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More Than Half of MA Charity Contributions Go To Paid Solicitors

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

 

December may be the season of giving, but the dollars Bay Staters donate during the holidays may not end up where the giver intended.

Massachusetts charities that hire professional solicitors received an average of 49 percent of the proceeds collected during charitable campaigns in 2011, according to a report released thi week by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Last year, professional solicitors collected more than $388 million, almost $21 million more than in 2010. However, of that amount, about $190 million ended up with the actual charities. This means that, on average, only 49 cents of every dollar that a professional solicitor collected was returned to the charity. This represents an increase from 2010 when an average of 45 cents of every dollar that a professional solicitor raised went back to the charity.

“It is important to support the Massachusetts charities that benefit residents of the Commonwealth who are in need, especially during the holiday season,” Coakley said.

“We encourage consumers to ask questions and do basic research in order to know exactly where their money is going and how it is going to be used to ensure that every dollar is spent appropriately.”

Professional solicitors are paid by organizations to solicit donations from the public and are required by statute to register with the Attorney General’s Office.
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 cannot be directly regulated by the Commonwealth. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office issues this report as a source of information for consumers and a reminder that those seeking donations may be paid professional solicitors.

The Report on Professional Solicitations for Charity outlines the financial results reported by fundraisers and charities regarding campaigns conducted in Massachusetts during calendar year 2011. 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.

In this year’s report, the Attorney General’s Office made an effort to more closely examine the practice of professional solicitation and to better understand why some charities may receive a low percentage of the monies raised by professional solicitors.

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. The Attorney General’s Office has a variety of tools to address deceptive practices, which are outlined in the report.

The Attorney General’s Office also 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 Attorney General’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-963-2101. 

 

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