I disagree with their politics, but I love their work...
January 31, 2017 6:26 AM   Subscribe

We routinely donate to a local dog rescue that does really good work (and is also the source of our dog). Unfortunately, the person who runs the rescue is a vocal and vehement Trump supporter, and I'm having difficulty parsing my feelings on whether or not to continue donating.

Things to know:

1. She doesn't share her politics through channels associated with the rescue, only through her personal facebook page. But, I see her facebook page because she added me as a friend. We are not friends & have never met - she knows my name through donations and other communication with the rescue.
2. This is a relatively small organization, and I'm not sure she takes a salary from it. She has another full-time job, afaik. So it's entirely possible all the money donated actually goes to dog stuff.
3. If we choose to stop donating, we would instead donate the money to another local animal welfare organization.

The main question, of course, is should I stop donating to this rescue? I know there's not one right answer to this question, but I'd love to hear any thoughts I haven't considered yet, especially if you've faced a similar situation. A secondary question is, should I tell the person why I've chosen to stop donating, if I make that choice?
posted by obfuscation to Human Relations (41 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unfollow her on Facebook. You'll still be friends, but her posts won't show up in your feed.
posted by rhizome at 6:44 AM on January 31, 2017 [11 favorites]

Imagine it's 1955 in Alabama. Would you choose to donate to a shelter whose owners might be giving money to the KKK, or to a shelter down the road?
Or Germany in 1939. Would you donate to a shelter run by a supporter of the Nazis?
Do what you'd do in either of those cases.
posted by flourpot at 6:46 AM on January 31, 2017 [46 favorites]

I'd unfollow and move my donations elsewhere.

She may be broadcasting her views only through her personal page, but that's a fine line since she added you as a friend, knowing you only through the shelter. If she wanted to keep her political views separate from her work, she could have done so.
posted by BibiRose at 6:52 AM on January 31, 2017 [15 favorites]

The dogs are non-partisan so to me, this would rest on the financial aspects of the organisation. Is it a registered charity?

"A section 501(c)(3) organization must make available for public inspection and copying any Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, filed after August 17, 2006." [Source]

That form discloses salary. Ask her for it; if she is a 501(c)(3) she's obligated to give it to you. If she is drawing a salary, I would shift to a different charity. If she is not, I would stay.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:03 AM on January 31, 2017 [10 favorites]

Best answer: This is not uncommon in rescue. I volunteer for a rescue that has volunteers at all ends of the spectrum, and the rescue director is VERY conservative. However, there is no politics shared on the rescue page, and politics aren't discussed at events. I would trust the rescue director with any animal in the world, and he would move heaven and earth for any dog in need, so I have no issue with donating to the rescue. The funds go to the dogs, as they should.

If they aren't mixing politics with the rescue work, I'd look at what the rescue does, and donate if they do good work, and it's clear that the funds go to the dogs, and not to a political agenda.

Unfollow her personal page, for your own well being.
posted by answergrape at 7:06 AM on January 31, 2017 [13 favorites]

I would keep donating. Now is the time for conversations, not polarization, with friends and neighbors. Get engaged politically (petitions, letters to the editor, maybe even run for office) but don't abandon the local community structures you value if they are still doing the good work you believe in.

Relatedly, I liked this recent op-ed in the WaPo: In Venezuela, we couldn’t stop Chávez. Don’t make the same mistakes we did.
posted by veery at 7:23 AM on January 31, 2017 [24 favorites]

I hope this isn't a huge generalization, but a tremendous number of rescue dogs come from the south (like the last two dogs my family had were from Arkansas), so it's just far more likely that you're going to be coming into contact with people who are conservative, supported Trump, don't trust Muslim people, whatever. If it's a registered charity and I think they do good work for the dogs, I would still donate to the cause- helping dogs.
posted by cakelite at 7:40 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would donate elsewhere but I'd take the time to tell her you deeply appreciate her rescue work and also honor the hopes and fears that made her a Trump supporter, and explain that for you he is as terrifying as an abusive owner to a helpless animal. I'd add that's why you just don't feel okay about continuing your support -- it feels too much like supporting Trump. I'd do it in a personal note.
posted by bearwife at 7:42 AM on January 31, 2017 [14 favorites]

People who support a conman should not be assumed to be honest. Even if it is a registered nonprofit, id assume she was skimming money off the top or otherwise abusing the status. Support someone who demonstrates common values and you'll feel better and be doing good.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:46 AM on January 31, 2017 [7 favorites]

If the woman were a vocal supporter of, say, John McCain, or Jeb Bush, or even Ted Cruz, I would absolutely agree that you should unfollow her on Facebook and continue donating. But Trump is different, and you know why. It's unlikely that every single penny you're giving her is going to care for the animals, even if most of it is. Give your money to a different animal shelter whose work you also admire.
posted by holborne at 7:48 AM on January 31, 2017 [9 favorites]

No: this person runs a rescue, and that's a Very Good Thing. Furthermore, this is the rescue you got your delightful hound from.

