Poll Shows Majority of Americans Prefer Cruelty-Free Charities
Physicians Group to Certify Health Charities That Don't Fund Animal Experiments
WASHINGTON—A new poll shows that 56 percent of adults say they are more likely to donate to a health charity that does not fund animal experiments than to one that does. The survey of 1,001 men and women was conducted from November 16 to 19, 2001, by Opinion Research Corporation International of Princeton, N.J., on behalf of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
The nonprofit doctors group commissioned the study in conjunction with launching its Humane Charity Seal of Approval, a new program to certify health charities that fund only human-based research and services. PCRM promotes alternatives to the use of animals in research because of scientific and ethical reasons.
"Our findings show that the majority of Americans—when given an opportunity to make an informed decision—prefer to donate to health charities that don't fund animal experiments," says PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D. "It's no surprise—given the tremendous outpouring of support for the victims of September 11th—that Americans are compassionate. Our survey shows their compassion extends toward animals as well."
Survey respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement with the following two statements:
"I would be more likely to donate to a health charity that had a policy of never funding any type of animal experiments."
• Strongly agree/somewhat agree: 56 percent
• Somewhat disagree/strongly disagree: 37 percent
• Don't know: 7 percent
"I would be less likely to donate to a health charity if I knew that the charity funds animal research experiments."
• Strongly agree/somewhat agree: 49 percent
• Somewhat disagree/strongly disagree: 44 percent
• Don't know: 7 percent
Statistically, younger respondents and baby boomers were more likely to say they would support cruelty-free charities than the older age groups (55 to 64, and 65 and older). Says Dr. Barnard, "Given the size of the younger population groups and their strong values, charities that continue to fund wasteful animal experiments risk alienating an extremely large donor base." Seventy-one percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, 68 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds, 55 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds, and 58 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds stated their preference for cruelty-free charities. This is the second poll PCRM has commissioned on people's attitudes about health charities; results are consistent with—and slightly more supportive of cruelty-free charities than—those from the first survey, conducted in 1996.
PCRM Launches Humane Charity Seal of Approval
The impetus behind the survey was PCRM's new Humane Charity Seal of Approval. The first program of its kind, the Seal identifies and certifies those charities with a policy against funding any type of animal experiments. Charities that qualify are licensed to use the Humane Seal graphic on their educational and fundraising materials; the Seal's simple design quickly conveys the message: This charity is cruelty-free.
PCRM administers the program on behalf of the Council on Humane Giving, a coalition of physicians and animal protection organizations. Charities wishing to apply for certification must sign a statement of assurance that they do not fund or conduct animal experiments. There is no fee for applying for or using the Seal. Thirty-some charities, including the Heimlich Institute, the Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry, and the Follow Your Heart Foundation, have received certification to date.
The Humane Charity Seal of Approval is an offshoot of PCRM's longstanding program to track which charities do and don't fund animal experiments. As Dr. Barnard says, "Over the years, we've provided millions of donors the information they needed to choose a humane charity. The Seal will make their choice that much simpler. It gives charitably minded people a quick and trustworthy way to choose a charity that matches their values."
The broader implications of the Seal are clear. As more Americans vote "cruelty-free" with their donations, more charities will rethink their funding priorities. Says Dr. Barnard, "Our prediction is that within the next few years, we will see a major shift in the philanthropic world, similar to the impact the cruelty-free cosmetics campaigns have had on the personal care products industry."
Over the past year, PCRM's charities campaign was instrumental in convincing Kmart, Publix, and SaraLee corporations to restrict their March of Dimes donations to only human-based research and services. And, earlier this month, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, the nation's largest breast cancer effort, announced it will no longer fund research projects involving animals.
"Given public sentiment and the growing body of literature proving that physiological differences between animals and humans hamper medical research, it's clear the best way to advance human health and protect animals is to redirect our research dollars," says Dr. Barnard.
Additional details about the Humane Charity Seal of Approval, including information about alternatives to animal experiments, are available at www.HumaneSeal.org. The site also lists all certified charities.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.