let's talk farm animals

Donate wisely, donate locally

Part one of a three part series on animal cause fundraising in Canada

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

I’m probably fairly typical when it comes to receiving donation requests. On average, I estimate I receive one unsolicited request a day to give money. That’s not counting advertised fundraising and awareness campaigns both on-line and in the real world. Nor the word-of-mouth requests from friends and family to support their preferred charities.

I may be a little atypical though, when it comes to choosing who does and does not get my donation. I check them out.

In our world of hucksters and frauds, we are all cautioned to know who we are giving to and for what. I trust some organizations over others. For instance, the Make-a-Wish Foundation has my trust (and my support) while political parties do not. And knowing how my donation is used is a big part of that trust.

“Cause groups” are highly trusted by the donating public. And topping that list are animal causes.

Fundraiser gifts are a common way to generate donations

Stats show that donations for animal causes is second only to health-related donations. Even in a weak economy, animal protection has been the only charity category in recent years to see their donation base grow.

I attribute that to several factors:

Marketing 101: The more exposure, the more money. Health-related groups are super-active in their fundraising activities but animal organizations even more so. From the “guilt gifts” included with their fundraising appeals to the inflated claims, animal groups are masters at getting us to part with our money.

The emotion factor: My step-mother gives to a multi-national animal activist group because of the “sad” photos included in their fundraising materials. What she refuses to believe is that her money to this particular outfit will line a lot of foreign pockets and do little for the animals she is intending to help.  And it isn’t just the fundraisers that land in our mail boxes. Social and traditional media is being effectively used to reinforce these emotional appeals.

Lack of transparency and deception: Plenty of causes use deception in fundraising. But animal causes use it more effectively than some others. While registered charities are required to submit their annual information for public disclosure to Revenue Canada’s Charity section, the information is limited and difficult to decipher.   Most people aren’t aware, for example, that registered charities are allowed to report their fundraising costs as program expenditures. With over 80,000 registered charities in Canada, Revenue Canada tends to rely on complaints to investigate charities and their activities.

Non-profit groups don’t have to publicly report at all (although some do). So even their supporters are not informed of exactly how their money is used. And some organizations use names that imply they are legitimate and regulated humane societies and shelters when they are nothing more than private groups with hidden agendas.

U.S. surveys show that people donate to national and multi-national animal cause groups thinking their money will go to local efforts to protect and rescue pets, such as shelters.  These same surveys show that donators are shocked to learn their money is often being used for other purposes instead, be it fundraising, political lobbying or other activities they may not support.

At the end of the day, most donors regardless of the cause, need to be better informed before signing that cheque. But because it is so difficult to get informed I have always advocated supporting our local humane societies instead of the flashy and well-marketed “animal big guys”. After-all it is these folks who are on the front-lines, who need the money, and who are getting the job done. And the results (or lack of them) can be witnessed firsthand in each of our communities.

Until the Next Blog


Posted by FFC on June 25th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Canada,Misconceptions
Tags :: , , , ,

When environmentalism and science face off

By Lisa McLean, Agricultural writer

Destruction of GMO crops (also called genetically modified organisms) is a common form of protest, particularly in the EU where public acceptance of biotechnology is low. Activists dress in their best white garb and face masks to make the most of a photo opportunity while they wade into fields and haul out healthy plants by their roots.


Posted by FFC on May 14th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Crops,Environment,Innovation and technology,Research
Tags :: , , ,

When rodents get political

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and food commentator

Mice may be cute but they are also the subject of political debate. According to RadioNetherlands, mice have moved into the Dutch parliament building during the winter recess. The debate began when the Animal Rights Party informed the press and the leader of the lower house that the party would be “removing all the mousetraps in their part of the building and replacing them with mouse-friendly traps.”

This became front-page news and editors came up with some truly awful puns as they covered the rodent drama. Things took a new twist when a regional TV station discovered that the mouse-friendly traps weren’t friendly at all: “the mice start squeaking and create panic throughout the rest of the mouse family,” the station reported.  Presumably these “humanely” trapped rodents are being relocated or adopted by the Animal Rights Party. Meanwhile, some MPs have recommended getting a house cat to solve the pest problem.


