Charity Fundraising Database

Ever wonder where your donations go when you give to charity by mail or over the phone? On average, commercial fundraisers deliver just 46 cents of each donated dollar to the charity. Some charities enjoy much better success, but in other cases ineffective fundraisers can take all the money that's raised.

To see how your favorite charities or causes did from 1997-2006, search our database. You can look up individual causes like St. Jude's Hospital and The Heritage Foundation, browse by charity types like animal welfare and disaster relief, or just page through the whole list.

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The Efficiency Matrix

The grid below sorts charities by the size and efficiency of their fundraising campaigns waged by for-profit fundraisers. Red represents charities whose fundraisers did relatively poorly, keeping a high percentage of donations in fees. Green represents charities that did relatively well, receiving a high rate of return from their fundraisers. Darker squares indicate more in total donations, lighter squares less.

Click on a square to drill down and and see list of the charities that fall into each category. The grid is limited to charities that employed for-profit fundraisers three years or more, including at least one year since 2003.

About the data: Data analyzed for this report included all commercial fundraising campaigns reported to the state from 1997 through 2006, excluding those involving thrift store sales or vehicle donations. The data cover both California-specific efforts and national campaigns that included solicitations within California. They do not cover fundraising by charities' in-house solicitors. These data may contain filing errors by fundraisers, or recording errors by the state. However, spot checks of records from other states showed substantial consistency with California results. In a few cases, fundraising data for directly affiliated groups operating out of the same location were combined.

Sources: California Attorney General

Credits: Thomas Suh Lauder, Charles Piller, Doug Smith, Ben Welsh