I have a zero tolerance policy for facebook friends who post political comments - and just turn them off if they do so - but wouldn't let their ill-advised choice to use fb as a vacuous soapbox detract from good they do as a human.
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 7:51 AM on January 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

Like most folks here have said, I agree: move on. Supporting the rabid right wing in any way, shape or form is just not on.
posted by james33 at 7:52 AM on January 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would definitely stop donations to that rescue and divert them to one that is hopefully run by a non-Trump supporter. Any way in which Trump or his supporters are tolerated is unacceptable to me and I couldn't live with myself.
posted by shesbenevolent at 7:58 AM on January 31, 2017 [9 favorites]

I actually wrote a blog post about this last month - how Facebook has caused the natural silos in our lives to get inter-mingled, and how I, for one, don't think that is such a great outcome.

62 million people voted for Trump, the idea that any of us can avoid them all is sort of silly. This person, assuming it's not all a tax scam is doing something good. I'd unfriend on Facebook and let it be. The shelter our dog came from is run by old white people who live in the country. I'm fairly certain there is a high percentage of Trump supporters in that group, but since our conversations when we stop by adoption day at PetSmart to drop $10 in the bucket generally doesn't get much beyond how cute the dogs are, I don't have to deal with it.
posted by COD at 8:28 AM on January 31, 2017 [8 favorites]

If she's doing good work for dogs, I would unfriend her but continue supporting the work.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:41 AM on January 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

I don't know. I'm pretty hardheaded on these issues, but I'm not sure that supporting a nonpolitical charity that happens to be run by a private citizen who is a Trump supporter inherently constitutes "supporting Trump." If that's the case, all of us are supporting Trump every day, because we are continuing to do business with people and companies who are Trump supporters. It's unavoidable.

I also don't know what "vocal" and "vehement" constitutes, exactly: whether she is simply posting "Make America Great Again rah rah rah" or whether she's making specific racist/Islamophobic/homophobic statements. I think I'd have more trouble with the latter than the former: there is a spectrum of Trump supporters, and I don't think we are morally obliged to treat them all as identical.

If it's more the former than the latter, I'd unfollow, and I'd let her know why you're unfollowing. "I can't bear to read these comments you're making. I'm terrified of what Trump is going to do to our country; the cruelty he's engaged in so far and his disrespect for our values are in direct opposition to the principles that make me support your group."

If it's more the latter than the former, I'd move on. There are a plethora of worthy dog rescues and other charities, and not one of them is suffering from an excess of donations. Heck, if you need suggestions, I can supply some.
posted by praemunire at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2017 [11 favorites]

I think this is one of those questions only you can answer - however I personally would donate to a different rescue. It's not only the dogs that benefit from this woman's work. She will be benefiting too by getting those warm, fuzzy feelings that tell her she's a good person because of what she does for dogs, and despite the hate she supports directed towards humans. I would not personally like to contribute to making her feel like a good person right now.
posted by hazyjane at 9:02 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just my opinion on it but having voted for him and not speaking out are bad, open support of him is worse.

COD, truncated :"people voted for Trump. . . assuming it's not all a tax scam"

This is where you lost me.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:05 AM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Look, the poor dogs aren't Trump supporters, and they will be the ones who suffer if you stop giving. It is OK to condemn support for Trump but approve of positive contributions to society made by the same person. Humans, like everything else in life are complex. Black and white, good and evil only-type thinking has never been very helpful in my experience.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:26 AM on January 31, 2017 [9 favorites]

