State Report: Local Charities Give More Than 70% of Funds They Raise To Fundraising Firms

Six Oswego County non-profits have gotten just 28 cents of every dollar that people assumed they were donating to those groups in the last four years, according to new data from the state.

The state Attorney General’s office has issued its annual report on professional fundraising firms who raise money for local organizations, called “Pennies for Charity”.

According to the report, fewer than 10% of all charities received 65% of the money raised on their behalf by professional firms.  The Better Business Bureau says 65% should be the standard charity take of fundraising receipts.

Most non-profits who employ outside firms for fundraising campaigns keep between 20-40% of the money collected.  Some even lose money, when the fee for the fundraising firm exceeds the amount raised and collected.

Six non-profits based in Oswego County used professional fundraising firms in the past four years, according to the report.  Four are police-related non-profits while the other two are youth sports organizations in Central Square.

None earned more than 35% of the proceeds.

The unions for officers in Fulton (the Fulton Police Benevolent Association) and Oswego (the Lake City Police Club) earned 35% in all four years.  Each used the firm Badge Publications for their fundraising.

The Sheriff’s Silver Star Association, the union representing sheriff’s deputies, earned between 23% and 26.29% over the past four years, using the firm Stage Door Music Productions to promote and sell an annual fundraising concert.

The Oswego County Lodge of the Fraternal Order of the Police appeared to actually lose money or barely break even in two fundraising drives with two different firms, taking in $5,000 in 2008 but having more than $12,000 in uncollected pledges, and taking in about $15,000 in 2005, with more than $12,000 in uncollected pledges.  The two drives resulted in pledges of more than $80,000.

Central Square Pop Warner and Central Square Recreation Baseball each used a firm called Municipal Marketing for a pair of fund drives, earning between 23% and 35%.

In all, the six non-profits raised about $888,000 over the four years, and received about $251,000 — 28.31% of what was pledged.

In the past, charities have said the fundraising firms do for them what they cannot do for themselves, so the service is worth what they pay.

The Attorney General’s office urges people to ask firms seeking donations how much of their money will go to the charity and how much to the fundraising firm.

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The table does not include uncollected pledges to the Oswego County Lodge of the Fraternal Order of the Police of $12,678 in 2008 and $12,908 in 2005.