Posted by FFC on February 28th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Animal cruelty,Regulations,Wildlife
Tags :: , ,

The Power of Words

Guest Blog by: Sarah Hubbart, Communications Director, Animal Agriculture Alliance

Last week, I came across interesting new research on effective communication strategy that was conducted on behalf of the Humane Research Council (HRC), VegFund, and the Farm Animal Rights Movement, three organizations that work to promote a vegan diet.


Posted by FFC on February 20th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Education and public awareness,Research,Speaking out,Vegan
Tags :: , , ,

Animal rights vs. religious freedoms

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and Food commentator

In December a plan for an outright ban on ritual slaughter methods in the Netherlands failed to pass the Dutch Senate. The bill and the issues surrounding it garnered world-wide attention by Jewish and Islamic communities, the meat processing and retail sectors, and animal activists. Government diplomats also became involved.


Posted by FFC on February 13th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,animal handling,Food,Meat/slaughter plants,Regulations
Tags :: , , , ,

Animal activism: Like a charging cow

Guest blog: Adele Buettner, Farm Animal Council Saskatchewan

Most reasonable North Americans have always opposed animal cruelty. But if you had said “welfare” to ranchers and farmers 30 years ago most would have thought you meant a government cheque.  If you had spoken about farm animal care to most retailers, you would have been met with a blank stare.


Posted by FFC on January 23rd, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Vegan,Vegetarian
Tags :: , ,

Why expertise does not trump politics

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

There’s lots of talk on the need for science-based policy decisions by politicians at all levels of government.  No more so than at the municipal level.  The City of Toronto is a prime example of local politicians over-riding both science and experience in making decisions about animals.


Posted by FFC on November 28th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Animal care,Regulations
Tags :: , ,

There is no reasoning with the unreasonable

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

One of the great things about our country is the freedom to express and defend our personal opinions.  We have more venues to do so than ever before.  Not so long ago I was pulled into an on-line discussion on food animal production. The discussion was prompted by a CBC radio commentary on egg production but quickly moved into animal farming and food practices in general and the need to eat animal products in the first place. Illustrating how agriculture crosses into so many issues.


Posted by FFC on October 24th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Housing,Misconceptions,Speaking out,Vegetarian
Tags :: , , ,

The Myth of Meatless Mondays - Alleviating the consumer’s conscience without affecting climate change

The following is reprinted with permission from the Animal Agriculture Alliance in the United States (www.animalalliance.org). For its full collection of Meatless Monday resources, visit  http://animalagalliance.org/current/home.cfm?Section=Meatless_Monday&Category=Current_Issues.

The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the Consumer’s Conscience Without Affecting Climate Change
Judith L. Capper, PhD, Washington State University

In July, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report claiming that everybody should eat less meatand dairy products in order to mitigate climate change. It was an interesting report, not least because it recommended that if consumers were going to eat meat, they should choose “meat, eggs and dairy products that are certified organic, humane and/or grass-fed as they are generally the least environmentally damaging”. Working within the sustainability arena, I firmly believe that any production system has a role within agriculture provided that it is environmentally conscientious, economically viable and socially acceptable. However, the EWG’s promotion of organic or grass-fed systems as having a low environmental impact is ironic given that such systems actually have a greater carbon footprint per unit of meat or milk produced compared to their conventional counterparts.


Posted by FFC on October 6th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Beef cattle,Feeding the world,Global Warming,Meatless Monday,Misconceptions,Organics,Sheep,Vegetarian
Tags :: , , , , , , , , ,

Guest blog: Ballot measures scuttled

Dan Murphy  

(Dan Murphy is a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator in the United States)

Updated: July 11, 2021 -  Both sides are carefully calling the agreement between the nation’s egg producers and HSUS leadership a “victory.” For industry, that means that two ballot measures set for November that would have asked Oregon and Washington voters to ban the use of cages in egg production will now be withdrawn.

Why? Mostly because the odds of victory were looking less certain for HSUS.


Posted by FFC on July 13th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Animal care,Chickens,eggs,HSUS,Regulations,Uncategorized
Tags :: , , , , , ,