For Immediate Release - December 02, 2014

AG Coakley’s Office Releases Report on Professional Solicitations for Charity in 2013

Report Finds that Charities Received 47 Percent of the Proceeds from Charitable Campaigns; AG Coakley Offers Tips for Consumers to Give Wisely On “Giving Tuesday”

BOSTON – Massachusetts charities that hire professional solicitors received an average of 47 percent of the proceeds collected during charitable campaigns in 2013, according to a report released today by Attorney General Martha Coakley. Tuesday, December 2 is the third annual “Giving Tuesday,” a global day dedicated to the celebration of generosity.

“We encourage people to give generously to charities, and to do some basic research to ensure that their donations are going to a worthy cause,” said AG Coakley. “During this holiday season and throughout the year, make sure you know where your donation is going, what it will be used for, and how much will ultimately benefit the charity and the mission that it supports.”

Professional solicitors are paid by organizations to solicit donations from the public and are required by statute to register with the AG’s Office. The Report on Professional Solicitations for Charity outlines the financial results reported by fundraisers and charities from campaigns conducted in Massachusetts during calendar year 2013. The report is published annually and is designed to assist residents in making informed decisions regarding their charitable giving by providing the public with information by calendar year on how much, on average, of every dollar raised by professional solicitors ends up with charities.

There is no requirement that a minimum percentage or amount of funds donated through a professional solicitation campaign be passed on to the charity. The amount of donations going to the charity may vary widely and by virtue of a Supreme Court decision cannot be directly regulated by the Commonwealth. As a result, the AG’s Office issues this report as a source of information for consumers and a reminder that those seeking donations may be paid professional solicitors.

In 2013, professional solicitors collected more than $388 million, which is $122 million more than in 2012. Of the amount collected by professional solicitors in 2013, about $184 million ended up with the actual charities. This means that, on average, only 47 cents of every dollar that a professional solicitor collected was directed to the charity. In 2012, an average of 34 cents of every dollar that a professional solicitor raised went back to the charity. The AG’s Office also issued a report examining paid solicitations for veterans’ charities which found that, on average, nearly 43 percent of total donations, or about $7.6 million, were directed to the charities.

In addition to looking at the results of the report, potential donors should consider asking basic questions when they are contacted by a professional solicitor, including:

  • Is the solicitor calling your home a volunteer or a professional fundraiser?
  • How much of every dollar donated will go to the charity?
  • Confirm the charity’s name and the services it offers to the public.

Professional solicitors are required by law to disclose certain information when asked and, in general, are not allowed to mislead prospective donors or misrepresent facts. While the most effective tool in preventing fraud is an educated donating public, the AG’s Office has a variety of tools to address deceptive practices, which are outlined in the “Deceptive Practices in Solicitation” section of the report.

The AG’s Office maintains annual financial statements from charities and professional solicitors that operate in this state, which are available for public inspection online. Consumers with concerns about solicitations they have received should contact the AG’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-963-2315.

For additional tips on donating, consumers may also review our Give Wisely Advisory.

The AG’s Report on Professional Solicitations for Charity in 2013 and accompanying documents can be found online. Reports from previous years are also available on the Attorney General’s website.

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