For Immediate Release - November 30, 2015

Ahead of "Giving Tuesday," AG Healey Releases Report on Charitable Donations in 2014

Report Finds Increase in Proceeds Going to Charity; AG Cautions Best Way to Support Causes is Direct Donations to Charitable Organizations

BOSTON – Massachusetts charities that hire professional solicitors received an average of 62 percent of the proceeds collected during charitable campaigns in 2014, according to a report released today by Attorney General Maura Healey. AG Healey also offered tips for consumers to give wisely tomorrow on “Giving Tuesday,” a global day dedicated to the celebration of generosity, and throughout the holiday season.

“We always encourage people to give generously to the charities that benefit those in need in our state,” AG Healey said. “During this season of giving, we also remind people to do their due diligence before they donate their dollars to ensure they are maximizing the impact of their contributions and that donations are going to a worthy cause.”

Professional solicitors are paid by charitable 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 2014. 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 Supreme Court decisions concerning First Amendment free speech rights, 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 2014, professional solicitors collected more than $543 million, which is more than $154 million more than collected in 2013. Of the amount collected by professional solicitors in 2014, more than $338 million ended up with the actual charities. This means that, on average, 62 cents of every dollar that a professional solicitor collected was directed to the charity. This reflects an increase over 2013, when an average of 47 cents of every dollar that a professional solicitor raised went back to the charity.

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.

Professional solicitors are required by law to disclose certain information when asked and, in general, may not 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 2014 and accompanying documents can be found online. Reports from previous years are also available on the Attorney General’s website.