Following a comprehensive investigation, New York's Attorney General recently issued a report entitled Pennies for Charities, Where Your Money Goes, Telemarketing by Professional Fundraisers. It's a scathing report that lists each charity in New York that uses an outside telemarketer to raise funds and the percentage of funds that actually goes to the charity.
The report shows that ABT's outside telemarketer collects 23.67% of what it raises over the phone. When you think you've just given ABT $1000 by phone or increased your donation level by $500, you've actually just handed over $236.70 or $118.35 to a telemarketing firm.
The report shows that NYCB's telemarketer collects a whopping 40.34% of whatever they can get you to fork over by phone.
These firms usually identify themselves as the charity when they call. Sometimes they say that they are calling "on behalf of" and sometimes they say "from the offices of" but the true identity is always obscured if not blatantly lied about. Their pitches are frequently fictionalized to create a sense of need or to create a sense of opportunity for the giver. When a caller claims that the charity desperately needs money because the company is stranded overseas on tour or when a caller claims that the donor will have special access to artists or board members if only he or she will just give money over the phone today, hang up.
If upon serious reflection, you then want to contribute money, do so by later directly contacting the company through its website donor page or mailing a check. If you have previously told the telemarketer that you will contribute directly to the company or you will think about their pitch and perhaps contribute later, the telemarketing firm may be able to collect their finder's fee for persuading you.
Here is the link to A.G. Schneiderman's report which massages the data in various ways including alphabetically by charity, alphabetically by telemarketer, and numerically by percentages retained by charity and telemarketer:
Oh, "ditto" on buying subscriptions over the phone -- although the percentages paid to the telemarketers may vary.