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Post date: November 16 2009

Cuomo Issues Annual Charities Fundraising Report And Launches New Online Search Tool To Help New Yorkers Make Informed Decisions On Charitable Giving

NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 16, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today released his annual charities report documenting how for-profit “telemarketers” pocket the bulk of contributions New Yorkers give to charities. Cuomo also launched a new online search tool to help New Yorkers make informed decisions about their donations. According to the report, in 2008 an average of just 39.5 cents of every charitable dollar raised by these professional telemarketing companies actually went to charity.  Many charities across the state received even less. The new interactive Web page allows potential donors to easily search the report by the name of the charity or by region of the state. A link to the new search tool can be found on the Attorney General’s Web site at Users will be able to see how much money was raised and how much money actually went to each charitable organization. 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 2008.  “Especially in this tough economy, it is essential that New Yorkers understand where every penny is going when giving to a charity,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Our new search tool makes it easier to check how much goes to fundraisers and how much goes to charities. This will ensure that people across New York looking to give this holiday season can make an informed decision before they donate, and hopefully it will encourage giving to those charities which keep and use more of the funds raised.” According to the report, telemarketers raised a total of $204.8 million on behalf of 444 New York charities in 2008.  In total, $123.9 million, or approximately 60.5 percent, was paid to the telemarketers as profits, fees and other costs of the campaigns, leaving charities with less than 39.5 percent of the money actually raised for their causes.  The report urges charities across the state to find more effective means to raise money.  It also urges the public to lodge complaints with the Office of the Attorney General about questionable fundraising practices. Some of the significant findings regarding the 584 fundraising campaigns covered in the Attorney General’s report are:

    In over 80 percent of the “fundraising” campaigns, the charities kept less than 50 percent of the funds raised. In nearly half, charities received less than 30 percent of the funds raised.
  • In only seven percent of the 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.
  • In 42 of the campaigns, charities actually lost money.