AG says hired fundraisers' expenses can cut charities' take
Because if it's a professional fundraiser asking for your money, they say, there's a good chance the solicitor is keeping most of it.
Many familiar names are in the report, from such national groups as Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International to local police and firefighter organizations. The percentage of proceeds that went to the nonprofits ranged from zero to 100 percent.
"What we draw from that is that in those campaigns, the fundraiser is really just doing the campaign in order to support its business."
When a fundraiser calls, people need to ask how much of their donation is going to the charity, Edwards said. "People work very hard for the money that they earn, and they really want to make sure that this money goes to the organization and goes to the purpose that they're supporting."
It was the same for a 2012 campaign for the Natural Resources Defense Council Inc., which raised $348,708. Donor Services Group listed expenses of $408,870, a net loss of $60,166.
"What they're saying is it cost them $290,000 to raise $269,000," Edwards said. "That doesn't seem like a particularly strong business model."
She said there are legitimate costs in raising money. "But to have it be 80 percent, 90 percent, 100 percent of the money being raised? It's significant."
"And we do raise concerns with the local organizations ... that we really think this is using their good name and their good reputation, and it's not for enough of a financial gain for them as a charity to allow their good name to be used."
But some local organizations say the numbers don't tell the whole story.
FireCo LLC conducted a campaign for Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire in 2012, raising $343,824.90. It reported expenses of $290,591, including $136,046 in salaries, according to the report.
David Lang is president of PFFNH. "The public wants police officers and firefighters doing their job on the street, not raising money for the good things they do," he said. "In order to do that, you need to hire a professional to do that."
Still, Lang said the PFFNH no longer uses a professional fundraiser; he said changes such as the "Do Not Call" list and caller ID have made telemarketing less effective.
Lang shares Edwards' concerns on that score. He said there are organizations in the report he's never heard of, including the Firefighters Charitable Foundation and the Association for Firefighters and Paramedics.
Lang would rather see the AG's Office delve deeper into what some of these "charities" are.
"We need stronger enforcement," he said. "We need a big stick to make sure that the people at their homes are not being taken advantage of."
The report lists a 2012-13 campaign that raised $172,464. Total expenses were $169,977, and the amount that went to the AMC was $2,486.09 - just 1.44 percent.
Morrow also said AMC contracts with Comnet Marketing Group not only for fundraising, but also to conduct membership drives. "We do a lot of talking to former members, asking them to rejoin," she said.
"Telemarketing is a tiny portion of what we do, but it does efficiently identify people who haven't given before who'd like to give," she said. "And it does reach out to people who do like to give after having spoken to someone."
Mallios said NHPA's contract with Police Publications Inc. has served it well in the past. But he said the board recently decided to do its fundraising in-house instead.
The NHPA is looking at events such as benefit tournaments that would bring local police officers into direct contact with those in their communities, he said.
Don't be discouraged
Edwards said she doesn't want the new reports, which she hopes to issue quarterly, to discourage charitable giving.
Giving locally, Edwards said, "is a wonderful start."
"And in New Hampshire, we have more than 9,000 charities.... People can find a charity here to do just about anything they want to donate to.". A copy of the report can be found at : doj.nh.gov/charitable-trusts/professional-fundraisers.htm.