TRENTON – Continuing its effort to bring transparency to how charities spend donors’ dollars, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today released the latest list of New Jersey’s Top 10 Most Inquired-About Charities,” with pie charts illustrating each charity’s spending during its most recently reported fiscal year.
The list, updated bimonthly and available at: www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/#list , is drawn from consumer calls to the Division’s Charities Registration Hotline, 1-973-504-6215. The latest list provides information on the 10 charities most often asked about by consumers who called the hotline in May and June 2011.
According to its most recent fiscal report to the state, NJ Shares, Inc., a Ewing-based charitable organization, spent a remarkable 98 percent of its annual funds to help financially distressed New Jersey residents pay their energy bills. The organization dedicated the remaining two percent of expenditures to fundraising, management, and general costs.
On the other end of the spectrum is Cancer Support Services, a Dearborn, Michigan-based charitable organization that is also registered to solicit donations in New Jersey. According to its most recent fiscal year report, this organization spent only 24 percent of its funds in furtherance of its stated mission to help indigent persons suffering from cancer and to conduct public education. The bulk of its expenses – 69 percent – were dedicated to fundraising, with 7 percent to management and general costs.
“Our commitment, to pull back the curtain and show consumers just how charities are using their donation dollars, continues,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “How a charity spends its money, is possibly the single most important factor in determining whether that charity is worthy of a donation. And the reality is, potential donors often have no idea that certain organizations spend upwards of 70 or 80 cents of each donated dollar on nothing more than fundraising, while others spend nearly every penny on actual charitable programs. By shedding light on how charities spend money, we are encouraging New Jersey’s consumers to ‘investigate before you donate.'”
According to the Better Business Bureau’s “Standards for Charity Accountability,” a charity should dedicate at least 65 percent of its expenses toward program activities, and no more than 35 percent on fundraising. Consumers can compare that guideline with the expenditures reported by each of New Jersey’s Top 10 Most Inquired-About Charities for their most recent fiscal years.
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