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Michigan AG charitable solicitation report released; fundraisers kept over 60% in 2016

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LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette released the annual Professional Fundraising Charitable Solicitation Report Monday and the report shows 61 percent of funds raised went to the fundraisers.

The annual report identifies the total amount raised by professional fundraisers soliciting for charities in Michigan and reveals the percentage of money raised going to the charities.

According to the Better Business Bureau's fundraising standard says that fundraising spending should not exceed 35 percent.

"My hope is that this list empowers Michigan residents to find out where their donation is going because unfortunately some professional fundraisers keep most of the money they raise," Schuette said. "I still encourage residents to give to charity but want to help them to be able to give wisely."

From the Attorney General's Office:

What is a Professional Fundraiser?

Under Michigan law, a professional fundraiser is defined as a person or organization that solicits contributions on behalf of a charity in exchange for compensation. If a charity hires its own telemarketers or other fundraising staff in house, they are not considered “professional fundraisers.”

While hiring professional fundraisers and fundraising counsel may benefit certain charities, some professional fundraisers leave little of the donations for the intended charity, with some telemarketers pocketing 85 to 90 percent of the donated funds.

Professional fundraising is primarily done through telemarketing, but can also include mail campaigns, door to door solicitation and special events.

Michigan law requires professional fundraisers to submit the results of their campaigns to the Attorney General, which is included in this report.  The data includes the type of appeal conducted (mail, social media, telephone, etc.), gross receipts raised, the amount paid to the fundraiser, and the final amount and percentage that went to the charity.  Professional fundraisers licensed in Michigan are required to report these results, so the report includes data from charities across the country.  The report includes the results of fundraising campaigns reported to the Attorney General during the 2015 calendar year.

What Can You Do?

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team continues to highlight important measures consumers can take to protect themselves against bogus or wasteful charities:

  • Be cautious when someone calls and asks for a donation. Ask if the caller works directly for the charity or is a professional fundraiser hired for a particular campaign.
  • Ask how much of the donation actually goes to the charity. Beware of vague or unresponsive answers to specific questions about the charity and how money is used.
  • Don’t feel pressured to make an immediate donation. Avoid anyone that tries to make you feel guilty or uncomfortable with a donation. Go with your gut. Ask for a call back number and do your own research.
  • Remember that you can always hang up, research your own charities, and give directly to the charity. This way your charity will get 100 percent of your donation.