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Attorney General Brown Releases Report Revealing Successes and Failures of Commercial Fundraisers in 2007

Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2008
Contact: Christine Gasparac (916) 324-5500

Attorney General Brown Releases Report Revealing Successes and Failures of Commercial Fundraisers in 2007

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Brown today made public a report outlining the revenues generated by the 730 commercial fundraisers registered with the California Department of Justice in 2007 and describing what percentage of the donations ended up in charitable coffers.

“The report reveals that some fundraising campaigns are wildly successful and others are profound disappointments,” Attorney General 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.”

The Attorney General’s Charitable Solicitation Report found that in 2007, commercial fundraisers collected $370.33 million from Californians in donations.

In total, just $161.6 million – or 43.6% of the donations raised actually made it to the charities. The remainder went to commercial fundraisers who receive a percentage from each donation or a flat fee as payment.

These figures, however, are averages and do not provide the full picture.

There are some cases where the vast majority of funds make it to the charity. For instance:

• A commercial company raised $15.9 million for the March of Dimes Foundation, which received $11 million, or more than 70%.

• A commercial company raised $1.2 million for the Alzheimer’s Association, which received $873,606, or 72%.

But other cases are not so successful, where the charity can find itself tens of thousands of dollars in the red.

The California Legislature passed a law in 1989 requiring commercial fundraisers to file these financial reports with the Attorney General. This is the 16th year that the Attorney General has published this annual report.

The report also describes and provides statistics for automobile donations and thrift store operations.

The Attorney General also publishes the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors that provides advice, guidelines and information to help donors in making giving decisions. The Guide suggests that donors:

1. Ask the solicitor how a donation will be distributed.
2. Ask what percentage of donations pays for fundraising expenses.
3. Learn about the charitable organization, its activities and its fundraising practices. Research charities by going to the Attorney General’s website. Check with the Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org), Council of Better Business Bureaus (www.bbb.org) and the American Institute of Philanthropy (www.charitywatch.org).
4. Ask if the solicitor works for a commercial fundraiser and is being paid to solicit.
5. Avoid cash donations.
6. Avoid giving credit card information to a telephone solicitor or in response to a telephone solicitation.

The Guide is available on the Attorney General’s website at http://ag.ca.gov/charities/ or a copy can be requested by writing to the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, P.O. Box 903447, Sacramento, CA 94203-4470.

The report can be found at:
http://ag.ca.gov/charities/publications/2007cfr/cfr2007.pdf

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