New York charities that hired telemarketers to solicit money on their behalf in 2013 received less than half of the $302 million donated, according to a report issued Wednesday.
In some cases the costs of fundraising exceeded contributions.
On Long Island, groups that help people in need got to keep an average of 27 percent of the money raised in their names, according to the Pennies for Charity report issued by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Fundraisers collected a total of $8.9 million for 44 Long Island charities, but kept $6.5 million for themselves.
"New Yorkers who are generous enough to donate their hard-earned money to charity deserve to know how that money is really spent, including how much is used to pay for-profit telemarketers," Schneiderman said in a statement.
The data used to generate the report come from the for-profit telemarketing companies, which are required to provide fundraising information with Schneiderman's office each year.
In 2013, telemarketers raised $302.6 million for charities in New York, the largest amount of money ever raised in the dozen years the state has been issuing the report. Of that amount, $146.5 million, or 48.4 percent, went to the charities. The majority of the donated money, $156.1 million, or 51.6 percent, was paid to fundraisers to cover the costs of conducting the campaigns, according to the report.
In 282 out of the 573 campaigns to raise money, the charities retained less than 30 percent of the funds raised, according to the report. In 435 of the 573 campaigns, or 76 percent, the charities retained less than 50 percent of the funds collected.
Long Island charities that paid top dollar for telemarketing services included Peconic Bay Health System and Little Shelter Animal Adoption Center, both located in Suffolk County, according to the report.
Despite the high cost of telemarketing services seen in 2013, the share of funds going to charities in fact increased from the previous year. In 2012, only 38 percent of the money raised by New York telemarketers went to the charities.
Tips before giving
If you receive a call from a telemarketer and want to donate, ask the following questions.
What programs are conducted by the charity.
How much of the donation will be used for charitable programs.
Is the caller a paid telemarketer.
How much is the telemarketer being paid and how much is the charity guaranteed.
Only give to charities with which you are familiar.
Be wary of callers who pressure you to give or say they will send someone to your house to pick up a contribution. Worthy charities should give you time to decide.
Additional guidance is available at CharitiesNYS.com
Source: Charities Bureau Office of the Attorney General