March 8, 2013; Source: CBS-Detroit

Michigan has joined the growing list of states that issue an annual report on third-party fundraising on behalf of charities. Michigan’s Professional Fundraising Charitable Solicitation Report, issued by Attorney General Bill Schuette, is different from those of many other states in two key ways. First, its narrative comment is restrained to a one-page summary at the beginning of the report. The rest of the 67-page report is two spreadsheets detailing charities, professional fundraisers, their contracts, and their fundraising results. Second, that one-page summary includes mention of limitations and conditions that other states’ reports neglect to mention.

The big news from the report is that charities receive less from third-party fundraising than the professional fundraisers do, with fundraisers getting almost $2 for every dollar charities that use these third-party services receive. The report’s summary, however, points out what professional fundraisers have often said about their work. State reports focus on specific contracts that are usually only part of a charity’s development plan. Many such contracts are designed to attract new donors, which is more a more expensive activity than getting repeat donations. State reports like Michigan’s are limited to reporting on outside fundraisers; they do not address fundraising done by charities using staff and/or volunteers.

Two of the third-party fundraisers in the study gave 100 percent of the funds raised to charity, such as RuffaloCODY’s work for the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and 2Listen’s work for Feed the Children, Inc. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation used two professional fundraising firms for telephone solicitations, Donor Ser