April 13th, 2009 by admin
Last weekend, ARFF held demonstrations against the Shrine Circus in Palm Beach Gardens. During one of our protests on Saturday, a women driving in to the circus slowed her car to tell us that she agreed that the circus is bad for animals, but she was concerned that hospitals may close.
She was referring to recent news stories about financial problems at the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Income from a large endowment pays the bills at Shriners Hospitals, but in these tough economic times the hospitals endowment has shrunk and several hospitals may have to close. That’s bad news for the many families that depend on the hospitals for health care. But supporting the circus is a horribly ineffective way to help the hospitals.
Fact: The Shrine Circus does NOT support Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The small print on circus tickets and most circus advertisements make it clear that tickets are not charitable donations.
But don’t the Shriners help children in other ways? After all, the image of a child using crutches is synonymous with the men in the red fez hats.
Well, yes and no.
If you want to help your local Shrine temple cover its rent and utilities, and buy food and drink for their next social event– and if you aren’t bothered by the abuse and exploitation of elephants and other animals– then maybe the Shrine circus is for you. On the other hand, if you care about animals, and you want to help children, we recommend you skip the circus.
Charity watchdog groups, such as the Better Business Bureau, rate charities poorly if less than 65% of total expenses are spent on activities to carry out the organization’s mission. These charities are considered inefficient. According to financial statements filed with the IRS for 2006 (the most recent year from which records are available), Palm Beach Garden’s Amara Shrine reported $391,525 in expenses but only $138,952 of that was spent on “program services,” a pitiful 35%. And it gets worse if you look closer at the numbers. In 2006, the temple’s total revenue was $554,241. In that year, they reported donating $33,898 to Shriners Hospitals and spending $69,567 driving patients to a hospital. So for every dollar the temple brought in during 2006, only 19 cents actually was spent to benefit children.
The picture isn’t any better at Orlando’s Bahia Temple, which hosts a circus later this month. On their tax return for 2007, the Bahia Shriners claim, “The purpose of the organization is to transport crippled children.” But in 2007 they spent more on salaries than they did transporting children to hospitals. Instead, one of their largest expenses– $254,211– was for “members welfare.” The temple doesn’t report that a single penny was sent to Shriners Hospitals.
The best way to help the Shriners Hospitals for Children is to make a donation directly to the hospital (click here). 90 percent of all money spent by Shriners Hospitals each year is dedicated to patient care.
Join us to protest the Shrine Circus in Orlando, April 25-26. Visit ARFF’s website for details.
*FYI. 92% of ARFF’s total expenses are spent on program activities.