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December 23, 2011
Oregon’s 20 worst charities list
By Oregon Attorney General
Oregon donors should avoid giving to charities that spend most of their funding on telemarketing and administration
Attorney General John Kroger today issued the annual list of Oregon’s 20 Worst Charities.
“Most charities in Oregon do important work, helping the needy and supporting worthy causes,” said Attorney General Kroger. “But generous Oregon donors should be aware that some non-profits are little more than scams that provide little if any help to the causes they claim to support.”
In order to avoid being duped by unscrupulous non-profits, donors should review the Department of Justice Tips for Charitable Giving.
State law requires charities to file periodic financial reports with the Oregon Department of Justice disclosing how much money the organization raised and how the funds were spent. The Department’s Charitable Activities Section has identified 20 organizations that spent more than 70% of the donations they collected on administrative costs and professional fundraising.
While guidelines issued by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggest that charitable organizations should spend at least 65% of their funds on charitable programs, every charity on the Department of Justice’s list devoted less than 30% of their expenditures on charitable program activities.
The Department of Justice previously identified the state’s 20 Worst Charities in 2010 and 2009.
For the second year in a row, Shiloh International Ministries topped the list. Shiloh International Ministries claims to solicit money to provide medical necessities and moral support for needy children and to provide assistance to the homeless. According to its most recent financial filings, the California-based non-profit spent an average of $846,340 per year, 96.8% of which went towards management and fundraising.
No. 2 on the list is American Medical Research Organization, which claims that it raises money to support medical research on the cause, cure and treatment of macular degeneration. The Florida-based non-profit spent an annual average of $783,217, just 4.2% of which went towards its charitable purpose.
There are currently more than 17,000 charities registered with the Oregon Department of Justice, and many of them are actively seeking donations. By law Attorney General Kroger cannot dictate how charities spend your money, but he is arming Oregonians with some basic advice to ensure your gifts go to a worthy cause.
Before donating to a charity, it is important to make sure the organization is registered with the Attorney General’s Office by searching the Department’s online database or by calling 971-673-1880. You can also visit www.guidestar.org, a national clearinghouse of information on charities and their performance.
Attorney General Kroger also cautions Oregonians to watch out for charities that send solicitations thanking you for your previous support or invoices claiming you made a recent pledge when you didn’t. These methods are intentionally confusing and dishonest ways to obtain donations.
Consumers are advised against giving out their personal information over the phone. Legitimate charities will accept contributions by check, which should always be made payable to the organization and never the individual collecting the donation.
The Oregon Department of Justice Charitable Activities Section is responsible for ensuring that organizations soliciting funds in Oregon register and file periodic financial reports showing how donations are spent. The section also protects the public against organizations that attempt to mislead Oregon donors or that misuse charitable assets.
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