A commercial fundraiser generally is a person or corporation who is paid by a charity to raise money on the charity's behalf. The for-profit business usually arranges a flat fee or charges the charity a percentage of the donations collected in the charity's name.
By law, the California Attorney General oversees the activities of commercial fundraisers for charitable purposes. These commercial fundraisers must file financial reports with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts.
You may search the commercial fundraiser database by the name of the commercial fundraiser or the charity on whose behalf solicitations have been made. These unaudited reports are scanned exactly as filed by the commercial fundraiser. There is no federal or state requirement that commercial fundraisers prepare audited financial returns.
It is an individual decision whether a charity uses a commercial fundraiser. Historically, use of a commercial fundraiser has meant higher costs for a charity. According to reports filed with the Attorney General, only about one-third of the total dollars collected by the commercial fund-raisers in California actually go to charities. However, most of the over 80,000 charities registered with the Attorney General do not use commercial fundraisers to solicit donations.