By Paul Gessler

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The two groups share four letters, but they are not affiliated.

A CBS News investigation showed just where those national ASPCA donations go.

READ MORE: ASPCA spending may not be what donors expect, CBS News investigation finds

The commercial campaign is memorable for its heartbreaking images and call for donations. Singer Sarah McLachlan asks, “Will you be an angel for a helpless animal?”

After debuting the ads more than a decade ago, the ASPCA’s revenues tripled and staff doubled.

These resources are not being felt at SPCAs across the country. Groups like the Maryland SPCA are not affiliated with the national organization.

“Every year, we have to answer the question and to clarify we are an independent organization,” said Jim Peirce, executive director of the Maryland SPCA.

That means no money from the ASPCA to care for the 3,000 other animals that come through the Maryland shelter.

The CBS News investigation revealed about 40% of donations to the ASPCA go toward hands-on help with animals.

A few local SPCAs received grants worth a few thousand dollars from the ASPCA, grants they had to apply for. Most, like Maryland’s, who applied for the last two years, got nothing.

Of the $2 billion it raised since 2008, the ASPCA gave $146 million, or 7%, of the total money raised to member groups.

But during the same time period, CBS News found it spent nearly three times that – at least $421 million – on fundraising.

The CBS News investigation showed that in 2019, ASCPCA’s chief executive officer made more than $840,000.

That has local, unaffiliated shelters reminding donors their money can stay local and go further.

“When you give to the Maryland SPCA, you are giving to pets and people in the community here in your neighborhood,” Peirce said.

The ASPCA told CBS News in part, “Any characterization that suggests all of our work is not in service of our mission is wrong and an injustice to our staff, donors, the organizations we partner with, and the animals we serve.”

Of course, most charities spend money to raise money.

The nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator gives the ASPCA two out of four stars on financials, spending about 23 percent on fundraising and management.

The Maryland SPCA, overall and on finances, earns three out of four stars.

Paul Gessler