Oh, I agree.
Those in the lower ranks and the general public think they're supporting the humane treatment of animals, when all they're really doing is helping to forward the agendas of HSUS/PETA.
If people really want to help, like you said, they should volunteer their time, or donate money and materials to state and local shelters/rescues.
I'm all for the ASPCA and the state SPCAs. They're the true voice for the animals.