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When Charities Are Charitable

Though more accustomed to soliciting money than giving it away, shelters last fall showed unprecedented generosity by donating to organizations in the disaster zone as well as to The HSUS’s reconstruction funds

Though more accustomed to soliciting money than giving it away, shelters last fall showed unprecedented generosity by donating to organizations in the disaster zone as well as to The HSUS’s reconstruction funds

Given their location on the west coast of Florida, the SPCA Tampa Bay is no stranger to hurricanes—and constituents are always ready to lend a hand when disaster strikes the region. But last fall, as the local community turned its attention toward Gulf Coast neighbors in need, shelter staff repeatedly fielded the same question, says executive director Beth Lockwood: “What organization should I give money to, to make sure that it will go directly to the animal disaster victims?”

The SPCA decided to make it easy, says Lockwood, by setting up a restricted Katrina fund: “We told people … ‘If you want to donate money to care for the animals that we take care of, you can designate that. If you want to donate money to another shelter, we’re going to select two, and the money will go directly to them to rebuild.’ ”

The community liked the idea, and their response showed it. Within a few months, the SPCA had collected $90,000 for the Louisiana SPCA and the Humane Society of South Mississippi, as well as additional funds to care for the 200 or so hurricane animals that the SPCA Tampa Bay fostered. “We were just shocked and pleased,” says Lockwood.

A group of volunteers working with the Florida shelter added an extra $10,000 for the Louisiana SPCA by holding a “Mardi Gras” event. And aside from the request of one donor, who asked that $5,000 be restricted to animal care, the use of all the funds collected by the SPCA Tampa Bay was left to the two affected shelters to determine.

The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA also chose to contribute to the Louisiana SPCA and the Humane Society of South Mississippi—to the tune of $40,000 each. “What they would like to use the money for is training for their staff … and not just to train them in the obvious,” says Mark Goldstein, president of the California organization. “Not just veterinary care, disease, husbandry, behavioral temperament testing, but also a class on dealing with stress and compassion fatigue … so they know how to feel good about their work.”

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona gave $83,000 to the Louisiana SPCA—the LA/SPCA’s largest single donation from a shelter—just by adding a link to its website.

Some shelters donated directly to national organizations that are helping the region rebuild. The Hawaiian Humane Society sent The HSUS a check for more than $40,000, earmarked for the rebuilding of the Louisiana SPCA. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Virginia, gave The HSUS $5,000 specifically for Gulf Coast animal shelter reconstruction.

Generous donations like these have helped The HSUS award or commit over $7 million in reconstruction grants to organizations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida. This includes a $4.5 million grant-and-aid package to the Louisiana SPCA and a $665,000 grant to the Humane Society of South Mississippi.

For more information on HSUS disaster expenditures, visit The HSUS's online Disaster Center.

 

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