual producers, producer organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, private industry and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the important role of animal agriculture.

There appeared to be an increase in well-funded animal rights activities directed at animal agriculture, according to the Animal Agriculture Alliance research.

In 2007, the latest reporting period available for review, charitable donations to animal rights groups rose 11% providing activist groups funds to develop activities such as California's Proposition 2, undercover video operations, legislative initiatives and legal actions. Donations to the extremist People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and its subsidiaries increased 11%.

The Alliance research used a variety of sources including independent examinations of some groups' Internal Revenue Service Form 990 which the IRS requires non-profits to file and the 2008 Animal People Watchdog Report on 150 Animal Charities--the newspaper Animal People's annual review of animal charity budgets.

"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,” says Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson Smith. "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.”

Donations to Humane Society for the United States (HSUS), the largest animal-rights activist group in the USA, remained about the same as last year when including subsidiary organizations the Fund for Animals and Doris Day Animal League (DDAL).

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

A significant increase in charitable donations to an animal rights group was to Acton, Calif.-based Animal Acres which increased donations by 443%. Animal Acres was founded by Lorrie Bauston, a co-founder of the East Coast animal rights group Farm Sanctuary. The Alliance says that for those who value animal agriculture, this group warrants watching.

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. Below is a comparison of 2007 and 2006 fundraising for some of the most notable activist groups' funding.


2007 ($millions)

2006 ($millions)


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




Massachusetts SPCA




World Society for the Protection of Animals




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




Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and subsidiaries*




Farm Sanctuary




Compassion in World Farming




Friends of Animals (FoA)




Animal Legal Defense Fund




Humane Farming Association




Animal Acres




* Includes Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), 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 was up in the low double-digits, total assets expanded 31%, due to conservative spending by the groups. Animal-rights behemoth HSUS had assets increase about 5%, slightly less than the S&P 500 gain of 6% for the year. However the group still retains enough assets to fund itself for over 2 years and 4 months at its 2007 budget level.
For more information on activist group funding, asset changes and salary information for key staff, please visit the password-protected Members section of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Web site at

For questions or comments, e-mail the editor at Beef Today.

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