In honor of Giving Tuesday and the holiday season, New York Attorney General Letitia James has released a report analyzing data from 2022 charitable fundraising campaigns. The report looks at trends in the nonprofit sector, provides guidance and tips for donors and gives charities information about their fundraisers’ performance.
The annual “Pennies for Charity: Fundraising by Professional Fundraisers” report found that charitable giving declined approximately $221 million from 2021 revenues.
In 2022, professional fundraisers received nearly a quarter of every dollar donated to the charities that hired them — a total of more than $347 million in fees and expenses. Professional fundraisers are outside, for-profit contractors often hired by charities to run campaigns. In 48% of campaigns, charities received less than 50% of funds raised, with professional fundraisers retaining the rest and in 17% of campaigns expenses exceeded revenue and cost charities over $11 million.
Brooklyn Org CEO Dr. Jocelynne Rainey told BK Reader las month that though Brooklyn is home to 29% of New York City's nonprofits, Brooklyn receives just under 8% of funding, according to a 2019 report from Baruch College. This makes days like Giving Tuesday even more crucial.
“New Yorkers who generously donate to charities should do so without any fear of their money being misappropriated or mishandled,” said James. “I encourage anyone looking to donate this winter to consult our tips for charitable giving and ensure that their gifts are put to good use. My office will continue to work throughout the season to protect New Yorkers from fraud and ensure transparency in the operation of charitable organizations.”
The report also includes tips for donors to follow before donating over the phone, by mail, or online to ensure that their contributions reach the causes they intend to support. Important tips to keep in mind include:
- If you are contacted by a telemarketer, ask questions to make an informed decision. New York law requires telemarketers soliciting for charities to make certain disclosures to potential donors and prohibits them from making false, misleading, or deceptive statements to contributors. Telemarketers are required to tell potential donors their names, which professional fundraiser employs them, and if the telemarketer is getting paid. Donors may also ask what percentage of their donation will go to the fundraiser for fees and expenses.
- If you receive a direct mail charitable appeal, verify the soliciting organization. Does the organization have a name that sounds like a well-known charity? Double-check — is it the one you think it is? Does the mailing claim to follow up on a pledge that you do not remember making? Does it clearly describe the programs that the charity plans to fund with your donation?
- If you are donating online, do your research first. Donating online or via an app is convenient for donors and can be cost effective for a charity. But before hitting “send,” donors should check whether a campaign is legitimate. Below are steps to take before donating online:
- Some online platforms that host groups and individuals soliciting for causes do not obtain permission from charities, or vet those charities that use their service. Donors should only give to campaigns conducted by people they know. Donors also should check what fees they will be charged and make sure that the charity has given its permission for the use of its name or logo. The charity’s site or the charity should confirm that the charity has approved the campaign.
- When donating online, make sure the website is secure. The web address should start with “https.” Unless the charity uses a separate payment site, the web address should match that of the organization that will receive the donation.
- Be wary of email solicitations that ask you to click a link or open attachments. These could be phishing scams that try to trick you into giving out your credit card number, Social Security number, or other confidential information.
More information about OAG’s Charities Bureau and the organizations it regulates may be found online. If you believe an organization is misrepresenting its work or that a scam is taking place, please contact OAG’s Charities Bureau at Complaints@ag.ny.gov or (212) 416-8401.