We’re a nonprofit – just like the organizations we’re writing about in our series America’s Worst Charities.
The similarities end there.
At The Center for Investigative Reporting, nearly 85 percent of the money we raise goes directly to our core mission of investigative reporting – finding, reporting and delivering high-impact journalism. We lay it out in our annual 990 tax filing. In contrast, America’s worst charities spend about 75 percent of their money to pay solicitors and charity executives.
All of America’s worst charities rely heavily on telemarketing firms or other professional fundraising companies. We have never used phone solicitors to raise money. CIR has been around for more than 35 years, and the vast majority of our fundraising occurs in California, where we have been a registered charity since 1977.
We didn’t learn until this year that we should file paperwork in other states. It came to our attention when one of the subjects we were investigating noted that we hadn’t registered outside of California.
We are glad he pointed this out. It enabled us to take steps to rectify the situation. Our legal counsel feels that since we raise money via our website around the country, we should register in any state that requires it.
To be clear, CIR has never been fined or sanctioned. As far as we know, not a single complaint has been registered against our organization for how we solicit donations, which mostly come from large foundations and individuals who believe investigative reporting is crucial to democracy.
But to be proactive, we retained a law firm to register CIR in the 39 states across the country that require nonprofits to file paperwork. We have signed registration forms for 12 new states (Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin). The forms were sent to our legal representatives this week to complete the registration in each of those states. We hope to have registered in all 39 states by the fall. We’ve shared our plans with our reporting partners, the Tampa Bay Times and CNN.
We’ll update this post when the registration is completed.