I would like to bring to your attention the following: I am frequently called by organizations requesting money for particular charities. Most of the time the charities are real and supporting valid causes such as: police, firefighters, medical research, animal rights, etc.

But, do you know how much of your donation actually goes to the charity? And do you even know what that particular charity does with money it has raised? Most of the money raised by fundraising companies in the name of charitable organizations goes to the fundraising company, not the charity. A report from the Attorney General’s Office in Vermont showed that on average less than 30% of the funds raised went to the charity. When I looked at the data posted on the VT Attorney General’s website, it is shocking how little money goes to the actual charities, sometimes as little as 0. 5 percent!

Some examples:

1. The fundraising company Outreach Calling recently raised $11,506 for the Firefighters Support Foundation. Only 10 percent ($1,150) of the funds raised went to the organization.

2. Donor Services Group, LLC is in the process of fundraising for the Humane Society of the US. Only 4. 2 percent of the $5,404 (or $227) went back to the charity.

3. Strategic Fundraising, Inc. raised $2,875 for Operation Smile. Only $14 went to the charity! The other $2861 went to the company hired to raise money.

These are only a few examples among hundreds. Some organizations have chosen their fundraising company better and receive a greater percent of the funds.

My suggestion before you donate is to look at the Vermont State Attorney General’s website to look at the list of charitable organizations and the percent of donations that go back to the charity. If you decide to donate to an organization, it may be best to contact them directly so that all of your money goes to the charity. Also, consider donating to local fire, police and rescue departments, animal shelters, etc.

Vermont AG charity website: http://www.atg. state. vt. us/issues/consumer-protection/charities. php

The data on fundraising in VT: http://www.atg. state. vt. us/issues/consumer-protection/charities/documents-an d-resources1/data-from-paid-fundraisers. php

The 2012 report: http://www.atg. state. vt. us/issues/consumer-protection/documents-and-resource s/2012-where-have-all-the-dollars-gone. php

You can research charitable organizations on websites like the Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org) and the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/) to find out how much of your donation goes to administrative, fundraising and program costs.

Also, I recommend checking out this site from the Tampa Bay Times that lists America’s Worst Charities based on fees paid to fee-based solicitors: http://www.tampabay.com/americas-worst-charities.

NATE MERRILL

Arlington