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Charitable donation unequally divided

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

You've probably received the call from the telemarketing firm who represents the Missouri Police Chiefs. And if you're like me, you always want to be supportive of law enforcement efforts. So maybe you pledge a small donation. But if you knew that 80 percent of your donation goes to the telemarketing firm and not the police chiefs, you'd probably change your mind. I know I would.

The Police Chiefs Association perhaps offers something that is needed in law enforcement. I'm not sure because I don't work in that area. They offer Internet training programs and some statewide training conferences. They say they also offer technical assistance though I'm unaware of any utilized in this area. And now they're also a clearinghouse for homeland security equipment. For starters, I doubt the activities of this Association are truly critical to law enforcement in our state. But that's a judgment call for someone else to make. But what I do know is that any charitable organization that gets just 20 cents of every dollar in funds raised is not doing a very good job for the citizens of this state.

Another good chunk of the money raised goes to the administrative cost of the Association. When the smoke clears, the vast majority of your donation is not getting to the law enforcement community. It ends up in the hands of a telemarketing firm. And that's just not right.

The Police Chiefs Association says the telemarketer is the best choice available right now. They acknowledge that hopefully next year some changes can be made. And given the fallout from the paltry amount they receive, I expect some changes will indeed be made.

The Better Business Bureau says the telemarketing practice is not illegal but they too feel that people would be less likely to donate if they knew how little of their donation actually ends up in the hands of law enforcement.

Just because a noble name like the Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation is attached, doesn't always mean the need is worthwhile. Citizens would be more than happy to assist law enforcement. But when most of the money ends up in the hands of the telemarketer, then you should question your donation.



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