the person who runs the rescue is a vocal and vehement Trump supporter,

One more point in response to everyone who wants to give these folks the benefit of the doubt:
I would agree that many people who originally supported Trump were ordinary decent peopole. Yes, they were allowing themselves to close their eyes to little things like the fact that he, oh, sexually attacks strangers on airplanes, but that was because they thought he'd bring back jobs.
Things have changed, folks.
Anyone who is STILL a vocal and vehement Trump supporter since it's become obvious he's behaving like a dictator is not just a naive nostalgic conservative. Many of our most conservative politicians, the ones I disagree with fundamentally, are basically people whose principals are different than my own, decent people who believe that conservative policies are actually good for the country. If people like Cheney and McDaniel are coming out against Trump then no one can pretend it's just conservative politics as usual to keep being "vehemently" in his camp.
Unless they have changed their minds since last week, this is not just some nice mom and pop business whose dogs outweigh their politics. I wouldn't have given Hitler money to offset his costs of buying treats for Blondi, his beloved pet German Shepherd (who he poisoned to test his suicide pill at the end.)
posted by flourpot at 9:50 AM on January 31, 2017 [16 favorites]

Reasoned answer:

For me, it would depend on whether this person drew a personal financial benefit from the rescue or not. If they were, as a salary or bonus money, or esteem which resulted in increased financial benefit, I would stop giving. If all the money truly just goes in and out of a balance sheet with exclusive restriction for the dogs, I would continue to give, though if it were a nonprofit, I'd consider requesting a restriction to a specific program within their mission so that the money is not fungible.

If they are not a 501c3 with all that entails in terms of transparency in funding, you could contact her and ask in a neutral tone. I'd probably send something along the lines of, "With increased need for many causes in the years to come, [Husband] and I are trying to focus our charitable giving to organizations which have good financials and the most impact. Would you be open to sending me a summary sheet of how much donated money goes towards dog care and how much goes towards other budget needs? We are interested in transparency in all of our charitable giving. This will help us make informed decisions about our charitable giving this year and in the future."

She could just send you her balance sheet, with nothing to hide, showing that all money going in goes towards dog care. It might even show that she puts her own money into the work without any associated benefit, as is the case with many rescues. If that's the case, I'd probably still donate. If she were cagey about transparency, I'd stop donating, but I wouldn't announce it. If she contacted me again about why I wasn't donating, I'd reference my desire to only donate to organizations which had financial transparency.

Less-reasoned answer:

I am a shit-stirring bitch and I would poke the bear by asking if she would adopt a dog out to Muslims or immigrants, and take her answer as an indicator of whether I want to fund the organization.
posted by juniperesque at 10:10 AM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

Why are you still her Facebook friend? You had to accept it to become her friend, and you can unfriend her now. Last I heard, there won't be any notice to her when you unfriend her.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:19 AM on January 31, 2017

I love dogs.

I don't give a fuck about this dog rescue.

There are lots of people out there doing good work that deserve your support, right in your community. Why wouldn't you help them instead?

I see this liberal hand-wringing all the time and 1. we're not playing by the same rules (they don't agonize over continuing to patronize the bakery that is willing to make a gay wedding cake, they throw bricks) 2. we're never going to win if we don't realize it

Reconciliation and conversation is not a reasonable goal. You need to stand up to hate mongers rather than rubbing them on the head and saying we're all the same inside. We're not. Use your privilege. Resist, on behalf of the non-white, non-hetero, non-christians who literally can't.
posted by danny the boy at 10:24 AM on January 31, 2017 [29 favorites]

Best answer: Can you donate non-cash items that directly benefit only the dogs (i.e. food, toys, etc.)?
posted by elphaba at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Depends on your greater goal. Conservatives have no problem defunding Planned Parenthood because they disapprove of abortion despite PP's overall excellent unrelated work.
posted by beaning at 10:39 AM on January 31, 2017 [4 favorites]

And PP's completely separated finances don't matter either.
posted by beaning at 10:45 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's a process, and not necessarily an easy one. I've had former friends who I've dropped when they expressed support for Trump and engaged in various forms of Trump apologism. I simply didn't feel right associating with them anymore, and it took a long time for me, taught throughout my life that someone's politics are secondary to what they provide me as a service or as a friend, to realize that those feelings are okay and that it's okay to act on them.

I've also started weeding out pro-Trump businesses and continued supporting businesses who came out against the ban. Some are more difficult than others, although I've almost completely eliminated use of PayPal and swapped out Uber for Lyft, and those two were the most pervasive.

Alternative dog rescues exist - I'd patronize one of them instead. It'll help your conscience and you'll still be supporting good work.
posted by thedarksideofprocyon at 10:57 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have any illusions about what Trump is doing. I come from a extended family of religious conservatives, and the Trump v. other Republican voting split went exactly along the previously-established family line of hateful monsters with whom I have no contact vs. misguided people who nonetheless have good in their hearts. I don't think such people need coddling, nor, indeed, do I think many of them will respond to anything other than a show of political force. I want every single Democrat to vote no on every single thing proposed by Trump for the next four years.

