The Orange County Register came out with an eye-opening article recently highlighting the staggering amount of money that many third party commercial fundraisers make off telemarketing campaigns they run for nonprofits.
According to figures [PDF] from the California Attorney General, nonprofits themselves kept only 37% of the nearly $300 million raised in the state by commercial fundraisers in 2012.
The article quotes Doug White, an instructor with Columbia University’s Master of Science in Fundraising Management program, who calls these telemarketing companies “bottom-feeders.” But he doesn’t blame them: “They’re just for-profit companies doing their job. I blame the nonprofits that use them over and over and over again.”
Then the article names some names—a list that includes the nation’s largest abortion chain:
One campaign for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York had revenues of $2 million – but the nonprofit wound up losing $1.8 million nonetheless, for a return of minus 92.8 percent, according to data collected by the California attorney general. [emphasis in the original]
When I first read that, I was skeptical. Could that really be true?
But sure enough, the numbers from the California Attorney General don’t lie.
Conflict of Interest?
That campaign ended up transferring a good chunk of money from Planned Parenthood to the coffers of Grassroots Campaigns, whose client list reads like a Who’s Who of the nation’s largest left-wing groups — including the ACLU, Media Matters, the Sierra Club, MoveOn.org, and even the Democratic National Committee.
Like a slew of other commercial fundraising companies, Grassroots Campaigns works “care of” Copilevitz and Canter LLC, which could rightly be called the King Kong of the nonprofit telemarketing world.
Another campaign run for Planned Parenthood by Grassroots Campaigns brought in revenue of nearly $600,000, but still ended up costing Planned Parenthood over $480,000 — resulting in a return of minus 80.6% — and thereby, of course, greatly benefiting like-minded Grassroots Campaigns.
Back to Columbia University’s Doug White, quoted in the OC Register article:
The larger truth is that these total dollars are being deducted on donors’ income taxes even though only a small percentage is going toward the charity’s cause, so it’s essentially being paid for by the rest of us. That’s an outrage. You can understand an unestablished charity using professional fundraisers to help it get started, but for it to go on, chronically, forever – that’s an outrage. That’s terrible.
For the record, the Pro-Life Action League does not solicit donations via telemarketing.
HT: Jill Stanek