BUFFALO, N.Y. -- When you give your own money to a charity, do you ever think about where it's going? According to the New York State Attorney General, only about two-thirds of the money donated to non-profit charities last year in New York went to the organizations.
Tuesday night, 2 On Your Side found out where the rest of your money is going and how you can find out for yourself.
"You really want to make sure that money is going to a worthy cause," says Melanie McGovern, Communications Director with the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.
The Pennies for Charity report shows how much money charities keep when an outside company - a professional fundraiser - is involved. This year's report shows that for the nearly one-thousand fundraising campaigns done either all or in part last year by professional fundraisers, charities kept 69-percent of the money while 31-percent went to those professional fundraisers.
McGovern says if in doubt, do your research.
"It's always good just to ask that fundraiser, who's calling you? How much of that dollar is actually going to that cause? If they can't tell you, if they immediately change the subject, if they're trying to pressure you into making that donation, what we tell people is just to hang up, and do your research on your own, and if you find that charity is giving that amount that they say they are, then feel free to donate,” says McGovern.
To check a charity, just go to charitiesnys.com and click on Pennies for Charity. You can search by region. Go to Western New York, and you'll get the list for our area. You'll see, for example, that in 2017, the Orleans County Deputy Sheriff's Association only kept 25-percent of the money raised by the professional fundraisers at Spotlight Music Productions. In contrast, that same year, the International Institute of Buffalo kept 76-percent of the money In Any Event WNY raised for it.
"You always want to look at, and again, it's in BBB charity reports, what the overhead is. How much is that Executive Director making? How much are they spending on fundraising telemarketers? What are their expenses? Are they bringing in a million dollars, but then spending 700-thousand to raise money? So, you really want to look at that before you donate absolutely because, yeah again, you want that money to go to that charity,” McGovern says.