The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office recently released its Annual Report on Charitable Solicitations in Colorado. The report summarizes the information reported by the 12,600-plus charitable organizations, paid solicitors and professional fundraising consultants registered with the Colorado Secretary of State.
By way of background, the Colorado online charities system has the dual goal of helping Coloradans make informed choices about the charities they support as well as providing organizations an efficient and reliable reporting system for compliance with Colorado charitable solicitation rules. To these ends, the website publishes copies of individual charities reports as well as whether they have been subject to any disciplinary actions for potential donors to access. The website is also a resource for charitable organizations to keep current on any new legislation or changes to the rules on charitable solicitations. The Secretary of State even has a mailing list where charitable organizations can sign up to receive automatic notifications whenever a change in the rules takes place. You can sign up for these emails here. Further, charities can stay abreast of best practices with information and links on such topics as governance, accountability and fraud prevention.
The 2015 Annual Report includes data and trends that can help guide charities’ decision making. But as with all data, the results need to be read with a careful eye, especially by any charity that is basing its decision of whether or not to hire professional solicitors based on the information in the Annual Report. For example, the report shows that 81% of all the proceeds professional solicitors brought in went to the charities, which at first blush seems well worth it. However, this figure includes several very large campaigns where solicitors took much lower than average fees for their work based on “special relationships” the solicitors had with the charities. When the two largest campaigns are left out, the actual figure drops to 37.9% of proceeds going to the charities. This is really the more appropriate figure on which a smaller nonprofit making the decision of whether to hire professional solicitors should base their decision. The follow up statistic in the Report that only 2% of Colorado registered charities use professional solicitors then further informs the decision making.
For more details on the 2012-2013 changes to the Colorado charitable solicitation registration and reporting rules that were the impetus behind Colorado’s online charities system, see our previous blog post.