Fundraising firms are only charitable to themselves. The folks who manage direct mail, telephones and events get the better part of the money raised according to the LA Times' story titled "The give and take for charity".
The article paid particular attention to a nonprofit (Citizens Against Government Waste) that has spent its many years of existence focused on protecting the public's interest by pointing out failures in the way the government works and spends. The Citizens gets about 19% of the money. Yet, according to the accounting for some $879,000 raised in a ten year period from these methods, only 6% of the amount of money raised actually went to charity.
Many nonprofits argue that their take would be $0 if they had to rely on raising the money themselves. Others note how these efforts are good at identifying the long term donor who is captured through these methods relatively inexpensively.
So, bad or good? I think it's about transparency, not about bad or ineffective methods actually (the methods do work). As long as the donor understands that only a portion of their dollar reaches the cause and that that's ok, this method of raising is ok in my book.
What's your thought?