Hundreds of charities participate in fundraisers each year but not every dollar donated goes back to the charity.
The North Carolina Secretary of State's Office annual report found 80% of the $44 million raised in North Carolina went directly towards charities' programs from July 2019 to July 2020.
The other 20% of the money went towards administrative costs and the professional fundraising organizations.
"Our real objective in publishing this report is giving the public information they need to be informed contributors. There are some charities that spend an awful lot in overhead and very little on the particular mission and there are others that are very efficient with their donations and a great majority of their funding goes to the actual charitable mission," said North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
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While a higher portion of donations went towards charities this year than in the past, ABC11 found more than 200 fundraisers gave less than 25% of the profits to charities.
The Secretary of State's Office cannot legally punish a charity for contributing a low amount of donations to its actual cause.
"Unfortunately, courts have told us we can't set an amount that anyone falls below that has to get out of the business. Unfortunately, they've equated free speech and contributions, so we can only present this information so we can't set a standard but we can present this information where folks see who's done it and who's done it regularly," Marshall said.
Marshall suggested people look for charities who consistently receive more than 60% of the donations.
Marshall also advised people to keep in mind that educational expenses are factored into administrative costs.
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"When you get things like cancer warning signs or promotions on that, that comes out of the administrative part and those are not bad, those are good things but there is no way you can tell," Marshall said.
Marshall said people should ask solicitors how much of the money will go towards the charity and if they won't disclose the information, that's a red flag.
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The Secretary of State's Office also advises donors to not give credit card information over the phone or mail in cash.
Go here for more tips on how to give wisely.
"I don't want to discourage anyone from giving because in these pandemic times there are a lot more folks out there hurting more than before so we want people to give, we want people to be thankful but remember there are those in needs and if you do decide to give wisely," Marshall said.
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