Animal-related charities serve a far more vulnerable constituency than any other charity and, therefore should be expected to observe ethical standards beyond mere obedience to laws. Laws set the foundation for ethical conduct, but much that remains legal is nonetheless neither ethical nor moral.
The following standards define what PACS believes to be ethical and moral conduct by animal-related charities and fundraisers. To be considered ethical by PACS, a charity or fundraiser must actively strive to meet them.
Minimal Standards for animal-related charities
- The activities of an animal protection charity should verifiably endeavor to help animals, committing the overwhelming volume of resources raised to animal protection work rather than to fundraising, administration, and the maintenance of reserve funds.
- Animal related charities should be formed and operated for the benefit of animals; it should be all about their mission to help animals and not about benefiting themselves and their organizations.
- Charities should not “stockpile your money”. Public charities that solicit donations should not operate like private foundations that typically spend only a small portion of asset reserves, usually 5% of their investment portfolio. Annual giving is a fixed pie; there are not enough charitable dollars to go around for groups to stockpile massive reserves and still continue to fundraise for more dollars. They are limiting the supply of money available to other charities that need it so they don’t have to turn away those in immediate need. Certainly, it is reasonable for some charities to maintain reserves, but to hold available reserves of five years worth of their budget is, in the opinion of Paws and Claws Society, excessive.
- Charities should not enter into costly arrangements with for-profit fundraising operations. A number of charities return most of the money raised to professional fundraisers, sometimes using over 80% of the money raised to pay for fundraising expenses. It’s a shame that such groups dishonor their mission and turn their backs on desperate animals in need. Some organizations and individuals even go so far as to deceive the public in order to raise money. Others will try to disguise the fact that they are doing little or no charitable work while operating aggressive fundraising campaigns.
- All fundraising and program literature distributed by an ethical animal protection organization should be truthful, accurate, and up-to-date, and should be amended or withdrawn, as is appropriate, when circumstances change or new information emerges.
- Animal care charities should go beyond meeting the minimal animal care standards enforced by government agencies and should endeavor to meet or exceed “best practice” standards. An ethical animal protection charity should behave in a manner which takes into consideration the welfare of all animals, not only those under the direct auspices of its charitable programs. Just as it would be unethical for a human welfare charity to sacrifice the well-being of some people in order to benefit a chosen few, so it is inherently unethical to cause some animals to suffer on behalf of other animals.
- The charitable activities of an animal protection charity should be clearly visible to donors, news media, and the public. This includes filling out IRS Form 990 fully and accurately, and filing it in a timely manner.
- Paws and Claws Society is firmly opposed to excessive or unreasonable compensation paid to Trustees, Directors or Staff by animal protection charities. Founders and others motivated enough by the charitable mission to work for no wages are relatively unlikely to steal or otherwise seek excessive benefits from the organizations they serve.
Since incorporating in 1993, the Founder and Trustees of Paws and Claws Society have worked tirelessly on behalf of animals for the love of their mission and absolutely no wages or benefits.