The ASPCA: 'The Most Hands-On Animal Welfare Organization In The Country'

The ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere, and since 1866 they've sought to "provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States."

We talked to Todd Hendricks, the ASPCA's Senior VP of Development about his work, the ASPCA's participation in Members Project from American Express and what's next for the ASPCA.

Todd touched on the importance of social media in their strategy for Members Project and beyond:
A lot of our support did come through social media channels. We have about close to 400,000 Facebook fans and we do work very hard to leverage that, you know the growth in the social media area. There's a lot of activity on our facebook site and as everybody who has invested in that area knows, it's a great way to reach an audience and to ask that audience to participate with the organization.

With so many animal-related organizations in the US, we talked to Todd about how the ASPCA manages to continue to stand out:
We're North America's oldest animal welfare organization. We were founded in 1866 and we are very hands-on in our work. We have an adoption facility here in New York City but our program work really extends across the country and community work through our ASPCA partner organizations, ASPCA partnership program. We really like to consider ourselves the most hands-on animal welfare organization in the country.

What would people be surprised to learn about the ASPCA?
The primary groups in our anti-cruelty group are our Field Investigations and Response team. This was created really in 2005 to assist with rescuing animals during Hurricane Katrina. That's part of what we do, we were active in Nashville and the floods there. So although that's not a primary of our organization, we do do disaster relief work where we're needed. The biggest responsibility of this group is to assist and to lead in efforts to combat direct animal cruelty such as dog fighting and puppy mills.

What should people know before adopting a shelter animal?
You know people oftentimes don't think of the commitment that it really takes to bring an animal into their home and it's very important for animals who come out of the shelter system to be loved and cared for and it does take a commitment. So people should really make sure they understand the commitment that's necessary.

How do you plan to use the Members Project funding?
The funds will be used to support our anti-cruelty adoption and disaster response program so really focusing on combating animal cruelty and trying to ensure humane treatment for all animals who are either abandoned or in shelters or confined in puppy mills.

The Members Project from American Express and Take Part is an innovative new way to give back: it's an online philanthropy contest that is open to anyone and lets the public decide who wins.

If you want your favorite charity to win big, register for the Members Project, and cast your votes to help 5 charities win a total of $1,000,000.

This article is part of a series of interviews with winners of the first round to get details on their charities and how they hope to use their new funds.

And be sure to stay tuned to American Express and Take Part's Members Project, because there's new voting every three months and new winners at the end of each voting period. You're just a click away from making a difference.