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Statement of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Regarding Fundraising Costs for Charitable Organizations And CNN Story on the National Veterans Foundation

May 22, 2012

(Arlington, VA) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has issued the following statement by Andrew Watt, president and CEO, in response to recent news stories in CNN and elsewhere about direct mail and fundraising costs:

“Charitable organizations transform our communities, some in high profile ways that appeal to many people, others in ways that are less visible but no less important. That transformation requires an investment of time and money. There are many different forms of fundraising—each appropriate for different circumstances, each requiring different levels of investment and each securing a different rate of return. 

“Fundraising by direct mail can require a large initial investment. Charities employ direct mail to identify new supporters who might be interested in the work they do and the impact they achieve. It can take several years for the return on that initial investment to emerge, but the long-term results for charities are stronger because of that early focus on developing new supporters. 

“There are many varying factors that affect fundraising costs. Some causes are more popular than others. Some charities raise funds from foundations and corporate donors while other grassroots organizations solicit small gifts from the community. No two organizations are alike or share the same ratio of investment in fundraising. 

“Because of the many different factors involved, AFP does not recommend a fixed limit on fundraising costs. Donors should look closely at the impact of an organization and then examine what it takes to fund that impact. Donors should always ask tough questions about apparently-high and continued levels of investment in raising those funds and satisfy themselves that the impact of a charity represents an appropriate return on investment.” 

AFP ( can provide extensive information about fundraising costs and how donors can make wise giving decisions with their charitable dollars.


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The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents over 30,000 members in 230 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. For more information, go to

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