During this holiday season, do you plan on donating some used clothing or other items to a local charity? If so, don’t be surprised to see a government bureaucrat with a ruler measuring the size of the writing on the side of the collection box.
In North Carolina, like many other states, charitable organizations that attempt to solicit donations must register with the Secretary of State’s office and pay a fee to get a license. The Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division (CSLD) is tasked with tracking those charitable organizations who attempt to raise funds in North Carolina. The division maintains a searchable database of “detailed reports for specific individual fundraising campaigns, as well as financial information for all charities licensed to solicit contributions in our State.”
The fact that private charities must pay money to the state to get permission to solicit donations for their cause is troublesome enough. But what about the 700-page annual report produced by the division? How many tax dollars are needed to support the labor hours, printing expenses and software needed to piece that together?
Organizations such as Guidestar and Charity Navigator already provide transparency and background information on charities, and they don’t use taxpayer dollars for the service they provide.
Perhaps most offensive, and wasteful, is a 2011 state law that micromanages the containers and bins many charities use to collect used clothing and other donated items. Senate Bill 556 included language empowering the CSLD to inspect those collection bins to ensure they fit government regulations, right down to the size and coloring of the lettering on the box.
Specifically, the law mandates that any licensed charity soliciting donated clothing or other household items for resale “shall display on all sides of each collection receptacle a permanent sign or label with the name of the charitable organization or sponsor for whom the solicitation is made and the phone number or electronic mail address of a contact at the charitable organization or sponsor.”
But the law doesn’t stop there. It takes micromanaging to a new level by further mandating: “The sign or label shall be placed on all sides of the collection receptacle with the required information printed in letters that are no less than three inches in height and no less than one-half inch in width and in a color that contrasts with the color of the collection receptacle so that the sign or label is clearly visible.” (Emphasis added.)
That’s right, Guardian Angels, you better not label your donation bins with letters only two-and-a-half inches tall and a quarter-inch thick! Big Brother, not Santa, is watching!
According to the annual report, CSLD staff worked to ensure 2,500 such donation bins across the state were brought into compliance.
How much time, labor, travel and money (at taxpayers’ expense) did all of this compliance cost? Can we honestly believe the cries that state government has been “cut to the bone” when we know there are state bureaucrats measuring the letter size written on the sides of donation boxes across the state?
Because it steps outside the bounds of “core government services” and obsessively micromanages voluntary charitable giving, the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division is this week’s Waste of the Week.