Explanation of the Data

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In addition to the information provided in this report, the Secretary of State’s electronic charities database contains annually updated disclosure information filed by 10,452 charitable organizations, 176 paid solicitors, and 60 professional fundraising consultants (totals as of November 30, 2012).  These registration statements include basic identifying information about each registered entity, such as its location, legal entity status, place and date of formation, and executive personnel.  Each charitable organization describes its charitable purpose, lists the composition of its board of directors, discloses its federal tax-exempt status, and files an annual financial statement listing revenues and expenses. Consumers are strongly encouraged to review these filings and to check an organization’s current status before deciding whether a particular organization is worthy of support.

Additional information can be requested from a charity directly.  For example, the organization may publish its own annual report containing a detailed financial statement and other educational material concerning its mission and program services.  Most charitable organizations registered with the Secretary of State also file a federal Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N annual information return with the Internal Revenue Service, and some file a Form 990-PF or Form 990-T.  If so, they are required by federal law to provide a copy of such forms as well as a copy of their IRS tax-exempt application upon request.  More specific information regarding the federal public disclosure requirement is available at the IRS Public Disclosure Overview.

Collectively, these sources of information help answer one of the most frequently asked questions among potential donors - "Where does my donation go?"


Evaluating results of solicitation campaigns

A charity’s total fundraising costs might not resemble those of a particular campaign directed by a paid solicitor, so it is important to view any solicitation campaign in context.  As long as the solicitation campaign results are considered alongside the overall financial information in a charitable organization’s annual registration statements, the information in the Secretary of State’s Annual Report on Charitable Solicitations can provide valuable insights.  Consistently high fundraising costs may be a cause for concern and warrant a closer look by donors.

Here are some questions a person might ask that could provide more perspective to an individual fundraising campaign: 

  • Is the purpose of the campaign simply to raise as much money as possible, to acquire new donors for the future, to reinstate lapsed donors, or is it for some other purpose, which is merely a part of the overall fundraising strategy?

  • Does the solicitation campaign directly serve some other program purpose of the charity beyond the raising of funds in this particular solicitation campaign?

  • Are there other sources of revenue?

  • Has the organization conducted similar campaigns in the past?  Is this a newly-created organization?

  • Are there donor restrictions on the use of funds, exceptional bequests, or a stigma associated with a cause and environmental or political events beyond an organization’s control?

The information in the Annual Report on Charitable Solicitations provides important clues as to whether or not donations solicited by professional fundraisers are being used as donors intended.  While most donors understand that fundraising entails costs, many are not aware of the amount of those costs for a particular solicitation campaign, nor do they have an objective standard in mind regarding appropriate fundraising costs.


Description of annual report data tables

The financial information summarized in the tables below is information that was on file with the Secretary of State’s Office as of November 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM.  Since financial reports are due by the 15th day of the fifth month following the close of an organization’s fiscal year, the due dates vary.  Nevertheless, the last 2011 reports due were those of calendar year organizations, whose accounting periods ended on December 31, 2011.  The initial due date for calendar year organizations was May 15, 2012.  Since up to two extensions of the deadline could be requested by a charitable organization (three months each), all 2011 financial reports were due by November 15, 2012, at the latest. The number of organizations listed in Table 11 is less than the total number of charities in the registry, because many charities are overdue with their filings.  Any organization that has not yet reported on a fiscal year that ended in 2011 is now delinquent or suspended.  If it is suspended, it should not be soliciting contributions from the public until its filings are brought up to date.

For a number of reasons, it is also possible that a charitable organization could be registered now, despite not being listed in Table 11 or Table 12.  Similarly, an organization listed in this report may have had its registration withdrawn, suspended, or revoked since publication, so the reader is encouraged to visit www.checkthecharity.com for the most current information on any charitable organization. 

The information summarized in the annual report reflects the general financial condition and overall solicitation campaign results of charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in Colorado.  The totals do not reflect activity in Colorado alone.  More specifically, "Total Contributions" as listed in the Tables 11 and 12 does not reflect total donations by Coloradans.  Such information on total donations by Colorado residents must be culled from data contained in individual federal income tax returns, which can be found on the Internal Revenue Service’s web site (www.irs.gov) in the "Statistic of Income Bulletin."



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