NEWARK – When the New Jersey Police Officers Foundation spent donors’ money during its most recent fiscal year, only 11 cents of each dollar went toward the organization’s stated mission to provide support to other charities, and work for the advancement of the Italian-American community.  The bulk of each dollar – 87 cents – was spent on fundraising.  The remaining two cents were spent on management and general expenses.

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By contrast, of each dollar the Christian Appalachian Project spent during its most recently reported fiscal year, 91 cents went toward the group’s stated mission to provide physical, spiritual, and emotional support to poverty-stricken residents of the Appalachian region.  Five cents of each dollar went toward fundraising, and four cents toward management and general expenses.

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As the holidays remind us to think of those in need, and the time for year-end tax deductible charitable gifts approaches, the State Division of Consumer Affairs reminds New Jerseyans: ‘Tis the Season to Investigate Before You Donate.

Bringing increased transparency to the ways non-profit organizations use donated money, the Division 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 recent reported fiscal year.  The full list is available at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/#list.

“At this time of year, people are making decisions about donating to the causes they find most meaningful and important,” Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said.  “Our Investigate Before You Donate campaign urges consumers to decide not just with their hearts, but with their heads.  Before giving to a charity, find out how much of your donation dollar will be spent on charitable programs, as opposed to fundraising or management costs.  Take a close look at the charity’s stated mission, and the specific ways it works to fulfill that mission.”

The list of New Jersey’s Top 10 Most Inquired-About Charities is drawn from consumers’ calls to the Division’s Charities Registration Hotline, 973-504-6215.  The list announced today provides information on the 10 charities most often asked about by consumers who called the Hotline from September through November 2011.  A high number of inquiries may mean a charity solicited donations or held a campaign drive during the months in question.

The New Jersey Police Officers Foundation, based in Lyndhurst, and the Christian Appalachian Project, based in Lexington, Kentucky, stand at the extremes of the list announced today.  The information about their expenditures is based on each charity’s most recent fiscal year report to the Division of Consumer Affairs.

The Better Business Bureau’s Standards for Charity Accountability state that a charity should dedicate at least 65 percent of its expenses toward program activities, and no more than 35 percent toward fundraising.  Consumers can compare that guideline with the expenditures reported by the charities for their most recent fiscal years.

Each of the Top 10 Most-Inquired-About Charities is listed below, beginning with those with the smallest percentage of their expenditures dedicated to charitable programs, according to their most recent fiscal year reports.  Click on each charity's name to see the full pie chart and additional information.

New Jersey Police Officers Association, of Lyndhurst: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/NJPoliceOfficersFoundation1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $931,126

            Charitable program expenses: 10.8 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 87 percent

            Management and general expenses: 2.1 percent

 

PAL of New Jersey, of Freehold: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/PALofNewJersey1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2009: $996,676

            Charitable program expenses: 39.6 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 50 percent

            Management and general expenses: 10.4 percent

 

Paralyzed Veterans of America, of Washington, D.C.: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/ParalyzedVeteransofAmerica1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/21/2010: $110,781,205

            Charitable program expenses: 60 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 31.8 percent

            Management and general expenses: 8.3 percent

 

Wounded Warrior Project, of Jacksonville, Florida: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/WoundedWarriorProject1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 9/30/2010: $34,843,801

            Charitable program expenses: 64.1 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 28.3 percent

            Management and general expenses: 7.7 percent

 

Help Hospitalized Veterans, of Winchester, California: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/HelpHospitalizedVeterans1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 7/31/2010: $37,837,593

            Charitable program expenses: 64.5 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 27.5 percent

            Management and general expenses: 8 percent

 

Breast Cancer Society of America, of Mesa, Arizona: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/BreastCancerSocietyofAmerica1211.pdf  

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $47,985,521

            Charitable program expenses: 69.8 percent

            Fundraising Expenses: 29.5 percent

            Management and general expenses: 0.7 percent

 

Smile Train, of New York, New York: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/SmileTrain1211.pdf  

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 6/30/2010: $86,267,187

            Charitable program expenses: 78 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 21 percent

            Management and general expenses: 0.9 percent

 

United Service Organizations, of Arlington, Virginia: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/UnitedServiceOrganization1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $174,716,310

            Charitable program expenses: 79.3 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 13.5 percent

            Management and general expenses: 7.2 percent

 

Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/charity/inquired/2011/1211/ChildrensCancerRecovery1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010

            Charitable program expenses: 85.5 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 10 percent

            Management and general expenses: 4.5 percent

 

Christian Appalachian Project, of Lexington, Kentucky: http://highpoint.state.nj.us/lps/ca/charity/inquired/2011/1211/ChristianAppalachianProject1211.pdf

            Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 8/31/10: $132,680,466

            Charitable program expenses: 90.6 percent

            Fundraising expenses: 5.1 percent

            Management and general expenses: 4.3 percent.

 

The State Division of Consumer Affairs encourages New Jersey consumers to learn about charities before making a donation.  For example:

  • Find out whether the charity is registered in New Jersey, or is exempt from having to register. (Certain religious and educational organizations, and charities whose annual income includes less than $10,000 in public contributions and fundraising, are exempt from having to register with the State).
  • Find out how much the charity spent during recent fiscal years on program costs, management costs, and fundraising.
  • Learn about the charity’s stated mission.
  • Consumers may obtain information about a charity in several ways.  They can ask the charity itself (reputable charities encourage you to do so); visit the charity’s website; visit the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Charities Registration page at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov; or call the Division’s Charities Hotline at 973-504-6215 during regular business hours.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.

Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/NJ-Division-of-Consumer-Affairs/112957465445651, and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/outreach/.