That said, this is your community. It is not possible to take a universally hard line with everyone in all spheres of life. Switching one-person dog rescues is not going to affect the balance of political power in any way. It really is a question of whether you think being a Trump supporter is so vile that it thoroughly pollutes any possible good this person might otherwise do in an essentially apolitical field, so that you cannot support literally saving puppies from death with a clean conscience because this person is involved. Unlike whether the Democrats should vote for Trump cabinet nominees, I think this is a case-by-case question.
posted by praemunire at 10:57 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

There are so very many dogs in need, and so many good rescues in need of funds that I would simply change. Your wonderful dog came from there, but all the dogs are wonderful. Everywhere.
posted by Vaike at 11:00 AM on January 31, 2017 [4 favorites]

It really is a question of whether you think being a Trump supporter is so vile that it thoroughly pollutes any possible good this person might otherwise do in an essentially apolitical field, so that you cannot support literally saving puppies from death with a clean conscience because this person is involved.

If absolutely no one else was saving puppies from death, I would recommend taking up puppy-saving before you support this person's organization.

Trump is sufficiently vile to warrant taking a stand against him and his supporters at every opportunity. Were it not for them, we wouldn't be in this god-awful mess.
posted by she's not there at 12:16 PM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

Our economic power is one of the few tools at our disposal. Cutting off support to someone spouting abhorrent views sends a message that you reject those views. Continuing to support the Trump supporter emboldens them, allowing hate and intolerance to creep further into the light and into the mainstream.

It's true we can't completely avoid accidentally supporting Trump supporters. It's also beside the point. This woman isn't just quietly donating to his PAC or privately discussing him at the dinner table. And you didn't go digging to find out who she voted for. She invited you to read her viewpoints. Let her feel the consequences.
posted by mama casserole at 12:50 PM on January 31, 2017 [10 favorites]

"She doesn't share her politics through channels associated with the rescue.."

So she's doing good things for dogs with your money, without being political about it. I'd keep donating, until you see signs that her politics is leaking into the dog rescue.

"..she added me as a friend. We are not friends & have never met."

Feel free to speak your mind. Be respectful, though: this person made it possible for you to own your adorable dog. She may unfriend you in the future.
posted by the Real Dan at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'll share a little longer explanation. When you react to abhorrent beliefs with politeness, you are basically saying to them and the rest of the world that those beliefs are a-ok. That they're a matter of disagreement, like picking which baseball team to cheer for.

Imagine instead a world where the people who believe it's ok to hurt other people who aren't like them, are treated with revulsion. That we see the cancer of hate in them, and we instinctively, reflexively, try to get as far away from it so not to be infected.

Actually, you don't have to imagine it. It is basically what every marginalized person's life is. It forces you into the closet if you can hide it, or drives you away if you can't. It's really pretty effective. I suggest that instead of using cultural pressure for evil, we use it for good.

I super don't give a shit about changing people's minds. I care about making it socially unacceptable to commit hate crimes. You know, like we had before the election.

Stand up for someone who can't stand up for themselves.
posted by danny the boy at 3:46 PM on January 31, 2017 [8 favorites]

For now, do whatever bring you peace. For me, that's supporting local businesses who aren't vocal about Trump. . . . and reading things like Hillbilly Elegy to feel more empathy and understand those who don't share my political beliefs. I really think it's worth remembering that supporting a local business isn't the only way to open a conversation, create dialogue, or broaden perspectives. We aren't talking about a friend or a relative here. It's a business, and you have no obligation to support it. Not supporting it financially doesn't mean you aren't making efforts elsewhere to create dialogue or open lines of communication. People may judge your decision, but that's their hangup and not yours.

Ironically (or maybe not?), recently in my fairly liberal neighborhood, the owner of a local business was outed on Facebook for his anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, alt-right hate speech and since then his business has completely tanked. He's been interviewed a few times on the news and can't understand why people are boycotting his business or why he's "being punished for his political beliefs." This was not on his business's Facebook page, but on his personal one. Regardless of what constitutes "personal versus private" in the realm of politics, it seems that the Internet will decide for you (hint: everything is public!). He chose to make his political beliefs known by posting them on Facebook, and whether it's right or wrong, people are boycotting his business. It's the same with your shelter - she should know that when she posts things on Facebook, whether it's her business's page or her own, people are going to react to her political beliefs. It's totally her prerogative to share those beliefs, but it's also her client's prerogative to take their business elsewhere.

