Donating in Distress: NC Charities and Non-profits Take a Big Hit in 2013-14

Donating in Distress: NC Charities and Non-profits Take a Big Hit in 2013-14

By / State News / Wednesday, 03 December 2014 05:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : November 25th, 2014 - North Carolinians cut back even more on charitable giving for the second year in a row, according to new statistics from the NC Secretary of State’s Office.
The just released 2013-2014 North Carolina Secretary of State Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division Annual Report states that charities licensed by the State collected $21,437,796.33 during the 12 month period recorded.
That amount is lower than in 2012-2013 when North Carolinians gave over $32 million. It is also the lowest annual amount collected in the past four years.
Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall thanked people who did find the resources in their budgets to continue giving to good causes.
“Clearly, we are seeing that North Carolina households are still under a great deal of economic pressure,” Secretary Marshall said Tuesday. “I thank everyone who is continuing to finds ways to support the non-profits out there that are trying to accomplish good works.”
The 2013-2014 report also shows that from the total grossed, charities netted $9,001,684.39 from the reported fundraising campaigns. Charities netted $16,251,956 from the total amount raised in 2012-2013.
This means that the difference in what was given for direct use by charities after paying fundraising and administrative costs was more than $7 million less this past year.
There was also a marked decrease in how many cents on each dollar given was netted by the charities and non-profits this past year. The net return by percentage for 2013-2014 was 41.99 percent. The net return by percentage in 2012-2013 was 50.53 percent, almost nine percent higher.
Secretary Marshall delivered news about the new report from the Raleigh Rescue Mission where employees with the Secretary of State’s Office have partnered with the charity in a holiday-themed “Christmas Groceries to Go” food drive.
She also added a homemade pumpkin pie to the Raleigh Rescue Mission’s current food drive for this week, “Gobbles to Go.”
“The numbers and percents we’re releasing today tell us that groups do need to do everything possible when they draw up fundraising contracts to make sure every cent possible is going to their publicly stated mission,” Secretary Marshall said. “I think most of us in the public feel like we want to see the majority of every dollar given accomplishing something good for those in need.”
North Carolinians once again did a better job than people in other states in picking fundraising campaigns with lower overhead, where more cents of each dollar were passed on directly to the charities.
In national or multi-state fundraising campaigns that included North Carolina donors and so were reported to the Secretary of State’s Office, just over 37 percent of each dollar given passed directly to the charities after administrative costs.
“This means,” Secretary Marshall said Tuesday, “that when you look at the donation choices North Carolinians made, in general, we do continue to give to the more efficiently run fundraising campaigns than people in other states often do.”
This makes the fifth year in a row where the North Carolina-only donations percentage came in higher than its comparable multi-state counterpart percentage.
The annual report does not look at all charitable and non-profit causes operating in North Carolina. It specifically examines charitable groups that choose to use paid solicitors registered with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office. Data in the report breaks down how much of each dollar given by the public is taken for fundraising costs.
“I am the first to say this is a limited measure when it comes to charitable giving,” Secretary Marshall said. “But it is still one of the best snapshots we have when it comes to seeing how people are donating.”
“My biggest hope is that many of the non-profits and charities that are not included in today’s numbers are doing better than those reporting.” Secretary Marshall said. “We just do not know if that is the case.”
Although the donations amount is down for a second year, Marshall said the needs of North Carolina charities remain great. “It is incredibly important to make good giving decisions,” Marshall said. “I think all of us realize charities around the State are still facing big demands for their services.
“One thing this report certainly makes clear,” Marshall added, “is that if you have been holding back from making donations so far this year, now is the time to make that commitment and give to the charities you support and believe do a good job.”
A complete copy of the 2013-2014 Annual Report of the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division is also posted on the Department’s website. “You can go to www.sosnc.com and look at the middle of that website and you will see the link to our Charitable Solicitation Licensing section,” Marshall said.
Marshall did caution people that when they read through the reports they need to understand that sometimes there are valid reasons for charities and professional solicitors to have lower than expected numbers in the report.
“For example, educational efforts may be an integral part of the fundraising program they have designed, but in accounting terms those kind of efforts are considered to be part of the expenses,” Marshall said.
“Also, the Annual Report reporting date may come at the beginning of a fundraising cycle when expenses
are high but the donations have not started coming in,” she said. “Sometimes in those cases funds that get raised are going to be counted in the next report.”
To get a clear picture of any one group’s relationships with solicitors, Marshall urged donors to look at the group’s reports on file over a multi-year period. Also, donors may request financial information directly from the charity.
The Secretary of State’s Office licenses charities and non-profit organizations that:
• Use professional fundraising services for their solicitation campaigns,
• Compensate their officers,
• Or, raise at least $25,000 and are not exempt from state law for reasons such as being a religious institution or volunteer fire department or educational institution.
A great many charities in the state are covered by these exemptions, so the report does not reflect their fundraising or spending activities.
“The bottom line is, if you see something that upsets you about a charity you support,” Marshall said, “go find out what is happening in that organization before you make any other decision. Then you can decide if they have earned your continued support.”
People with questions about individual charities or charitable solicitation activities in general can call the Secretary of State’s Office, Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division at 1-888-830-4989 (toll-free in North Carolina) or 1-919-807-2214.
Source: NC Department of the Secretary of State.

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