Attorney General Cuomo Issues Report Showing For-profit Telemarketers Pocket Lion's Share Of New Yorkers' Charitable Donations

NEW YORK, NY (December 30, 2008) - Attorney Andrew M. Cuomo today released a report documenting how for-profit “telemarketers” take huge percentages of contributions New Yorkers give to charities. According to the report, on average, just 39 cents of every charitable dollar raised by these professional telemarketing companies actually goes to charity. The balance is used to pay fees and expenses associated with the fundraising. The report, issued by the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, will help New Yorkers to make more informed decisions when giving to charities across the state

According to the report, telemarketers raised a total of $178.7 million on behalf of 442 charities. In total, $108.2 million, or approximately 61 percent, was paid to the telemarketers as fees and other costs of the
campaigns, leaving charities with less than 40 percent of the money actually raised for their causes.

"Especially in today's economy, when New Yorkers give their hard-earned money to charity, they expect the donation to make a difference and to help those in need," said Attorney General Cuomo. "This report arms New Yorkers with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions about contributing, and also encourages charities across the state to find more effective ways to raise money."

The report, "Pennies for Charity, Where Your Money Goes: Telemarketing by Professional Fund Raisers," summarizes information filed with the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau by professional fund raisers who conducted telemarketing campaigns in 2007. Some of the significant findings of the Attorney General’s report are:

  • In nearly 80 percent, or 436 of the 553 campaigns, the charities kept less than 50 percent of the funds raised.
  • In nearly half, or 271 of the 553 campaigns, charities received less than 30 percent of the funds raised.
  • In 51 of the 553 campaigns reflected in the report, charities actually lost money.
  • In only 45 of the 553 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 website, http://www.charitiesnys.com , contains an
electronic copy of the report. The information contained in the Attorney General’s report pertains solely to telemarketing campaigns conducted by charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in New York.

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