Photo Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images
If you’re anything like us, the second you see a sad-eyed puppy with a hard luck story on TV, you’re pulling out your credit card, ready to help. But with so many animal nonprofits asking for money, it pays to do a little homework before deciding where to donate. We rounded up 10 excellent animal charities that have earned high marks from the Better Business Bureau and Great Nonprofits -- and will make the most out of every dollar you give.
Greyhound Adoption League of Texas
Greyhound Adoption League of Texas (GALT) is an all-volunteer nonprofit that’s been operating throughout Texas and the United States since 2001. As of June 2013, it’s helped find permanent homes for more than 2,250 greyhounds, many of them retired racing dogs. Funded solely through donations, GALT spends 98 percent of its budget serving the needs of the dogs in its possession. In 2013, the nonprofit embarked on another mission, Hounds Helping Heroes Heal, which provides soldiers with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries with trained companion greyhounds and other breeds and mixes from north Texas animal shelters.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 91%, Fund-raising: 7%, Administrative: 2%
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Founded in 1866 as the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere, the ASPCA rescues animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with many shelters across the country. When needed, it places animals displaced by disaster into partner shelters for rehab and adoption. Plus, it operates helpful programs like its Adoption Center, Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic and an Animal Poison Control Center.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 74% Fund Raising: 22% Administrative: 4%
Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation
"People rescuing animals...Animals rescuing people" -- that's ARF's mission statement in a nutshell. ARF's rescue patrol visits public shelters weekly, saving dogs and cats that are scheduled to be killed and bringing them to its facility. They then provide these homeless animals with medical care, spay/neuter surgeries, and permanent homes. ARF's programs strengthen the human-animal bond for the elderly, residents of assisted living centers and children. Through its guardian program, ARF helps people make plans for their pets in the event they are no longer able to take care of them.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 91%, Fund-raising: 5%, Administrative: 4%
DU supports the annual life cycle needs of North American waterfowl by protecting, enhancing, restoring, and managing wetlands and associated uplands. Some 900 species of wildlife, many threatened and endangered, live and flourish on DU projects. Since its founding in 1937, the nonprofit has contributed to the conservation of an astounding 12 million-plus acres of prime wildlife habitat in all 50 states, each of the Canadian provinces, and Mexico.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 86%, Fund-raising: 12%, Administrative: 2%
National Audubon Society
Speaking of feathered friends, the National Audubon Society conserves and restores natural ecosystems of birds, other wildlife and their habitats through science, education and policy expertise. With nearly 500 local chapters, they engage members in grassroots conservation action, collecting vital data that guide scientists and policy makers in addressing the needs of birds and other wildlife. Among their successes: protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ongoing recovery of the imperiled California condor and brown pelican, continued restoration of the Everglades and Long Island Sound, and adoption of innovative policies that balance habitat protection with green energy development on millions of acres.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 84%, Fund-raising: 11%, Administrative: 5%
National Disaster Search Dog Foundation
The Search Dog Foundation recruits rescued dogs and partners them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The teams are provided at no cost to fire departments and other emergency service agencies throughout the country. Search Dog Foundation also ensures lifetime care for every dog in its program. Win win.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 81%, Fund-raising: 12%, Administration: 7%
National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation is committed to helping wildlife survive the challenges of climate change and habitat loss. The group promotes conservation policy and legislation, while its educational programs and publications reach a whopping 1 million school children and 2 million young readers each year, respectively.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 79%, Fund-raising: 12%, Administrative: 9%
Ocean Conservancy fights every day to keep the ocean healthy for everyone whose lives and livelihoods depend on it--from sea turtles to polar bears, whales to people. How? By supporting sustainable U.S. fisheries; facilitating the International Coastal Cleanup which, in 2013 alone removed 10 million pounds of trash from shorelines; working to restore the Gulf of Mexico; and conducting fishery conservation work along the California coast with a network of marine-protected areas.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 76%, Fund-raising: 13%, Administrative: 11%
Primate Rescue Center
The mission of the Primate Rescue Center is simple: to alleviate the suffering of primates wherever it occurs. The group will provide sanctuary or referral to appropriate facilities; work to end the trade in pet primates in the U.S. and abroad; educate the public about the plight of primates caught in the breeder/dealer cycle; help researchers and zoo personnel find appropriate placement for their surplus primates; and encourage compliance with local, state and federal laws and animal welfare statutes.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 87%, Fund-raising: 4%, Administrative: 9%
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Since 1954, Guiding Eyes has provided at no charge more than 7,000 trained guide dogs to blind and visually impaired individuals. Guiding Eyes also trains and provides Heeling Autism dogs to children with autism.
Where your dollar goes: Programs: 79%, Fund-raising: 16%, Administrative: 5%