Charitable Donors Urged To Make Informed Decisions

Attorney General Spitzer today released a report showing that most of the money raised for charities in New York by telemarketers goes instead to professional fundraising firms.

The annual report, called "Pennies for Charities," provides a detailed listing of information filed with the state by professional telemarketers conducting fundraising campaigns in New York.

The report shows that $194 million was raised for charities in 1999. However, only $55.3 million, or 28.5 percent, actually went to the charitable organizations. The remainder of the money raised - $138.7 million, or 71.5 percent of the total - was retained by professional telemarketers for fees and other costs.

In 1998, $178 million was raised, with $52.1 million, or 29.2 percent, actually going to charities.

"Our report provides an important road map for New Yorkers who donate to charity," said Spitzer. "It gives consumers the information they need to determine whether their donations are having the greatest impact possible. After reviewing our findings, consumers may choose to donate directly to charitable organizations rather than through a professional fund raiser acting on behalf of a charity. The report also enables charities to select their soliciting agents wisely in order to maximize their returns."

The report provides the names of charitable organizations registered with the Attorney General's office, the professional fund raiser who conducted each organization's campaign, the location of each soliciting charity, the total amount raised, the amount the charity received, the percentage of the total the charity received and the amount of uncollected pledges.

The report also includes data on the location of the charities registered in New York. Each charity has been assigned to one of eight geographic areas based on the address on file at the Attorney General's office. The report shows the gross amount raised in each geographic area and the net percentage of funds raised that actually went to the region's charities.

The percentages range from a high of 48 percent in the New York City region to a low of 22 percent on Long Island.

The regional breakdown is as follows:

New York City 48 percent
(Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond, and Staten Island);
Rochester 37 percent
(Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, and Yates);
Lower Hudson 36 percent
(Delaware, Dutchess, Oragne, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester);
Western New York 35 percent
(Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming);
Capital District and Eastern Adirondacks 32 percent
(Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington);
Central New York and Western Adirondacks 27 percent
(Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Tioga, and Tompkins); and
Long Island 22 percent
(Nassau and Suffolk).

The information contained in the report pertains solely to telemarketing campaigns conducted by charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in New York. An electronic copy of the report and more information can be found at the Attorney General's web site: