Georgia Charity Defends that it Spends 87% of money Raised on Fundraising

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June 13, 2011; Source: WSBTV | The Committee for Missing Children, in Lawrenceville, Ga., is being scrutinized for raising $2.1 million last year while only spending $314,000 on its programs. Additionally, because it spent $1.9 million paying telemarketers, it actually ran a deficit of more than $100,000.

David Thelen who runs the organization admits that it all looks bad “on paper” but says the organization has brought home 1,200 children over the years and he can’t think of any other way to raise the money. He says it bothers him but he's losing no sleep.

Charity Navigator has given the organization no stars (not that we always ascribe to their ratings by a long shot). We have a feeling this is not the last we will hear about this situation. As we have reported previously, it is this kind of set up that is driving some states towards capping the fundraising costs of nonprofits.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Susan C. Ruderman

    The Committee for Missing Children’s CEO David Thelen says he “can

  • Peter Breen

    Looks bad “on paper” because it is bad. It is not acceptable to ask people for money without telling them exactly what it will be spent on. Organisations like this make it harder for efficient and properly managed charities to raise funds which will be used for their stated aims and not head office costs, salaries, conferences, computers, etc. These costs may be legitimate but donors should know what their money is going to be spent on at the point of giving not after an annual report has been filed and reviewed by a third party.

  • Sunil

    Interesting article. I received it through LinkedIn. (thank you!) The the most expensive project I’ve ever done was at a cost of 7.3% (not including the money we raised for endowment). I don’t know if it would be productive to contact them about my work. Any thoughts?

  • David Pratt

    That’s “subscribe,” not “ascribe.”

  • Erik Ferry

    Who could blame governments for setting fundraising cost caps when stories of nefarious schemes like this go without a quick and sure condemnation from our Third Sector reviewers. Hell, spending only 20% of revenue on fundraising alone would demonstrate questionable competence or worse.