Do you know where your charitable donations are going? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Do you know where your charitable donations are going?

Posted: Updated:

On Giving Tuesday the numbers show Vermonters are pretty generous donating more than a million dollars to paid fundraisers last fiscal year.

We're talking about charities that hire third party companies to raise money for them. What we found is that in some cases 90 percent of your donation is going to pay that company and not the charity. This isn't fraud. It's a business deal. So, the best way to maximize your donation is to ask the right questions.

Around the holidays many people feel particularly generous, especially when it comes to charitable giving. But be careful because your cash may not be going where you intended.

"When people give, the attorney general wants them to give wisely," said Todd Daloz, Vermont assistant attorney general.

Eleven Vermont charities used paid fundraisers last fiscal year. These are third party companies paid to solicit money for some of your favorite causes. 

Of the nearly $740,000 donated only about $196,000 or 27 percent made it to local charities. They hire these companies to find new donors, reinvigorate past donors or increase fundraising manpower if they don't have the staff to do it. The price tag for each campaign varies and will dramatically affect how much of your money reaches the cause your supporting.
Donors to Vermont Public Interest Research Group get the least bang for their buck according the attorney general.

VPIRG used a company called Aria Communications to raise more than $32,000, but only about 9 percent made it to the environmental nonprofit and $29,000 went to pay their fundraiser. VPIRG says this telephone campaign accounted for just 1 percent of all the money it raises.

"There aren't any legitimate nonprofits that want to spend more money than they need to on fundraising and that's where I think this report does a real disservice. Neither the AG or anyone from his office contacted us to talk about how we go about fundraising and how we use this kind of service," said Paul Burns, VPIRG.

Special Olympics Vermont made the list twice. 

The Heritage Company got $90,000 from donors who had given in the past. Half of those donations made it to the charity. 

But in another campaign, Dial America raked in $58,000. Special Olympics only got to keep $6,600. The organization's CEO says that was a magazine drive. For every consumer who bought a subscription, Dial America donated a small sum to the Special Olympics which came out to about 12 percent of the total cash collected.

"These are the numbers of Vermont charities using paid fundraisers, these are the percentages they are getting and donors can make their own choices there from," said Daloz.

The best way to maximize your dollar is to be an educated donor.

Here's what you can do:

  • Make sure those who are asking for money clearly identify themselves and their employers.
  • Ask all solicitors to explain what portion of the donation goes to the charity and how much goes to fundraising. These companies are not legally required to answer but they have to tell you where you can find that information.
  • Follow-up by checking out the breakdown of contributions.
  • Click here for more information.

If you don't like the split...

"Give the money directly to the charity and cut out this middle entity, that's the best way to get the most money to the charitable cause," said Daloz.

The AG's office says fewer charities are using paid fundraisers and the money they're collecting through these companies has been cut in half. That's in part due to a law change three years ago that made it more expensive for paid fundraisers to operate in Vermont. The state says its also stepped up investigations into these third party companies and forced more settlements.

Statement from UVM Medical Center:

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.