For-profit telemarketers for 10 area charitable organizations – mostly representing fire and law enforcement charitable entities – collected $577,386.50 in 2011.
In all, those groups pocketed $137,882.53 of that money – or about 23.9 percent.
The payday led to a harsh rebuke from State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who announced Friday that his office “has commenced an investigation to determine if New York’s charities and fundraising laws have been violated.”
“Pennies for Charity, Where Your Money Goes: Telemarketing by Professional Fundraisers,” the annual fundraising report by the attorney general’s office, noted that even less money pledged locally goes to help charities than the statewide average of 38.5 cents on the dollar.
For Western New York’s eight counties, Schneiderman’s office found that the Erie Mounted Division Inc. received $3,485.52 – or 18 percent – of the $19,364 in donations collected from residential donors by the professional fundraiser Campaign Headquarters Inc. That was the lowest percentage in the region.
Other figures (rounded to the nearest dollar) released included:
• North Tonawanda Professional Firefighters Benevolent Association, $4,146 out of $21,584, 19 percent.
• Buffalo Police Benevolent Association Inc., $9,576 out of 47,882, 20 percent.
• Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Niagara County Inc. (residential donors), $15,678 out of $78,391, 20 percent.
• Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Niagara County Inc. (business donors), $15,664 out of $62,656, 25 percent.
• Erie Mounted Division Inc. (business donors), $20,860 out of $83,441, 25 percent.
• Southwestern Association Volunteer Firemen of New York, Inc., $15,259 out of $61,036, 25 percent.
• Western New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association, $18,604 out of $74,414; 25 percent.
• South Lockport Fire Company, Inc., $11,697 out of $46,787, 25 percent.
• Badge and Shield Club Inc., $22,913 out of $81,833, 28 percent.
“New Yorkers expect that their hard-earned dollars will make a difference and not line the pockets of the for-profit fundraisers at the expense of charity,” Schneiderman said. “During this season of giving, when so many are still struggling to recover from Sandy, the generosity of donors must be protected.
“With this report, New Yorkers will be equipped with important information to help them decide which charities to support and to help ensure their contributions further charitable programs and services.”
The investigation by the attorney general’s office is focusing on fundraising campaigns “that repeatedly result in little or no money going to charitable programs or services,” he said.
More than a dozen subpoenas have already been issued, according to Schneiderman, with more expected.