AG: LI charities using telemarketers get 25% of donations

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman shown

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman shown in a file photo on Sept. 19, 2012. (Credit: Charles Eckert)

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ALBANY -- Charities on Long Island that used telemarketers to raise money in 2012 got just one-fourth of the donated money on average -- the lowest rate for any region in New York, according to a report set to be released Thursday.

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, in his annual charities report, said statewide 62 percent of all donations made in 2012 went to telemarketing companies. But on the Island, the number was even greater: 75 percent.

The numbers are in keeping with recent historical trends. In 2011, telemarketers retained 61.5 percent of donations statewide and 73.5 percent in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"New Yorkers who open their hearts and wallets deserve to know how their hard-earned dollars are being spent and how much of their money is going to pay telemarketers' salaries and costs," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Our annual report aims to help New Yorkers maximize the benefits of their donations by showing how much really goes to charity, versus how much remains in the pockets of fundraisers."

Though the report covers the months after superstorm Sandy, which hit the Island Oct. 29, 2012, the attorney general didn't delineate telemarketers' share of Sandy-related donations.

On the Island, Schneiderman's report found that the share of donations that charities actually received ranged from a low of 10.8 percent by New York AMVETS Inc. to 87.4 percent by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Fund.

Earlier this month, three Island charities were shut down and they agreed to a $500,000 settlement after Schneiderman's office charged that they solicited donations but doled out a fraction of their collections. Bi-County Helpline for Abuse Against Women and Children; Long Island Responds, which said it provided information resources to the hungry; and Breast Cancer Funds for Research "conducted virtually no charitable activities," according to the attorney general's office.

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