Only 45 Percent of Donations Reach Charities: Report

State Attorney General warns donors of for-profit charities

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    With year-end donations on the rise, California do-gooders might not be doing as much good as they think.

    Of the $362.9 million raised in California fundraisers in 2010, less than 45 percent of that money actually made it to a charitable cause, according to a new state report from Attorney General Kamala Harris.

    The loss is due to for-profit fundraisers hired by charitable organizations, Harris stated.

    These fundraising expenses totaled over $200 million in California last year. Harris said her hope in releasing the report was to warn donors of the expenses in the holiday season.

    In California, thirteen charities raised more than $1 million last year. But they returned 10 percent or less of those funds to their charities, according to an analysis by California Watch.

    Some of the charities which raised money in California include well-known names like Amnesty International, Save the Children and Natural Resources Defense Council.

    In response to the report, many of the charities told California Watch that the fundraisers help to secure money in the long-run. Fundraised money is a way to invest in recruitment and marketing, they say.

    "Commercial fundraisers play a role in supporting charities in California, but it's important for donors to know how much of their money will be used to support the charity's programs, and how much will go to fundraising expenses," Harris said in the report’s statement.

    CharityWatch gives ratings to all charities based off the organization’s percent spent on charitable programs.

    Ed. Note: In a previous version of this article, NBCSanDiego used an image portraying a charity not mentioned in the Attorney General's report. We regret the error.