Donors and charities beware

By Todd Cohen

Charitable solicitation in North Carolina is running amok.

Of the more than $194 million raised by paid solicitors in the fiscal year ended last June 30, solicitors kept over half, says a new report by Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

She says charities’ “efficiencies” in using paid solicitors are “disturbing,” and urges North Carolinas to visit her website for information “to make smart choices when giving.”

But her website offers little to help charities and donors make smart decisions, respectively, about whether to hire a solicitation firm or give when one calls.

The site simply features her annual report, which is slow to load, cumbersome to use, and contains little useful information and lacks historical data about solicitation firms and charities that hire them.

To earn donors’ trust, charities must better understand and disclose how much of each contributed dollar solicitation firms pocket.

And before giving money when solicitation firms call, donors should ask if the caller works for a solicitation firm, and how much of the contribution the firm will keep.

And instead of leaving charities and donors to fend for themselves, Marshall’s office should provide more informed and comprehensive data, and make it easier to use.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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