Burbank Animal Shelter Booster has $1.3 Million in Donations Sitting Idle Yet the Shelter Continues to Ask the Public for Support

(April 5, 2024 update: after multiple outreaches to the City of Burbank Parks and Recreation Department and to the organizers of the Paws for Cause fundraiser at Leadership Burbank, no one responded to requests for an interview)

In the heart of Burbank, California, a growing concern has emerged over the financial practices of a prominent animal welfare organization and its associated fundraising efforts. At the core of this issue is the discovery that substantial funds, earmarked for the welfare of shelter animals, are lying dormant in bank accounts, even as calls for public donations continue unabated.

A local, who has been closely associated with the community’s philanthropic efforts for decades, recently brought this issue to light after a detailed review of publicly available financial documents. These documents, specifically the IRS 990 forms filed by the shelter’s supporting group, revealed that an amount nearing $1.3 million, intended to aid shelter operations and animal welfare, has not been utilized.

The shelter is taxpayer-funded with an annual budget of $2,347,788.00.

The shelter has a booster group, Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter, that received $296,020.00 in public donations in 2022 but has a surplus of nearly $1.3 million.

This revelation prompts a critical examination of the fundraising practices and financial strategies employed by the shelter and its booster group. It raises significant questions about the necessity and ethical implications of soliciting additional donations from the public when a considerable amount of previously donated funds remains unused.

The discovery casts a shadow of doubt over the messaging used by these organizations in their fundraising campaigns. Potential donors are led to believe that their contributions are crucial for the immediate care and support of the shelter’s animals. However, the existence of a large, unspent reserve challenges this narrative and begs the question: why is there a continued push for more donations?

Moreover, this situation brings into question the financial management and decision-making processes within the organization. The rationale behind maintaining such a sizeable reserve, seemingly at odds with the organization’s stated urgent needs, remains unclear. It is imperative to understand the strategic considerations that guide these financial decisions, including any long-term planning or contingencies that may justify the accumulation of funds.

The broader implications of this situation extend beyond just the concerned organization and its donors. It touches upon the fundamental trust that underpins the relationship between nonprofit organizations and their supporters. Transparency and accountability are essential in maintaining this trust, especially when the use of donated funds is concerned.

The case also underscores the importance of due diligence by potential donors. It serves as a reminder that, in an era where information is readily accessible, donors have the tools at their disposal to scrutinize and question the financial practices of charitable organizations before making contributions.

The discovery was made possible by the site GuideStar (HTTP://www.guidestar.org)

As this story unfolds, the call for a comprehensive explanation from the shelter and its associated fundraising group grows louder. The community seeks assurances that their generosity is being channeled effectively towards the intended cause, and not simply adding to a growing stockpile of unused funds. The response from these organizations will not only clarify their financial strategies but also set a precedent for transparency and donor engagement in the nonprofit sector.

This investigation into the financial practices of a Burbank animal welfare organization is more than just a local concern; it is a poignant reflection on the responsibilities of nonprofit organizations to their donors, beneficiaries, and the broader community. The outcome of this inquiry has the potential to influence fundraising and financial management practices across the nonprofit landscape.

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