Report finds telemarketers keep bulk of charity donations

Feb 28, 2014

The latest "Pennies for Charity" report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman shows telemarketers are raking in the dough.

Telemarketers registered in the state reported raising more than $249 million in 2012. Of that amount, Schneiderman says the telemarketers kept an average of 62 cents of every dollar raised.

"New Yorkers who open their hearts and wallets deserve to know how their hard-earned dollars are being spent. It's important that donors, when determining which charities to support, understand exactly how much will be spent on charitable programs and how much will be used to pay telemarketers salaries and other fundraising costs," Schneiderman says. 

In half of the nearly 600 campaigns reviewed, the charities got less than 30 percent of the funds raised.  In 91 cases, he says, telemarketers were paid more than the charities received.

To help ensure donations go to those in need, Schneiderman urges people not to feel pressured to give money over the phone. He suggests asking the telemarketer how much they're being paid and how much of your donation the charity is guaranteed.

"My goal is to help New Yorkers maximize the percentage of their donation that goes directly to those in need," he says. 

The attorney general also suggests giving to established charities, never giving cash, and reporting suspicious organizations. So far, three charities and one fundraiser have been shut down and additional investigations are expected.