Donor beware: Holiday charities that aren’t as charitable
Secretary of State Kim Wyman wants Washingtonians to know that while it’s the season of charitable giving, it’s also the season of making money — even for those with the best intentions.
“We have about 108 commercial fundraisers that are operating in Washington state right now,” Wyman told Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio. “We want people to be aware that just because an organization calls and says they are raising money for the American Cancer Society, all of your money may not go to the American Cancer Society.”
Out of those 108 commercial fundraisers, only 11 give more than 80 percent of the funds they raised to charities, Wyman said.
“But we have 35 that gave less than 20 percent,” Wyman said. “… One gave negative 17 percent … they raised $42,000 and their operating costs were $7,000 more than what they raised. We have another organization that was negative 54 percent and they raised money on behalf of five charities.”
Commercial fundraisers and Washington charities
Commercial fundraisers are not the same as the charities they raise money for. Some of the raised funds is used to pay themselves. Commercial fundraisers keep an average of 50 percent of the donated money they collect, Wyman said.
“Charities actually welcome this because if a commercial fundraiser goes and does some fundraising, they are getting money they did not have to work for,” Wyman said.
“If you give a dollar to a charity, you want the majority of the money to go to the charity and go to service,” she said.
The Secretary of State is running a “Give Smart” campaign to warn Washingtonians that their donations to charities and non-profits don’t always go where they intend.
When asked for donations by charities, Wyman suggests:
- Ask the organization to identify themselves, where their address is, and if they are earning money from your donation.
- Use the Secretary of State website to verify valid, registered charities.
- The SOS website also features information on how donations are used by commercial fundraisers. See how your donation is spent.