The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

January 10, 2013

North Carolina, one of the 10 Most Generous States


SNAP

Thursday, January 10, 2013 — RALEIGH – North Carolinians were making their lists a little bit longer, but still checking them twice before giving to charities this past year according to new statistics from the N.C. Secretary of State’s office.

The just released 2011-2012 North Carolina Secretary of State Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division Annual Report states that charities licensed by the State collected $43,624,311.63 from North Carolinians during the 12 month period recorded.

That amount marks a significant recovery in giving from 2010-2011 when North Carolinians gave $26,716,762.16 according to that report.

Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall praised the almost $17 million jump in giving recently saying that “The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently declared North Carolina to be one of the 10 ‘Most Generous States’ in the nation, and our own study certainly reflects that as well.

“It is clear the people of our great state are doing everything they can to help those in need and to support good works in this challenging time,” Secretary Marshall said.

The 2011-2012 report also shows that from the total raised, charities directly received $23,694,858.08 from the fundraising campaigns. That averages to a 54.32 percent net return to the charities for each dollar donated.

These totals and percentages are substantial increases over last year’s charity numbers.

The net return to N.C. charities in 2010-2011 was $13,223,329.67. That number equaled a 49.49 percent return to groups from professionally run campaigns.

“These numbers and percents of return tell us that charities are making smarter contracts with fundraisers,” Secretary Marshall said, “and that more donations – both in terms of amount and percent – are reaching the charities after administrative costs are paid.”

North Carolinians also continued to do 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, only 42.55 percent of each dollar given passed directly to the charities after administrative costs.

“This means,” Secretary Marshall said recently, “that when you look at the donation choices North Carolinians made, in general, our folks gave to more efficiently run fundraising campaigns than people in other states did.”

This is the third year in a row where the North Carolina-only donations percentage came in higher than its comparable multi-state counterpart percentage.

The improved 2011-2012 numbers still do not match the all-time high percentage hit in 2007-2008 when the average return to charities was 59.78 percent of every dollar given.

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.

“This report should be looked at as a snapshot in time,” Secretary Marshall said.

“It gives us one solid look at how certain charities were doing both with the giving public and with their own contracted fundraisers during a 12 month period.

“The new numbers show us that North Carolinians are really trying to make good decisions about who to give to,” Secretary Marshall said, “and it tells us that our charities, overall, are continuing to make good business decisions in dealing with their fundraisers.”

Despite the rise in giving this year, Marshall said, the needs of charities in the state continue to be great.

“The good news is that we have seen this bounce-back on the part of generous donors,” Marshall said.

“But the reality is that our charities across the state are still facing huge needs for their services.

“We have many good North Carolina charities desperately needing support right now,”

Marshall added, “I hope this year’s report gives us enough good news to renew our spirits and encourage us all to look for more ways to help.”

The public can read detailed information on this year’s reported fundraising events online at the Secretary of State’s website. Marshall urged North Carolinians to use the data to make smart choices when giving.

“You can go to www.sosnc.com and go to our Charitable Solicitation Licensing section on the website and get case by case information. You can also find other information about charities and fundraisers operating in North Carolina and read what kind of questions to ask before you write that check,” Marshall said.

The charitable solicitation licensing section of the website offers advice on how not to get scammed and gives links that can help people make informed choices before they give.

There is also a Donor Checklist on the site that people can use as a guide to ask charitable solicitors questions to help determine if they want to donate to an organization.

A complete copy of the 2011-2012 Annual Report of the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division is also posted on the Department’s website.

Marshall did caution people to read through the reports with an understanding that sometimes there are valid reasons for charities and professional solicitors to have lower than expected numbers in the report.

“For example, educational efforts are an integral part of their fundraising program, but in accounting terms they 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 not a lot of donations have been received,” she said.

“In some of those cases funds that eventually are raised get counted in the next report.”

To get a clear picture of the group’s relationships with solicitors, Marshall said, donors interested in a given charity should try to look at its 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.

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, “get the information you need to 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.