America has lost her favorite golden daughter, but her death creates a golden opportunity for the animal causes she championed.
Fans of actress and comedian Betty White, who passed away on December 31, honor her memory by donating to nonprofits that help animals, White’s lifelong passion.
Monetary tributes appear to have started within hours of news of White’s death, and fans are now hoping to turn what would have been White’s 100th birthday into a fundraising boon for animal groups. A social media campaign called the Betty White Challenge encourages people to send $ 5 to a local animal shelter or animal shelter on White’s behalf on January 17, when White would have turned 100.
When she wasn’t busy charming audiences on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and as St. Olaf’s Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls,” White was an ardent advocate for animals – not just cats and animals. dogs, but sea creatures and monkeys, too. She was a director of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, the Morris Animal Foundation, and the Actors and Others for Animals, and a long-time supporter of the Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization.
“Almost immediately after the press about his passing we started receiving donations,” said Susan Taylor, executive director of Actors and Others for Animals, a nonprofit organization in North Hollywood, Calif., Which provides support. financial assistance to animal owners to sterilize or sterilize their animals. . As of Jan. 4, the group had received around $ 5,000 from more than 105 people donating on White’s behalf, Taylor said.
“Betty always puts animals first”
At the Morris Animal Foundation, more than 850 individual donors gave nearly $ 60,000 to the Betty White Wildlife Fund between Dec.31 and Jan.4, said Carol Borchert, director of marketing. White established the fund in 2010, in part in response to the adverse effects of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill on marine life. White has also sponsored more than 30 animal health studies “to improve the health of cats, dogs, horses and several species of wildlife, including California sea otters and mountain gorillas,” he said. officials of the foundation said in a statement.
“Betty always puts animals first,” said Dr Rob Hilsenroth, former executive director of the Morris Animal Foundation and longtime friend of White.
In the 1990s, White funded studies of pain management in animals, Hilsenroth said. “Today, if a veterinarian performs elective surgery, such as spaying or neutering without using pain management, he could face a malpractice charge. You can thank Betty White for this revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today, ”said Hilsenroth.
White “would always be there to help us when we needed to raise funds for sterilization,” added Actors and Others for Animals President JoAnne Worley. In 2005, White authorized the group to host a Celebrity Roast of Her as a fundraiser. “She will be missed by all who loved to laugh with her,” Worley said.
“Anything that has a leg at every corner”
White hosted a TV show called “The Pet Set” in the early 1970s, where famous guests showed off their pets. She wrote a book in the 1980s called “How Animals Take Care of Us” and another book on zoos to raise funds for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.
Her love for animals stems from her family caring for more than a dozen dogs during the Depression, she told The Associated Press, and she wrote in the zoo book that her two parents were crazy about animals who passed on their love of critters to him. . White is said to have owned up to 26 dogs herself. She liked “anything that had a leg on every corner,” she told the AP.
Animal causes get the smallest share of charitable donations
Animal-related charities don’t feature high on Americans’ charitable giving priority list, but they have grown in popularity in recent years, according to Giving USA, an annual report on charitable giving. Americans gave $ 16.14 billion – the highest amount ever – to animal and environmental causes in 2020, the latest year for which data was available.
Animal and environmental groups received about 3% of all charitable donations – the smallest of the donation categories tracked by Giving USA. However, amounts going directly to animal causes are difficult to measure because Giving USA counts animal groups in the same category as environmental organizations. The top three recipients of charitable donations in the United States in 2020 were nonprofits related to religion, education, and social services (or organizations that provide food and shelter to people in the need).
See also: Greenpeace wants donors to take inspiration from ‘succession’ and embrace ‘despite philanthropy’