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For Whom The Bell Tolls

For charities in the recession, demand is up and donations are down

While the circumstances have worked in favor for some nonprofits in terms of manpower, new fundraising methods will need to be mapped out into the future.

“The way they do business has to change,” says Adelphi’s Thigpen. “[The nonprofits] will have to establish good relationships with their donors and the community.”

Although many have already seized on “e-Philanthropy” initiatives, such as soliciting donations via e-mail blasts, websites and online social networking, these moves alone may not be enough, experts say.


Cerini has a bleaker outlook for Long Island nonprofits.

“I don’t know that their plight will get better in the future,” he says. “They will have to be creative and get a better understanding of the people they serve.”

With additional reporting by Lindsay Christ, Kaitlyn Piccoli and Brad Pareso.

Know Before You Give

Long Islanders are generous people. We derive joy out of helping others. We like to give. A recently released report from New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Office, however, details the importance of conducting research into your charities before handing over your hard-earned cash to aid the less fortunate. Unknowingly, you may be actually funding the future of the charities’ collectors instead of the nonprofit. Your money may never even make it to your intended charitable organization.

Cuomo’s annual analysis, titled “Pennies for Charity, Where Your Money Goes: Telemarketing by Professional Fund Raisers,” reveals a bit of the darker side to the holiday spirit of giving. It documents how for-profit telemarketers pocket the bulk of contributions donors across New York State give to charities.

According to the report, in 2008, on average, only about 39.5 cents out of every dollar raised by professional telemarketing companies actually went to the charities they were fundraising for.

Thirty-nine-and-a-half cents out of every dollar. And many charities across the state—especially, on Long Island—received even less, Cuomo’s report found.

Overall, telemarketers raised a total of $204.8 million on behalf of 444 New York charities in 2008, says the analysis. In total, $123.9 million, or approximately 60.5 percent, was paid to the telemarketers as profits, fees and other costs of the campaigns. Less than 39.5 percent raised went to the charities.

Broken down by geographical region, the report found that Long Island ranked third in total gross dollars raised, with $7.6 million last year, behind only New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, respectively.

Long Island charities that used telemarketers for fund solicitations ranked last in the percentage of those donations that actually went to their intended charities, however—with only 24.6 cents ultimately reaching their charitable group from every dollar.

The Better Business Bureau deems 65 percent, or 65 cents per dollar, as the acceptable standard for charities to retain, says the report.

To assist potential donors in making wise contributions, Cuomo launched a new online search tool to help givers make informed decisions before handing over their wallets. Users can type in the name of the charity they’re looking to contribute to and see how much money their telemarketers raised—and just how much actually went to the charitable organization. The direct website address is here.

“Especially in this tough economy, it is essential that New Yorkers understand where every penny is going when giving to a charity,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing the 2009 report.—Christopher Twarowski

Charities At A Glance

Rock Can Roll
Address: P.O. Box 700, Jericho
Phone: 516-822-3457
A volunteer nonprofit that collects canned food and other essential living items at social gatherings, corporate events and music events.

Island Harvest
Address: 99 Second Street, Mineola
Phone: 516-294-8528, 631-831-5388
Fax: 516-747-6843
A volunteer nonprofit that brings surplus food from restaurants, farms, grocers and caterers to food pantries and soup kitchens.

L.I. Cares
Address: 10 Davids Dr., Hauppauge
Phone: 631-582-FOOD
Fax: 631-273-2184
Pools resources to bring emergency foods to people and places, nurtures families into a state of self-sustainability and educates the public about the hunger hows and whys.

Toys of Hope Children’s Charity
Address: P.O . Box 1247, Huntington
Phone: 631-271-TOYS
This Huntington-based charity relies solely on volunteers to provide toys, books, clothing, activities and other items to needy and homeless children and their families. Toys of Hope also provides essential items to needy families so that they can become more self sufficient and in turn help to improve their children’s lives. They hold fundraising events year-round and always welcome donations.

New York Horse Rescue
Address: PO Box 435, Manorville
Phone: 631-874-9420
Fax: 631-878-3306
Located on a 50-acre farm, this nonprofit charity takes in old and retired race horses, rehabilitates and finds caring homes and new careers for them.

Rescue Ink
Address: P.O. Box 465, Long Beach
Phone: 516-208-7676
This is one rescue group you do not want to mess with. It consists of tattooed, motorcycle-riding tough guys who have banded together on a mission: to fight animal cruelty and educate animal abusers. Although they appear more like outlaws, this band of animal crusaders has been so successful, they have their own book and a hit show on the National Geographic Channel.

Little Shelter
Address: 33 Warner Rd., Huntington
Phone: 631-368-8770
Founded in 1927, Little Shelter is one of Long Island’s oldest no-kill shelters, is dedicated to saving all companion animals whose lives are in jeopardy. Through rescue-from-kill facilities, rehabilitation of sick and un-socialized pets, and a 100 percent spay/neuter program, Little Shelter strives to end pet overpopulation and place all animals in loving homes. They feature fun, family-friendly events and have set up a residence at Broadway Mall in Hicksville every weekend.

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