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Among the hundreds of letters, emails, and facebook messages I receive each week, there are always several from animal-lovers requesting my advice with regard to what organizations I would recommend they donate money to. Sometimes the writers are preparing their wills, other times the writers have questions as to whether the organizations they are currently donating to are really worthy of their hard-earned money.

As a rule, I never recommend specific organizations – it’s your money and the ultimate decision must be yours. I can, however, provide several guidelines to make the decision-making process easier.

      1. When considering making a donation to an animal shelter, I personally prefer ones with a “no kill” policy. These organizations do not euthanize their animals if not adopted within a specific time period. Such shelters only resort to euthanasia if the rescued animal is suffering due to a hopeless physical condition.
      2. Any shelter that you are considering should permit you to visit their premises. You should be able to see first-hand the facilities and care they are providing. If they refuse your request, remove them from your list of consideration.
      3. Request a copy of the organization’s current financial report. If they refuse to provide you with a break-down, consider another organization. Any organization worth its salt will have nothing to hide and will provide you with this information. Once you’ve received such a report, review it. How are their funds being utilized? Is the majority of their money going towards the actual care of the animals or to administrative costs (i.e. salaries and advertising)?
      4. If the tax deductibility of your contribution is important to you, the organization must be recognized by the IRS as a non-profit organization. Such organizations are required to file with the federal government. Ask them to provide you with proof of their non-profit status.
      5. Don’t let slick promotional brochures be your only criterion for selecting an organization. Many small “mom and pop” organizations simply do not have the time, money nor manpower to produce fancy brochures – they’re too busy using their limited resources for doing the actual rescue work and caring for the animals.

        In recognition of their needs, in 1995 I founded the Hugs & Kisses Animal Fund in memory of my late wife Fay who championed the work of small rescue and humane groups. The Fund is an all volunteer non profit organization; all donations are used to support the work of volunteer rescue groups.

        Because of the generosity of people who donate to the Fund year-round, we can reward the efforts of hundreds of unrecognized humane groups by approving their grant requests. In the face of economic calamity, a small check to these “humane heroes” who struggle daily is tremendous encouragement.

        To read “thank you” notes from various groups helped by the Hugs & Kisses Animal fund go to www.hugsandkissesanimalfund.org

        Apply the guidelines listed above and you may just find the organization worthy of your support!