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Charities get less than half of cash given

Charities get less than half of cash given

Professional fundraisers kept more than half of the money raised in New York for charities in 2011,

Professional fundraisers kept more than half of the money raised in New York for charities in 2011, according to a report from the New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.

In 2011, about $4.7 million was raised for Capital Region based charities, which received less than 40 percent of the funds. The rest of the money went to the professional fundraisers, including the Scotia-based Capital District Callers Inc. and the Clifton Park-based Nordel Publishing Inc.

“New Yorkers expect that their hard-earned dollars will make a difference and not line the pockets of for-profit fundraisers at the expense of charity,” state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a news release.

By the numbers

Totals for 4 charities

• Saratoga County Deputy Sheriff’s PBA — $37,030 raised — $16,663.50 to the charity

• Schenectady County Sheriff’s Benevolent Association — $22,755 raised — $6,826.50 to the charity

• Waterford Emergency Team Inc. — $46,484 raised — $23,242 to the charity

• Food Pantries for the Capital District Inc. — $333,838 raised — $200,303 to the charity

His office has issued more than a dozen subpoenas in connection with investigations targeting fundraising campaigns that have repeatedly not yielded much for certain charities.

“During this season of giving when so many are still struggling to recover from Sandy, the generosity of donors must be protected,” Schneiderman said. “With this report, New Yorkers will be equipped with important information to help them decide which charities to support and to help ensure their contributions further charitable programs and services.”

Voicemails to Capital District Callers and Nordel Publishing were not returned by Friday evening. A Google search for both companies failed to find a website.

The professional fundraiser for the Schenectady Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association reportedly raised about $31,800 in 2011, but just over $8,000 went to the charity. The breakdown for the Electric City Detachment of the Marine Corps League, which is based out of Schenectady and runs the local Toys for Tots program, got half of the $14,700 raised for it.

Part of the reason charities end up paying such a high percentage to the fundraisers is because they enter into flat fees or a per-call fee contract. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled it unconstitutional for states to limit the amount a charity may pay for fundraising.

It is also unconstitutional to require fundraisers to disclose how much they’re being paid when making a fundraising call. If asked, though, a caller is required to give truthful answers, including whom they work for and what they’re being paid to make the call.

The report is based on information from reports filed with the bureau. Last year’s results were comparable to the year before, when telemarketing campaigns raised $249 million and about 37 percent of that went to charities.

Information about charities can be found at the Attorney General’s website, www.charitiesnys.com.

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