The Orange County Performing Arts Center support groups really spent $825,000 to make $175,000 during its fifth anniversary Gala Celebration ("Checks, Balances for the Arts," Dec. 27). An 82%-18% split? That's incredible!
That kind of thing could never have occurred in the city of Los Angeles, where the department of social services keeps tight rein on such excessive spending. All solicitations for funds must be accompanied by a copy of the organization's social service license. That license includes an estimate of the amount to be raised and the costs to be incurred to raise it. The cost must not exceed 50%. A not-for-profit (group) exceeding that limit is hard-pressed to get a social service card ever again, and the weight of bad publicity from the media is brought down upon the organization's head. It's amazing how effective those sanctions are.
I chaired the Social Welfare Committee of the 1973 Orange County Grand Jury, which recommended that just such a licensing bureau be established countywide. Over the years, attempts have been made to try to implement that recommendation, but for a variety of reasons it has never taken hold.
As the county has grown and charitable organizations have proliferated with such speed they can almost be looked upon as a growth industry, the need for such controls have become even more necessary. Perhaps with such a major example of excessive spending from such a major nonprofit organization, this is a recommendation whose time has come.
Editor's note: There are no countywide guidelines regulating charitable solicitation, although most Orange County cities have ordinances governing such activity, said Chris Kralick, who heads the Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit of the Orange County district attorney's office, which investigates charitable fraud. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision stipulates that "you cannot obligate a charitable or nonprofit organization, in doing their fund-raising, to disclose that a certain percentage (of money raised) would go to the actual (beneficiary) organization and (promise that) only a certain percentage would go toward costs" of the fund-raising event, Kralick said. MORE LETTERS: F4