89.1 WEMU

Professional Fundraisers Tend To Keep More Than They Donate, Report Shows

Apr 11, 2017

Donation Box
Credit Don DeBold / flickr.com

The charities you donate to may not be getting all of the money you send to them.

A new report shows that many professional fundraisers – organizations used by charities to solicit on their behalf – keep a large portion of the donations you give. 

The Michigan Attorney General’s fifth annual Professional Fundraising Charitable Solicitation Report shows that an average of 39 percent of total donations to fundraisers actually reached their designated charity.  The other 61 percent went to the professional fundraisers. 

The Better Business Bureau says fundraisers should not keep more than 35 percent of the donations they receive.

Megan Hawthorne is a spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office.  She said the best way to make sure your donation is going to your charity, is to donate directly.

“Not to say that those fundraisers shouldn’t be able to make their money, but they should be honest with how much is going to the charity,” Hawthorne said. 

Charities use professional fundraisers for things like telemarketing and sending mail solicitation.  It can help a charity increase its donations, but Hawthorne said, “I know a lot of people…they want to see that money go to the charity, not to the fundraiser.”

The Attorney General’s office recommends doing research before giving money to a fundraiser and not letting yourself feel pressured to give right away.

“Make sure you ask questions when they call,” Hawthorne said.  “Ask how much of the donation actually goes to the charity.  If they’re vague or kind of try to avoid answering your question, you know you don’t have to give money at that time.”

The best way to make sure your charity of choice is getting 100 percent of your donation?  Donate directly, Hawthorne said. 

You can view the full report here

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org