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The Bottom Line: 2013 Pennies for Charity Report

ALBANY -- New Yorkers were more generous than ever in 2012, but the majority of the money donated hasn't been making it to those in need.

That's The Bottom Line from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who released his annual "Pennies for Charity" report on Thursday.

The total contributions raised by telemarketers in New York - $249 million, a record for this report.

The problem?  The AG says those telemarketers are keeping 62-cents out of every dollar - a total of $154 million taken out of the hands, which the money is being raised for.

Even more disturbing: Some of the donations covered by this report were related to Superstorm Sandy relief, and aid for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings.

If you consider making a donation to a telemarketer who's calling, Schneiderman says to resist the urge to donate on the spot - and instead, take the time to research that charity first.

Here's the rest of his advice:

Ask the caller what programs are conducted by the charity, how much of your donation will be used for charitable programs, how much the telemarketer is being paid and how much of your donation the charity is guaranteed.

Ask specifically how the charity plans to use your donation, including the services and organizations your donation will support.

Review information about the charity before you give. The Attorney Generals interactive website allows potential donors to easily search the "Pennies for Charity" report by the name of the charity or by region in New York State. (A link to the search tool can be found on the Attorney Generals charities website at www.charitiesnys.com.)

Donate to organizations you are familiar with or ones with a verifiable record of success in meeting their charitable missions.

It's best to give your contribution by check made payable directly to the charity. This is safer than giving by credit or debit card and far safer than sending cash.

If you believe an organization is misrepresenting its work, or that a scam is taking place, please contact the Attorney Generals Charities Bureau at charities.bureau@ag.ny.gov or (212) 416-8401.