N.C. charities spending more to help people, less on overhead, report finds

North Carolina charities received nearly $2 million less in donations in the past year but “a record high” amount of that money is going to help people in need, according to a new state report. 

“Many charities out there are doing more than ever,” said North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. “And stretching their donations further than ever.”

Statewide, charities have collected $43.6 million since 2018. While donations are down, the report found charities spent 75 cents of every dollar – a 4 percent increase from last year - to fulfill the mission of the charity after overhead costs are paid.

The recipients of these charities received an extra $433,000. State officials, and charity organizers, caution that there is still a critical need for help.

“There are a lot of needs in our community,” said Salvation Army Area Commander Larry Broome, at a Red Kettle donation site. “A lot of people go without unless they have this kind of support.”

Still, the state found some charities where “the bulk – in some cases all of the contributions” went towards hiring professional fundraisers and administrative overhead.

At a news conference Tuesday, speaking at a charity, Marshall said “the law is clear” that charities cannot be penalized for spending most of its donated money on fundraisers instead of spending it on the people who actually need help.

“If you’re interested in giving,” said Marshall, “do your homework.”

With more than half of all charitable contributions made in November and December, how do you know who is doing the most good with your money?

  • You can verify if a charity is licensed by calling the Secretary of State’s office at (888) 830-4989.
  • Websites like Give.org, Guidestar and Charity Navigator help you see how your money is being spent.
  • Decide who you want to give to and contact the charity directly.
  • Give to charities you know.
  • Ask for written information about charities you are unfamiliar with.
  • Ask how much of your money goes to fund the charity’s mission versus fundraising and administrative costs?

“Check before you write one,” said Marshall.

Read the report here: https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/charities/annual_reports

Avoid holiday scams: https://ncdoj.gov/protecting-consumers/holiday-scams/

Research charities here:

http://www.give.org/

https://www.charitynavigator.org/

https://www.guidestar.org/

This story was reported from Charlotte, N.C.