Pocketing charity – Plunge in fundraising

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. – Professional solicitation firms raised a lot less money in North Carolina this year and gave a lot less of it to their nonprofit clients, a new report says.

Solicitors – including direct-mail and telemarketing firms but not fundraising consultants – raised nearly $66.6 million in 437 campaigns in 2000-01, down from nearly $75.5 million in 411 campaigns in 1999-2000, according to the annual report of the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Section in the state Secretary of State’s Office.

Of the total raised, charities kept $26.78 million, or nearly 40.2 percent, down from nearly $39.9 million, or nearly 52.9 percent a year earlier –meaning that the share kept by solicitors grew to nearly 60 percent this year from about 47 percent a year earlier.

Under state law, the Secretary of State’s Office registers and regulates only groups that use the services of a professional solicitation firm or raise more than $25,000 in donations a year. Religious charities are not included.

“Charities do seem to be facing a challenging time in our state,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said in releasing the report. “It means that you, the charitable donor, need to do your homework and make smart choices more than ever.”

Marshall’s office also unveiled a revamped Web site that provides tips, news and other resources for donors in addition to data the site has published in the past listing solicitation firms and the charities they represent.

“Charities and good causes are under a lot of financial pressure right now – but you can help,” Marshall says. “And you can help without accidentally getting ripped off by a scam, or by worrying about how effective your gift will be.”

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