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Paid Fundraisers Continue To Keep Lion's Share Of Charitable Donations

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

December 11, 2012

Every year Vermonters donate millions of dollars to charitable causes, whether by giving to organizations helping those recovering from disasters like Hurricane Sandy, or through an annual gift to a favorite cause. Many Vermonters, however, are unaware of how much of their donation may go to a paid fundraiser and not to the charity of their choice.

Today, the Attorney General’s Office is releasing a report on its website analyzing fundraising data for the past two fiscal years, July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2012. According to the over 700 financial reports filed with the Attorney General’s Office during this time period, Vermonters gave over $6 million to charitable causes through paid fundraisers. Of this total, however, over two-thirds, or more than $4 million stayed with the paid fundraisers. The charities, meanwhile, received less than a third of the total donations.

“Vermonters should be sure to stay informed about where their donated dollars are going,” Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said. “People should find out which campaigns are being run by the charities themselves, and which are being run by paid fundraisers.”

Charities should also educate themselves. Attorney General Sorrell highlighted the fact that “Vermont charities using paid fundraisers tend to keep a smaller percentage of the money Vermonters donated when compared to out-of-state charities using paid-fundraisers.” In fact, the 70 Vermont charities that contracted with paid fundraisers saw the paid fundraiser, on average, keep almost 75% of the total donated amount. For example, the top paid fundraiser for Vermont charities, FireCo, raised over $1.4 million but retained more than $1.1 million of Vermonters’ donations, 78% of the total giving.

The Attorney General’s Office urges Vermonters to become more informed donors by:

  • Checking the breakdown of contributions between fundraisers and charities on the Attorney General’s website: at http://www.atg.state.vt.us/issues/consumer-protection/charities.php
  • Asking solicitors to explain what portion of a donation goes to support charitable programming and what portion goes to fundraising.
  • Exploring a charity’s website or requesting a brochure or other document explaining the mission of the charity and how contributions are used.
  • Visiting other organizations’ websites that rate charities based on various factors, including their fundraising expenses. See the Attorney General’s website for details.
  •   Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.