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December 18, 2012 > Charitable solicitation campaigns by commercial fundraisers

Charitable solicitation campaigns by commercial fundraisers

Submitted By the Office of the State Attorney General


The average amount of donated funds, raised by professional fundraisers, going to charities has increased from 44.4 percent in 2010 to 51 percent in 2011. The data is included in the California Department of Justice's Annual Report of the results of commercial fundraising campaigns for charities, produced by the Charitable Trusts Section.

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

The Attorney General's office also publishes the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors that provides advice, guidelines and information to help donors make informed decisions about giving. The guide suggests that donors:

Ask the fundraiser how a donation will be distributed. Fundraisers are required by law to tell a consumer this information.

Ask what percentage of donations will be used to pay for fundraising expenses. This information can better inform the consumer as to how much of the contribution will go to the cause versus overheads.

Ask if the fundraiser works for a commercial fundraiser and is being paid to solicit. If the answer is yes, it is likely less of the funds are going to the charity.

Avoid cash donations, as cash can more easily be diverted to non-charitable purposes and there is no way to trace it.

Avoid giving credit card information to a telephone solicitor or in response to a telephone solicitation.

Learn about a charitable organization, its activities and its fundraising practices before giving. The Attorney General's office maintains a searchable online database on registered charities and registered professional fundraisers at http://bit.ly/rDgfgc. Donors 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 Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors is available online at: http://oag.ca.gov/charities/publications. For the full report on commercial fundraisers, visit http://bit.ly/ViFfQj

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