Calif. AG releases commercial fundraising report

Legal News Line Dec. 25, 2008, 1:20pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - A study by the California attorney general's office found that 43.6 percent of money raised by 730 registered commercial fundraising companies actually made it to the designated charities.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown released the report on Tuesday, derived from the attorney general's Charitable Solicitation Report from 2007. In all, the report found that these organizations raised $370.33 million during that year.

"The report reveals that some fundraising campaigns are wildly successful and others are profound disappointments," Brown said. "In some cases, commercial fundraisers have stunning successes, generating millions for good causes. In others, the overhead costs outpace the dollars raised, and the charities have to foot the bill."

More than half the money raised went to the commercial fundraisers who receive a percentage of donations or a flat fee for services.

Individually, some organizations did better than the collective numbers suggest, including one company that raised $15.9 million for the March of Dimes Foundation. More than 70 percent of those funds were given to the foundation.

California law has required commercial fundraisers to file these reports.

Based on information from these reports, the attorney general's office provides a Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors. Suggestions include asking how a specific donation will be distributed, avoiding cash donations and avoiding giving credit card information to a telephone solicitor.

Donors can learn more about the company involved through charitable watch groups, the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general's Web site.

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