Donors Urged To Make Informed Decisions With Their Charitable Dollars

Attorney General Spitzer today released his office’s annual report on fundraising activities of non-profit organizations that engage telemarketers to solicit charitable contributions from New Yorkers. The report shows that 37 percent of all the money raised by telemarketers last year went to charity.

The 11th annual report, "Pennies for Charity, Where Your Money Goes: Telemarketing by Professional Fund Raisers," is prepared to show New Yorkers how much of the money they contribute in response to telemarketer solicitations actually supports charitable programs. It is based on financial reports filed by professional fundraisers for campaigns conducted during 2004.

The Attorney General’s report found that, of a total of $170.6 million raised on behalf of 440 charities in 2004 by 555 telemarketing campaigns, only $63.5 million was retained by charitable organizations. The remainder was paid to the fundraisers for fees and other campaign-related costs.

"The purpose of this report is to shine a light on professional fundraising and telemarketing campaigns," said Spitzer. "I believe my office's efforts to educate the public are having a positive effect. Over the past several years, we are seeing a larger percentage of charitable donations raised going to support charitable programs."

Among the significant findings of the Attorney General’s report are:

  • An average of 37.24 percent of the funds were retained by charities, an increase from last year’s 33.7 percent;
  • 115 of the 555 campaigns forwarded to the charities less than 20 percent of funds raised;
  • Only 25 campaigns contributed more than 65% of funds raised to charities, the base level recommended by the Better Business Bureau.

"Donors are urged to give directly to a charitable organization rather than through a professional telemarketing campaign and to review the annual financial report of a charity before making a contribution," Spitzer said.

The registrations of 12 organizations included in the Attorney General’s report have been canceled for failure to file timely or complete annual reports for at least one fiscal year prior to 2004. These organizations are no longer authorized to solicit contributions from New Yorkers. This year’s Pennies for Charity report adds a new table listing the name of each charitable organization, the total amount raised by each and the total amount retained by each.

The Attorney General’s website, http://www.charitiesnys.com, contains an electronic copy of the report and additional information related to charitable giving and fundraising. 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 State.

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