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December 2, 2011 > Report details charitable solicitation campaigns

Report details charitable solicitation campaigns

Submitted By Office of the State Attorney General

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released data on November 29, 2011, showing that commercial fundraisers in California raised $362.9M in 2010, of which charitable organizations received less than 45 percent.

This is an increase from the 2009 total of less than 43 percent. The data is included in the California Department of Justice's Annual Report of Commercial Fundraisers, produced by the Charitable Trusts Section.

"The data allows donors to make informed choices this holiday season," said Harris. "Commercial fundraisers play a role in supporting charities in California but it's important for donors to know how much of their money will support their preferred charity's programs and how much will go to fundraising expenses."

The annual report contains many tables, including an alphabetical list of charities that hired commercial fundraisers in 2010 showing the total revenue raised in those campaigns and the dollar amount and percentage of total funds raised that went to the charity.

Commercial fundraisers, who are hired by charities to raise money on their behalf, typically charge a flat fee for their services or a percentage of the contributions they collect.

By law, commercial fundraisers must register with the Attorney General's office before fundraising in California and must file annual, financial disclosure reports detailing income and expenses for each campaign.

The $362.9M collected by commercial fundraisers in 2010 excludes thrift store operations and vehicle donation programs, which are accounted for separately. On average, $161.1M, or 44.38 percent of the funds raised, went to the charities. Commercial fundraisers retained the remainder as payment for fees and expenses.

The Attorney General's office also publishes the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors which provides advice, guidelines and information to help donors make informed decisions about giving and is available online at http://tinyurl.com/d6glezo. The guide suggests that donors 1) Ask the solicitor how a donation will be distributed; 2) Ask what percentage of donations will be used to pay for fundraising expenses; 3) Ask if the solicitor works for a commercial fundraiser and is being paid to solicit; 4) Avoid cash donations; 5) Avoid giving credit card information to a telephone solicitor or in response to a telephone solicitation; 6) Learn about a charitable organization, its activities and its fundraising practices before giving.

Donors can check the Attorney General's searchable, online database of registered charities and registered professional fundraisers at http://tinyurl.com/6m78la6. They can also check the websites of the Wise Giving Alliance at www.bbb.org/us/charity and the American Institute of Philanthropy at www.charitywatch.org.

The Attorney General's 19th annual report on commercial fundraisers can be found at http://tinyurl.com/cuz3lxs.

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