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Paterson — News

State Issues Warning on Bogus Charities

Press Release by NJ Div. of Consumer Affairs

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 • 10:38am

 

NEWARK, NJ – When the Garden State Law Enforcement Officers Association spent donors’ money during its most recent fiscal year, only 21 cents of each dollar went toward the organization’s stated mission, to help law enforcement personnel and their families.  The bulk of each dollar – 71 cents – was spent on fundraising.  The rest was spent on management and general expenses.  These numbers are consistent with the organization’s financial reports from the past three fiscal years.

By contrast, other charities registered to solicit in New Jersey dedicate much more of their expenses to programs that support their stated mission, and spend much less on fundraising.  For example, the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, dedicated 85 cents of each dollar spent in its last fiscal year toward programs assisting young cancer patients and their families.  Only 10 cents was spent on fundraising, and the remaining 5 cents on management and general costs.

As the holidays remind us to think of those in need, and the time for year-end tax-deductible charitable gifts approaches, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs reminds consumers: ‘Tis the Season to Investigate Before You Donate.

Bringing increased transparency to the ways non-profit organizations use donated money, the Division today released the latest list of New Jersey’s Top 10 Most Inquired-About Charities, with pie charts illustrating each charity’s spending during its most recent reported fiscal year.

“Especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when so many New Jerseyans are looking for meaningful ways to help their fellow residents, it is important to Investigate Before You Donate,” Attorney General Chiesa said.  “Before giving your hard-earned money to a worthy cause, you owe it to yourself – and those you are seeking to help – to learn about the charity.  Find out how much of your money will go toward actual charitable activities, and how much will be spent on other costs such as fundraising.  If you are not satisfied with the answers to these questions, take your donation somewhere else.”

The list of New Jersey’s Top 10 Most Inquired-About Charities is drawn from consumers’ calls to the Division’s Charities Registration Hotline, 973-504-6215. The list announced today provides information on the 10 charities most often asked about by consumers who called the Hotline during the six-month period from May through November 2012. A high number of inquiries may mean a charity solicited donations or held a campaign drive during the months in question.

“The Division of Consumer Affairs has made it easier than ever for consumers to do their homework and learn about charities before making a donation,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said.  “The best way to begin is by contacting the charity itself and asking basic questions about its activities and the ways donations are used.  Consumers are always welcome to call our charities registration hotline, or to download our free ‘Charities Registration’ smartphone app.  The State cannot require any nonprofit to spend more on actual charitable causes than it does on fundraising.  But we are fully committed to keeping charities transparent and accountable to the public.”

The Better Business Bureau’s Standards for Charity Accountability state that a charity should dedicate at least 65 percent of its expenses toward program activities, and no more than 35 percent toward fundraising. Consumers can compare that guideline with the expenditures reported by the charities for their most recent fiscal years.

Each of the Top 10 Most-Inquired-About Charities is listed below, beginning with those with the smallest percentage of their expenditures dedicated to charitable programs, according to their most recent fiscal year reports. Click on each charity's name to see the full pie chart and additional information

Garden State Law Enforcement Officers Association, of Manalapan

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011: $249,087

·        Charitable program expenses: 21.4 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 70.9 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 7.7 percent

Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, of Annandale, Virginia

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011: $42,785,416

·        Charitable program expenses: 36 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 52.1 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 11.8 percent

Cancer Support Services, of Dearborn, Michigan

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011: $10,663,091

·        Charitable program expenses: 49.6 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 44.7 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 5.6 percent

Paralyzed Veterans of America, of Washington, DC

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011: $114,656,518

·        Charitable program expenses: 61.7 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 31.4 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 6.9 percent

Disabled Veterans National Foundation, of Washington, DC

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011: $31,085,165

·        Charitable program expenses: 63.2 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 29.8 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 7 percent

Disabled American Veterans, of Cold Spring, Kentucky

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011: $116,591,022

·        Charitable program expenses: 66.8 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 27.8 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 5.4 percent

Wounded Warrior Project, of Jacksonville, Florida

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011: $58,399,545

·        Charitable program expenses: 67.1 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 24.9 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 8 percent

United Service Organization, of Arlington, Virginia

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011: $115,763,245

·        Charitable program expenses: 70.6 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 17.9 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 11.5 percent

Humane Society of the United States, of Washington, DC

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011: $129,217,427

·        Charitable program expenses: 77.8 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 18.8 percent

·        Management and general costs: 3.4 percent

Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation d/b/a Cancer Recovery Foundation of America and Cancer Conquerors, of Harrisburg, PA:

·        Total expenses for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2010: $9,064,686

·        Charitable fundraising expenses: 85.5 percent

·        Fundraising expenses: 10 percent

·        Management and general expenses: 4.5 percent

As part of its ongoing Investigate Before You Donate campaign, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs encourages New Jersey consumers to learn about charities before making a donation. For example:

·        Find out whether the charity is registered in New Jersey, or is exempt from having to register. (Certain religious and educational organizations, and charities whose annual income includes less than $10,000 in public contributions and fundraising, are exempt from having to register with the State.)

·        Find out how much the charity spent during recent fiscal years on program costs, management costs, and fundraising.

·        Learn about the charity's stated mission.

Consumers may obtain information about a charity in several ways. They can ask the charity itself (reputable charities encourage you to do so), or visit the charity's website.

Consumers can also obtain this information from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Visit the Division's Charities Registration page; call the Division's Charities Hotline at 973-504-6215 during regular business hours; or use the Division's free "New Jersey Charity Search" smartphone app.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.

 

 
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