Have you ever been contacted by a telemarketer who is soliciting for contributions on behalf of a charitable organization? Do you want to know how much of these contributions are going to the organization and how they are being spent? You should want to know. If only pennies were going to the named organization, more likely than not, you will not make that donation.
Within the most recent “Pennies For Charity” Report released by the Charities Bureau Office of the Attorney General, telemarketers reported raising over $302 million during 2014 for various charitable organizations (a 20% increase when compared to 2013). Did you know that historically, out of all contributions raised by telemarketers, less than 50% was given to the underlying charitable organizations?
As a donor, you may not be aware that you have the right to ask the following questions to the telemarketer:
- What activities/programs are being conducted by the organization?
- What is the name of the professional fundraiser as well as the individual who is making this call?
- How much of your donation will be given to the named charitable organization?
- How much is the telemarketer being paid for making this call?
When a telemarketer calls and asks you to make a charitable contribution, don’t give into the pressure to quickly hand over your credit card information, even if the organization has a benevolent name. There are several sites out there that will assist you in getting to know the organization you are looking to make a contribution to. A site such as CharityNavigator.org lists and evaluates thousands of non-profit organizations based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. Doing some research will also prevent you from donating to a fictitious or misleading organization.
Always remember, sometimes cutting out the middleman (telemarketer) and directly contacting the organization to make a charitable donation will be more beneficial. This will ensure you that 100% of your donation will go to the organization. Do not forget to ask the question, “How much of my donation will go to your programs/missions and how much will go to administrative functions?”
If you would like to learn more about this topic, please contact:
Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA
Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.