Tuesday, September 5

Humane Society Merger

Without much fanfare, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced over the Labor Day Weekend that it was "merging" with the Doris Day Animal Protection League.

The official press release highlights how presidents Doris Day and Wayne Pacelle plan to combine their resources for a common mission:

Day and Pacelle met recently at Day’s home in Carmel, Calif., and discussed plans for the possible combination of operations. “Our visions are in lock step now,” Pacelle said. “We both want to strengthen the capacity of the humane movement, and we recognize that we can achieve that by combining our operations, in order to eliminate duplicative programs and to create a more powerful force for animal protection.”
For the past three years, Doris Day Animal Protection League had consistent annual expenses between $2.7 and $2.9 million. After static revenues in 2003 and 2004, Doris Day's most recent 2005 IRS Form 990 shows almost $3.5 million in annual revenue.

The HSUS has doubled its annual budget from $42 million in 1996 to $103 million in 2006. Its staff has grown 60% since 2000. The combination follows the group's merger with the Fund for Animals in 2005 and the group’s recent hiring of former United Animal Nations president Jennifer Fearing and Compassion Over Killing leaders Miyun Park and Paul Shapiro.

So, what are the implications of this merger to the fundraising world? Fundraisers have already debated mergers in the list rental business, however the fall-out of combining two national fundraising programs is not clear. Could this be the future of nonprofit consolidation that the Foundation Center's Philanthropy News Digest predicted would happen?

Doris Day had a mailing list on the market of 84,000 names - surely that will be taken off the market. As the fundraising programs are combined, there will be one less national mailer in mailboxes. One possible advantage as HSUS acquires more 501(c)4 legislative lobbying groups is their ability to send mail to political activist donors. Are they making a move at PETA's donors? Is HSUS going to continue acquiring smaller organizations, and if so, what will be the impact on donors to the animal welfare movement?

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