Photo Courtesy of the Office of the State Attorney General
State Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently released the annual “Pennies for Charity” report.
By Forum Staff
Nearly one-third of charitable donations ended up in the pockets of professional fundraisers, according to a report released on Monday by the State Attorney General’s Office.
The annual analysis, “Pennies for Charity: Where Your Money Goes; Fundraising by Professional Fundraisers,” showed that of the more than $1.18 billion raised in 2017 through 964 campaigns conducted by professional fundraisers, New York charities netted more than $812 million, or 69 percent of the proceeds, while professional fundraisers’ fees and expenses totaled $372 million, or 31 percent.
Other significant findings from analyzing the 964 fundraising campaigns covered by this report include:
In 313 campaigns, or approximately 32 percent of the campaigns covered in the analysis, fundraisers retained more than 50 percent of the funds raised, with 49 percent or less going to the charity; and in 156 campaigns (16 percent), fundraising expenses exceeded charitable revenue. In 2017, this loss to charities totaled more than $10 million.
This year’s report also looked at recent fundraising trends, such as the increase in use of crowdfunding platforms. Telemarketing, while continuing to decline as a fundraising method, remained among the costliest mechanisms, with 271 telemarketing campaigns by fundraisers retaining more than 50 percent of funds raised for charities.
This year’s “Pennies for Charity” also featuresadvice for donors, including specific guidance for responding to phone, direct mail, or online solicitations. Key tips include:
Take Time to Research the Organization: Make sure you are familiar with the organization, its mission, and its effectiveness before giving. Always ask for information in writing – and be wary if an organization will not provide information about its charitable programs and finances upon request. Consult sites such as charitiesnys.com and charitynavigator.org.
Know where Your Money Will Go: Ask specifically how the charity plans to use your donation, including the services and organizations your donation will support.
Don’t Be Pressured by Telemarketers: Telemarketers are required to identify themselves and their employer and tell you they are being paid to call you. They also must respond truthfully to your questions. Don’t fall for pressure tactics, such as repeated phone calls or threats. These are signs that the organization may not be legitimate. Always remember you have the right to say no to any charitable request.
Ask to Be Put On a “Do Not Call” List: You have the right to request to be placed on the telemarketer’s “Do Not Call” list. It is not illegal for telemarketers for charities to call telephone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry, but consumers can stop such calls by telling telemarketers not to call them on behalf of specific charities. Telemarketers are required to honor such requests. You may also ask a charity to take you off its solicitation list.
Don’t Disclose Personal Information: Never give your social security number or other personal information in response to a charitable solicitation. Never give out credit card information over the phone or to an organization you are not familiar with.
Never Give Cash. Give your contribution by check made payable to the charity.
Report Suspicious Organizations: If you believe an organization is misrepresenting its work, or that a scam is taking place, please contact the attorney general’s Charities Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 416-8401.