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Washington residents are among most charitable, but there’s a catch

Washington loves to give. Northwest residents are fairly charitable. But that also means they have to be on guard about who they give their well-intentioned money to.

November 27 was Giving Tuesday — a day to donate to good causes. Washington could be among the most targeted regions for the special day. The state recently ranked among the top 10 most charitable states in America by WalletHub. Washington comes in at No. 8. It’s by far the most giving in the Northwest, ahead of Oregon (No. 17) and Idaho (No. 38). Breaking it down further, Washington ranks 23rd in the country for charitable giving, and ninth for volunteering.

In case you’re wondering, Minnesota is the goody two-shoes of nation with its No. 1 rank.

But with all this giving and do-gooding, there is a problem. A lot of organizations aren’t so much a charity, as they are a for-profit collection service that does not behave as charitable as the good causes they work for. A large bulk of their funds go into overhead and their own business, however.

Some who do this are known as commercial fundraisers. It’s their business to collect money for charities. The benefit is that charities don’t have to worry about the task, and spend time and resources on getting funds. But not all commercial fundraisers are equal.

“Just as a consumer, if someone asks you for money, for a charity, you can ask them follow up questions,” Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman told KIRO Radio. “Like are they a commercial fundraiser. They have to, by law, tell you that. If they are, you can ask them how much of your dollar is going to go to the charity. And they have to tell you that, too.”

There’s also a handful of organizations, even charities, that spend almost all, if not entirely, of the money they collect on overhead.

“We have a small percentage, but a percentage of the commercial fundraiser who go into the negative. We have one as high as 47 percent – so they were negative 47 percent in their costs,” Wyman said.

There is a charity section of the Washington Secretary of State website. It lists every commercial fundraiser in the state – just short of 100 of them. The information listed there shows who they raise money for, and how much gets through to the good causes.

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