A new report from New York’s attorney general notes that several food activist groups actually lost money during fundraising efforts in the Big Apple. The state’s top law enforcement official warned: “This report is a reminder to make informed decisions before contributing hard-earned dollars to charity.”

Keeping in mind that the Better Business Bureau says charities should retain about 65 percent of the funds they raise, consider these financially unsound donations from New York:

The anti-biotech activists at Friends of the Earth kept less than 11 percent of the money raised in its name.

The Ralph Nader-founded Public Citizen Foundation lost $86,853 with one fundraiser company (a negative 243 percent return on investment).

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which disguises its animal rights activism in the cloak of animal welfare, lost $173,726 this year as it continued its pattern of dubious fundraising practices. According to previous reports from New York’s attorney general, fundraising company Share Group Inc. kept $2.18 million between 1999 and 2000, and passed on only $273,560 to HSUS — a return rate of only 11 percent. In New York, Share Group only gave HSUS $16,543 of the $1.08 million it raised during the year 2000 — a return of only 1.53 percent. This dismal record probably did not surprise HSUS: in 1996, Share raised $60,045 for the group and returned nothing.

A 2001 Letter of Agreement between the two groups shows that HSUS agreed to a minimum guarantee of only 1 percent of the gross receipts. The Illinois Attorney General’s office reports that HSUS paid Share Group over $1.87 million for 2001 fundraising that netted less than $750,000 to the animal-rights group in that state — a negative 150 percent return.

It’s too much to hope that these groups will fundraise themselves right out of business, but there are steps individuals can take. Sign our petition to the IRS commissioner seeking to revoke the tax-exempt status of the violence-promoting “charity” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. And be sure to tell your friends and family to avoid throwing hard-earned wages into a money pit.