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Mission Metamorphosis the Reinvention of the American Humane Association


Dr. Robin R. Ganzert president and CEO of the American Humane Association (AHA) recently released Mission Metamorphosis detailing the restructuring and redirection of the organization.

Our industry recognizes the AHA as a responsible voice in livestock welfare with a multifold mission serving as an admired and prominent charity with high ethical standards.  Egg producers interact with the AHA through the American Humane Certified Program that provides an assurance that eggs are raised humanely and in accordance with standards based on science and quantitative evaluation. 


When Dr. Ganzert was appointed to her leadership role in October 2010, she was unaware of the rapidly deteriorating financial reserves, lack of leadership and diffusion of purpose threatening the very existence of an organization that had provided service to the community and to animals for close to 150 years.


Mission Metamorphosis describes a stepwise reevaluation of the AHA conducted in less than 60- days. The review identified primary and consequential problems and deficiencies that were prioritized for resolution. Responses to the situation facing management required cancellation of many non-productive programs, downsizing staff and a decision to sell the relatively lavish Colorado headquarters and move to Washington DC. These actions placed the AHA on a path to solvency. 


Dr. Robin Ganzert


The book clearly illustrates the need for nonprofits to define their mission, develop a suitable structure, appoint competent leaders and to maintain a program of ethical fundraising. In her initial approach and then subsequently Dr. Ganzert applied sound business principles to establish financial stability, without which AHA would not have been able to expand programs that have relevance to contemporary society.


During fiscal year 2010 preceding her tenure the AHA ran a deficit of close to $6 million.  By trimming programs and redirecting efforts, the AHA established a small surplus in 2012.  Through her efforts Dr. Ganzert increased revenue from $15.7 million in fiscal 2010 to $44.7 million in 2019 allowing the AHA to attain a $1.4 million surplus.  The initial year of her direction involved a $16 million reduction in budgeted expenses, downsizing 60 percent of staff positions and revamping programs for relevance and efficiency. In 2010, Dr. Ganzert determined that fundraising and general administration respectively absorbed 14.4 percent and 6.6 percent of revenue, leaving 79 percent for programs.  Ten years later under her guidance, fundraising and general administration were reduced to 6.0 percent and 2.6 percent of revenue allowing 91.3 percent of income to be directed to programs.  In practical terms, program funding increased over threefold from $12.4 million in 2010 to $40.7 million in 2019.


Apart from the American Humane Certified Program activities that have generated public support include emergency response to disasters including floods and hurricanes, world wide species preservation and conservation, pet facilitated therapy, military dog retirement, the Humane Hollywood program, support for animal rescue shelters, recognition of service animals and Pups-4 Patriots support for veterans.


Bringing back AHA from the brink of bankruptcy, Dr. Ganzert reestablished the creditability and function of the Association.  Consumer Reports regards American Humane as the best U.S. charity deserving of support; AHA has earned anr‘A’ rating from Charity Watch and Gold-level status from Guidestar USA.  Charity Navigator awarded American Humane 4-stars, the highest for any humane group. The AHA ranks in the top one percent on the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance list.


Mission Metamorphosis serves as a text on how to rejuvenate a non-profit functioning with good intensions but subject to incompetent management.  Our industry that preferentially supports AHA through the Humane Certified program should be assured of the contribution that the Association makes to society. 


The only prospective negative from Mission Metamorphosis is that a Board of another non-profit may recognize the skill, creativity and communicating ability of Dr. Ganzert and induce her to accept  a new and larger challenge.