Fundraising costs jump

Elaine Marshall
Elaine Marshall

RALEIGH, N.C. – Reversing a trend in which charities netted larger shares of the money raised on their behalf, fiscal 2009 saw a jump in funds retained by third-party fundraising solicitors, a new report says.

In the year ending June 30, 2009, North Carolina charities that used third-party solicitors on average received only 40.77 cents of every dollar raised, says the report from the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office.

That’s down from 59.78 cents of each dollar nonprofits netted in the prior fiscal year.

That means that, on average, the firms hired to conduct fundraising efforts on behalf of charities in the state pocketed 59.23 cents of every dollar they raised.

That reversal occurred in a year that total fundraising by third parties grew by more than $42 million to reach a total of $142.9 million raised in the name of charities.

And yet, the total amount retained by nonprofits fell by almost $28 million.

“Sadly, these new numbers break a trend of the percentages getting better in years past,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall says in a statement. “It is extremely difficult to see exactly why this year’s plunge happened. We certainly hope no one in the nonprofit community is going to be satisfied at letting fundraising costs remain so high.”

More than one in 10 fundraising efforts netted nothing for charity, according to the report, but Marshall says some efforts are meant primarily to educate the public rather than raise money.

And in some instances, data may have been collected for the report before fundraising efforts were completed, she says.

However, the data should serve as a wake-up call to North Carolina donors, says Marshall.

“More than ever,” she says, “I urge people who give to charities to ask questions and research the groups that interest them to make sure their donations will be used wisely.”

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