A Saskatchewan charity that spent almost $100,000 on external fundraising in one year and ended up raising less than that amount says it's learned some lessons and made changes.

It happened in 2008, when the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan received $95,812 after paying a company $96,849 to run its door-to-door fundraising campaign.

The company was the Arcas Marketing Group of Regina.

"We didn't recruit as many volunteers as we had in past, and our return on the dollar was not what we'd hoped it would be," said Joanne Bracken, the chief executive of the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan.

"We worked with that company for one year, and after that we chose not to renew the contract with them."

One of the problems was that the contract with the company resulted in it receiving a set fee, Bracken said.

It's the only time the society lost money on a fundraising campaign, she said.

Government scrutiny

Arcas, which recruited canvassers for the Alzheimer Society, declined a request from CBC News to talk about the 2008 campaign.

However, the fact the company got paid and the society lost money caught the attention of Eric Greene, Saskatchewan's registrar for charities.

"We intend to look at what Arcas did," Greene said. "If they fall within the definition of a charitable fundraiser then, if they acted as such without being licensed, then it's an issue for us."

Not all charities use external fundraisers, but those that do usually pay anywhere from 40 to 60 cents on every dollar raised to the outside company, Greene said.

"Provincially, there's no requirement on the split. The only thing that we insist is that the expenses not exceed the donations received," he said.

The Alzheimer Society still goes door to door, but it's now using a different company to recruit canvassers.

Greene noted that it's within anyone's rights, when faced with a door-to-door solicitor or a telemarketer, to ask how much of the money they're giving actually goes to the charity, rather than to an external fundraiser or to administration costs.