I think that what gets lost here is that here's a huge difference between severing ties with close friends and family members over political disagreements versus being discriminating about where you choose to spend your money (and, by proxy, who/what ideas you support). I think there's also a big difference between boycotting a business merely for garden-variety political beliefs (like, those in a typical election year) versus boycotting a business in this election year, in this political climate.

I really, really want to feel the same way as other posters do about not alienating those on the other side of things. But (at this point in time) I just don't. Or can't. I'm not going to go to the Alt-Right Guy's bar and have a beer. I just won't. And honestly, we love our pet sitter and her staff have been nothing but wonderful to our beloved kitty. But if she were a vocal Trump supporter, I couldn't give her my money in good conscience. I'm not saying you shouldn't. I'm saying I couldn't. I'm not saying I'm right. I'm probably wrong. But every time I'd pay her, it would make me feel like I'm implicitly supporting something hateful, and that goes against every fiber of my being. I'm well aware that my feelings may be irrational and polarizing, but it is what it is.

If you choose to not donate at this time, you can always change your mind and start donating again in the future. If you want to donate money to support animals in the meantime (or as a permanent alternative), you can always donate to the SPCA.
posted by onecircleaday at 5:32 PM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Another option that's similar but with a bit of a twist:

Tell her, probably via a note but in person if you're frisky, that you are taking a hiatus from donating due to some legal issues/concerns regarding the recent actions of the Trump administration that are appalling and making you less able to give willingly in the present. Possibly even ask her for her thoughts on the same, though this isn't necessary for the suggestion to progress. Anyway, after that just wait. Seriously, wait. Wait for her to contact you with something that's either A) a kind (and apolitical or even apologetic) message of well wishes and support, B) a stream of vitriol that uses the terms cuck, SJW, sore loser, Hillary, or idiot, or C) a form letter that has no feeling tied to it in the least.

Take whatever response the person in question sends your way and use the most recent information/feelings that you are experiencing to determine if you want to go back to donating with these people or, as others have suggested, send your charity funds somewhere else.

As someone who is strongly considering breaking ties with some sub-branches of my family tree, I feel your pain. It's not easy but, at this point, I feel like anyone who is dumb or activist enough to support Trump can basically just be considered dead to me. Unless they're mentally ill / stressed, like an elderly person perhaps, they get a walk/pass any day of he week because, perhaps wrongly, I take 'respect your elders [of that age]" very seriously. Note that I said 'support Trump', not 'vote for / support Republicans' because, while fraught, I'd say the latter isn't necessarily as bad/hurtful as the former.

*Note that I do not think this is untrue in the least. It's a bit meta but here you are, quite literally, re-thinking your stance on these donations because of how terrible the administration and, by proxy, it's staunch fans and supporters are.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:23 PM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

At least one person, Naimma Hager, an ill, elderly woman trying to return to the US to be with her family and to access medical care, has died while being detained and separated from her family. Your dog rescue has a body count. That body count is not going to get smaller. Find another organization whose political and likely financial support doesn't save dogs and kill humans.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:33 PM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Can you just donate materials (dog food, blankets, toys, etc)? That way you continue to help the innocent dogs, but make it difficult for the owner to somehow divert your money into Trump support.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:37 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of Trump's cabinet picks (I can't remember but you can google) is an enormous pro-puppy mill anti-animal welfare asshole. If you want to engage her, or to stop donating, you could ask her about him, or say that you feel the need to donate to someone who does not tacitly endorse President Puppy Mill.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 4:54 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

The shelter is there to help dogs, not endorse a political candidate. Not donating or donating elsewhere hurts the one creature that will treat you with love and respect, regardless of political affiliation. Bless you for donating in the first place.
posted by Mr. Fig at 11:36 AM on February 5, 2017

Response by poster: After sitting on it, I've decided I'm not comfortable withdrawing support from these dogs entirely, but am no longer willing to send money directly. I plan to either donate & purchase goods, or look into whether I can contribute to paying vet bills for animals they rehabilitate. I plan to continue donating to other doggie beneficiaries!

(And, having long since unfollowed the director's personal posts, I went ahead and unfriended her.)

Thanks for the feedback, all.
posted by obfuscation at 2:17 PM on February 10, 2017

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