• In this Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 photo Erin Stennis poses for a photo in Los Angeles. Stennis helped a lawmaker pass legislation allowing California taxpayers to donate to colon cancer prevention after her husband died of the disease in 2003. Stennis says it's a missed opportunity that the state hasn't spent any of the  donations on cancer awareness a decade after the legislation passed. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    In this Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 photo Erin Stennis poses for a photo in Los Angeles. Stennis helped a lawmaker pass legislation allowing California taxpayers to donate to colon cancer prevention after her husband died of the disease in 2003. Stennis ... says it's a missed opportunity that the state hasn't spent any of the donations on cancer awareness a decade after the legislation passed. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Aug. 19, 2015, photo, California Army National Guardsman, Sgt. Jeff Bennett, poses with his family daughter Serenity, 8 months, seated left, son Jaydon, 3, right, and wife Danielle, at their home in Folsom, Calif. After serving in Kosovo in 2014, Bennett was stuck with a $18,000 medical bill for his wife's high-risk pregnancy because of an unexpected lap in health insurance. The California Military Department last year pushed to change illegibility requirements for National Guard relief grants that had gone unused. Bennett was the first recipient of the new grant meant to help members of the National Guard returning from deployment. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    In this Aug. 19, 2015, photo, California Army National Guardsman, Sgt. Jeff Bennett, poses with his family daughter Serenity, 8 months, seated left, son Jaydon, 3, right, and wife Danielle, at their home in Folsom, Calif. After serving in Kosovo in ... 2014, Bennett was stuck with a $18,000 medical bill for his wife's high-risk pregnancy because of an unexpected lap in health insurance. The California Military Department last year pushed to change illegibility requirements for National Guard relief grants that had gone unused. Bennett was the first recipient of the new grant meant to help members of the National Guard returning from deployment. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Aug. 18, 2015, photo, Elizabeth Wallner, who has terminal colon cancer, pauses while she discuss right-to-die legislation during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California has never spent  the $235,000 donated by taxpayers for colon cancer prevention, frustrating advocates and those with the disease. Wallner says the states inaction is horrifying.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    In this Aug. 18, 2015, photo, Elizabeth Wallner, who has terminal colon cancer, pauses while she discuss right-to-die legislation during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California has never spent the $235,000 donated by taxpayers for colon ... cancer prevention, frustrating advocates and those with the disease. Wallner says the states inaction is horrifying.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

AP EXCLUSIVE: California tax return donations for charity delayed, lost in state bureaucracy

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Every year when they do their taxes, Californians donate millions for charitable causes.

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But a review by The Associated Press found nearly $10 million of that money sat unspent in government accounts at the end of last year. Some of the funding never reached its intended target.

Good intentions often meet a lengthy bureaucratic maze with little oversight. That leaves many of the contributions delayed and lost.

At the same time, lawmakers leave distribution up to state agencies that sometimes don't know what to do.

California has the nation's largest voluntary tax contribution program. Tax forms included 36 funds in the last decade.