Pretty Expensive Overhead

According to a special investigative report in the Los Angles Times, for-profit fundraising businesses kept 35% of donations received by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

A comprehensive review of state records filed over a decade, indicates the problem of paltry returns extends well beyond what has been reported in recent years among benevolent societies for police, firefighters and veterans. It affects charities large and small, well-known and obscure.

The data analyzed included all commercial fundraising campaigns reported to the California Attorney General’s office from 1997 through 2006, excluding those involving thrift store sales or vehicle donations. The data cover both California-specific efforts and national campaigns that included solicitations within California.

But depending on who you compare them to, Federation really didn’t do so bad. Take a look at some prominent Jewish organizations to see how they stack up:

On the side of really poor return to the organization:

  • B’nai B’rith received 38.4%
  • American Jewish Committee 36.4%
  • Anti-Defamation League Of B’nai B’rith 28.6%
  • World Jewish Congress 22.0 %
  • More than one synagogue did a lot worse

And some Jewish communal groups get a star:

  • UJC received 97% of monies raised
  • The URJ received 90%
  • New Israel Fund received 81%
  • Hillel received 77%

There are a lot more Jewish non-profits listed; you can search the data base here.