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State AG’s report: most holiday donations go to pockets of for-profit telemarketers

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. File photo

New York State Attorney General's Office

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently released his office's annual fundraising report showing that for-profit telemarketers receive the lion's share of donations they raised on behalf of charities.

“Pennies for Charity, Where Your Money Goes: Telemarketing by Professional Fundraisers” reports that, in 2011, fundraisers were paid an average of 61.5 cents of every charitable dollar they raised, with just 38.5 cents of the funds going to charity.

The Attorney General also announced that he has commenced an investigation to determine if New York's charities and fundraising laws have been violated. The investigation focuses on fundraising campaigns that repeatedly result in little or no money going to charitable programs or services. Over a dozen subpoenas have been issued with more anticipated.

“New Yorkers expect that their hard-earned dollars will make a difference and not line the pockets of for-profit fundraisers at the expense of charity,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “During this season of giving when so many are still struggling to recover from Sandy, the generosity of donors must be protected.”

“Pennies for Charity” aggregates information from fundraising reports filed with the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau for telemarketing campaigns conducted in 2011. Some of the significant findings regarding the 602 fundraising campaigns covered in the Attorney General’s report include

  • In 467 of the 602 campaigns, the charities kept less than 50 percent of the funds raised.
  • In 207 of the 602 campaigns, the charities retained less than 30 percent of the funds raised.
  • In 76 of the 602 campaigns, charities actually lost money.
  • In only 49 of the 602 campaigns did the charity retain at least 65 percent of the money raised, the amount deemed acceptable under the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charitable organizations. 

 The Attorney General’s interactive website allows potential donors to easily search the report by the name of the charity or by region in New York State. A link to the search tool can be found on the Attorney General’s charities website at www.charitiesnys.com. Users can see how much money was raised by professional fund raisers and how much money actually went to each charitable organization.

Attorney General Schneiderman urges New Yorkers to heed the following tips when making donations to charity during this holiday season:

  • Resist Pressure To Give On The Spot. If you receive a call from a telemarketer, do not feel pressured to give over the phone. You can just say no.
  • Look Up Charities. Review information about the charity before you give. 
  • Give to Established Charities. Donate to organizations you are familiar with or ones with a verifiable record of success meeting their charitable missions. Closely examine charities with names similar to more established organizations.

December 21, 2012 - 11:20am


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