New report shows charitable giving campaigns raised over $1.4 billion in 2022, a decline of more than 10% from 2021
√ Professional fundraisers earned $347 million, nearly a quarter of total charitable campaign donations
In advance of GivingTuesday and the holiday season, New York Attorney General Letitia James released her annual “Pennies for Charity: Fundraising by Professional Fundraisers” report. The report analyzes data from 2022 charitable fundraising campaigns submitted to the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) charities bureau by professional fundraisers. The report looks at trends in the nonprofit sector, provides guidance and tips for donors, and gives charities information about fundraisers’ performance.
This year’s report found that, in 2022, professional fundraisers received nearly a quarter of every dollar donated to the charities that hired them – a total of more than $347 million in fees and expenses. An analysis of 572 campaigns conducted by professional fundraisers in 2022 found that charities received 77% of donations, a notable increase from the 73% return in 2021. Professional fundraisers are outside, for-profit contractors often hired by charities to run campaigns.
“New Yorkers who generously donate to charities should do so without any fear of their money being misappropriated or mishandled,” the attorney general said.
She added, “I encourage anyone looking to donate this winter to consult our tips for charitable giving and ensure that their gifts are put to good use. My office will continue to work throughout the season to protect New Yorkers from fraud and ensure transparency in the operation of charitable organizations.”
A press release stated, “New York is home to many diverse charitable organizations and institutions, which, like all parts of our society, faced many challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. The report found that charitable giving declined approximately $221 million from 2021 revenues.”
The OAG reported these other findings:
•In 273 campaigns – 48% – charities received less than 50% of funds raised, with professional fundraisers retaining the rest.
•In 97 campaigns – 17% – expenses exceeded revenue and cost charities over $11 million. These are higher numbers than reported in last year’s “Pennies for Charity” report.
This year’s “Pennies for Charity” report is based on information from professional fundraisers’ reports filed with the charities bureau for campaigns conducted in 2022. Professional fundraisers must register with the charities bureau, and their financial reports must break down their campaigns’ earnings and expenses. The report and the searchable “Pennies for Charity” database containing the results of specific campaigns are posted on the charities bureau website.
The report also includes tips for donors to follow before donating over the phone, by mail, or online to ensure that their contributions reach the causes they intend to support. A link to the report and donor guide is above, but important tips to keep in mind include:
•If you are contacted by a telemarketer, ask questions to make an informed decision. New York law requires telemarketers soliciting for charities to make certain disclosures to potential donors, and prohibits them from making false, misleading or deceptive statements to contributors. Telemarketers are required to tell potential donors their names, which professional fundraiser employs them, and if the telemarketer is getting paid. Donors may also ask what percentage of their donation will go to the fundraiser for fees and expenses.
•If you receive a direct mail charitable appeal, verify the soliciting organization. Does the organization have a name that sounds like a well-known charity? Double-check – is it the one you think it is? Does the mailing claim to follow up on a pledge that you do not remember making? Does it clearly describe the programs that the charity plans to fund with your donation?
•If you are donating online, do your research first. Donating online or via an app is convenient for donors and can be cost-effective for a charity. But before hitting “send,” donors should check whether a campaign is legitimate. Below are steps to take before donating online:
√ Some online platforms that host groups and individuals soliciting for causes do not obtain permission from charities, or vet those charities that use their service. Donors should only give to campaigns conducted by people they know. Donors also should check what fees they will be charged and make sure that the charity has given its permission for the use of its name or logo. The charity’s site or the charity should confirm that the charity has approved the campaign.
√ When donating online, make sure the website is secure. The web address should start with “https.” Unless the charity uses a separate payment site, the web address should match that of the organization that will receive the donation.
√ Be wary of email solicitations that ask you to click a link or open attachments. These could be phishing scams that try to trick you into giving out your credit card number, Social Security number, or other confidential information.
√ More information about OAG’s charities bureau and organizations it regulates may be found online. If you believe an organization is misrepresenting its work or that a scam is taking place, contact OAG’s charities bureau at [email protected] or 212-416-8401.
This report was authored by Director of Registration and Fundraising Section Hanna Rubin and Fundraising Supervisor Siobhan Blank of the charities bureau. Data analysis was completed by Data Analyst Anushua Choudhury of the research and analytics department. Design and layout were created by Graphic Designer Rachel Castro. Administrative Assistant Trainee Amanda Giminiani reviewed the final report and its findings. The charities bureau is led by Bureau Chief James Sheehan and Deputy Bureau Chief Karin Kunstler Goldman. The charities bureau is a part of the division for social justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.