A commercial fundraiser is a person or corporation paid by a charity to raise money on the charity's behalf. The charity pays the for-profit business either a flat fee or a percentage of the donations collected in the charity's name.
By law, the California Attorney General oversees the activities of commercial fundraisers, which must register with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts prior to soliciting in California and file annual financial reports.
By using the CFR Search link, you may search the commercial fundraiser database by the name of the commercial fundraiser or the charity on whose behalf solicitations have been made. Here you may view copies of unaudited reports scanned exactly as filed by the commercial fundraiser. There is no federal or state law that requires commercial fundraisers to prepare audited financial reports. The reports available on the website are for report years 2005 and older. In 2005, the Registry implemented a new automated database system. To view current information for registered commercial fundraisers in the new automated database, please use the new Registry Search feature.
Historically, use of a commercial fundraiser has meant higher costs for a charity. Most of the over 120,000 charities registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts do not employ commercial fundraisers to solicit donations on their behalf. Historical figures show that a campaign conducted by a commercial fundraiser returns to charity, on average, less than 50 percent of the contributions it raises on a charity’s behalf. The remainder is retained by the commercial fundraiser as a fundraising fee and for reimbursement of expenses.
Commercial Fundraiser Reports
Every year the Attorney General’s office prepares a summary report based on the annual financial disclosure documents filed by commercial fundraisers for the calendar year. The report includes statistics for donations of both cash and used personal goods. The information in the report is derived from unedited reports filed by the fundraisers. See Publications to review the commercial fundraising annual reports since 1997.