SALEM, Ore. -

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum issued the Department of Justice’s 20 Worst Charities list Thursday, an annual review of organizations that spend the vast majority of their donations on fundraising and other administrative costs rather than charity.

The 20 nonprofits on this year’s list spent 25 percent or less of their funds on charitable programs. Click here to see the list.

Thursday’s announcement is a reminder for Oregonians to be as vigilant as they are generous when donating to charity this holiday season. The Better Business Bureau recommends donors avoid any charity that delivers less than 65 percent of its money to its stated charitable pursuit.

“There are many reputable nonprofits doing great work in our communities,” said  Rosenblum. “My office is committed to ensuring that the few unscrupulous charities aren’t taking advantage of Oregonians’ generosity.” 

State law requires Oregon’s 18,000 registered charities to file periodic financial reports with the Attorney General disclosing how much money the organization raised and how the funds were spent.

The vast majority of the charities active in Oregon far exceed Better Business Bureau spending guidelines. This list focuses on a few exceptions. All are registered to solicit in Oregon. None of the charities on the list are based here. 

As in previous years, many claim to support causes that have an emotional appeal, such as public safety, children, veterans and the terminally ill.

Topping this year’s 20 Worst Charities list is the Law Enforcement Education Program of Troy, Mich. The group spent less than 2.7 percent of its $2,299,994 in annual expenditures on creating and supporting educational programs for the law enforcement community – its purported charitable mission. 

Under current law, the Department of Justice cannot dictate how charities spend the funds they raise. But the department can help consumers do some basic research to ensure their money is put to the use for which it is intended.

The department provides some basic advice on selecting a legitimate charity, as well as “red flags” to watch out for this holiday season on its website at http://tinyurl.com/apb7wzm.

Donors should also make sure the organization is registered with the Attorney General's Office by searching the Department's online database or by calling 971-673-1880. They can also visit www.guidestar.org, a national clearinghouse of information on charities and their performance.