California fundraisers raised millions but less that 42% went to charities

Commercial fundraisers in California brought in a bundle for charities last year, but less than 42 percent of the nearly $400 million raised went to the charities themselves, the state Attorney General's office announced Friday.

The majority of funds were paid in fees and expenses to the commercial fundraisers, who are hired by charitable organizations and earn a flat rate or a percentage of the amount they collect.

In its annual survey, the Attorney General's office said $167.6 million - or 41.9 percent of the total raised in 2008 - remained in the charities' coffers.

In its press release, the attorney general's office noted that some charities do a better job of retaining donations. As examples, it cited Doctors without Borders, which received 70 percent of the funds raised by its commercial fundraiser in 2008, and Special Olympics Southern California, which retained more than 75% of the funds raised.

All commercial fundraisers must register with the state AG's office. Currently there are 1,359.

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