ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York Attorney General Letitia James released her annual “Pennies for Charity: Fundraising by Professional Fundraisers” report on Monday, which found that charities that hired professional fundraisers received 73% of donations in 2021, in line with the year prior and a small increase from 2019. Professional fundraisers were given the rest—earning more than $460 million.
“When New Yorkers make the generous choice to give to a charity, they trust that their money will be used responsibly,” said Attorney General James. “In advance of the holiday season and Giving Tuesday tomorrow, New Yorkers can rest assured that my office is working every day to protect their wallets and deliver the transparency they so rightly deserve. I encourage anyone planning to donate this season to consult our tips for charitable giving to ensure their thoughtful gift goes to the right place.”
New York is home to many diverse charitable organizations and institutions, which faced many challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the pandemic’s continuing economic impact and limitations on in-person events, donations rose to over $1.7 billion in 2021—an increase of almost $250 million from 2020 and over $400 million from 2019 pre-pandemic contributions.
Other report findings include:
- In 276 campaigns—42%—charities received less than 50% of funds raised, with professional fundraisers retaining the rest.
- In 96 campaigns—15%—expenses exceeded revenue and cost charities over $10 million. This is fewer cases than last year for both findings, AG James said.
This year’s “Pennies for Charity” report includes information from reports filed with the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Charities Bureau by professional fundraisers for charity campaigns conducted in 2021. Professional fundraisers must register with OAG and their financial reports must break down the campaign’s earnings and expenses. The report and the searchable Pennies for Charity database containing the findings of those reports are posted on the Charities Bureau website.
The report also lays out tips for donors to follow before donating over the phone, through mail, or online to ensure that their contributions reach the causes they intend to support.
Important tips to keep in mind:
- If you are contacted by a telemarketer, ask questions to make an informed decision.
- If you receive a direct mail charitable appeal, verify the soliciting organization.
- If you are donating online, do your research first.
The report was authored by Director of Registration and Fundraising Sections 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, under the supervision of Deputy Director Megan Thorsfeldt and Director Jonathan Werberg. 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 is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.