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Solicitors pocket less – Decline in giving

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. – Professional solicitation firms raised slightly less money in North Carolina last year but gave much more of it to their nonprofit clients, a new report says.

Solicitors collected $75.5 million for charities through 411 fundraising efforts in the 13 months through June 30, down from $76.8 million a year earlier, says the report by the state Secretary of State’s Office.

Those firms — which include telemarketing and direct-mail firms, but not fundraising consultants – kept $35.6 million, or 47.1 percent of the total, down from $45.4 million, or 59.1 percent, a year earlier.

Solicitors gave $39.9 million, or 52.9 percent of the total, to their nonprofit clients, up from $31.4 million, or 40.9 percent, a year earlier.

Lionel J. Randolph, state charitable solicitation licensing supervisor, said he saw no significance in the big change in the share of funds kept by solicitors.

“It varies from year to year,” he says, and can change based on when the solicitors actually submit their final accounting reports to the state.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall says the slight decline in funds collected last year might reflect a “change in charitable giving patterns” in the face of relief efforts stemming from Hurricane Floyd.

Sixty-six solicitation firms handled the fundraising efforts that the state report tracks.

Those firms represent one-fourth of the fundraising firms licensed by the state. The remaining 75 percent are fundraising consultants whose work is not tracked in the report.

Groups that hired solicitors range from volunteer departments to large charities and nonprofits such as the UNC Center for Public Television and the National Audubon Society.

The share of dollars raised that solicitors kept ranged from 0.00 percent to 100 percent.

New Jersey-based solicitor Civic Development Group, for example, raised $354,766 for the Southeastern Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America and kept all but $26,607, or 7.49 percent.

Virginia-based Public Interest Communications Inc., on the other hand, gave the Christian Appalachian Project more than $1.4 million, or 89.86 percent, of the nearly $1.6 million it raised.

Marshall says data on the share of dollars pocketed by solicitors is open to interpretation.

Some charities use several solicitors or also conduct their own fundraising, she says, while some charities use their fundraising as a marketing vehicle but count their marketing costs as part of the cost of raising money.

“Sometimes, we see the same charity having very different totals from year to year,” she said in a prepared statement. “There are many factors to consider, so we urge the public to study charities that interest them and find the answers to whatever questions they have.”

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