Oversight of charitable organizations and the commercial fund-raisers they employ can be helpful in weeding out firms with unprofessional standards. However, I am concerned that reports such as state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's ("Fund-Raising Firms Kept 56% of Money," Dec. 28) give an incomplete picture of reputable organizations. By focusing on specific fund-raising activities, rather than a full year's work, the report could lead donors to believe that most of their money goes to hired, commercial firms and not the cause itself. A more helpful measure for donors is to examine moneys used for fund-raising versus those used for programmatic work.
According to Amnesty International USA's own audited financial statement, only 13% of the funds raised in 1999 went toward direct fund-raising expenses, while the lion's share (78%) was allocated to AIUSA's various programs (the other 9% was used for administrative costs). AIUSA meets the standards of the National Charities Information Bureau, the Charities Review Council and the American Institute of Philanthropy. These independent organizations review charities to determine their adherence to professional standards of operation--including the ethics and costs of the charities' fund-raising activities.
Senior Deputy Exec. Dir.
Amnesty International USA