Wise Giving Wednesday: Fundraising for Fallen Police Officers
While every community recognizes the vital work of its police and law enforcement officers, the recent tragedies involving the shooting of police has magnified the risks law enforcement faces in carrying out their duties and has increased public interest in how to help the victims and families of police officers that have been killed or injured. So when a solicitation is received to donate to a police group, some people are likely to be receptive to offering a contribution to help. While many such groups have been involved in a variety of programs to provide assistance, there are also questionable efforts that will seek to take advantage of public concern about this issue. To help spot red flags, BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to consider.
Watch Out for Misleading Police Organization Names
The words “police,” “law enforcement,” “trooper” and/or “sheriff” in the name of the organization does not mean that any members of your local police force are involved and the organization may have no activities in your area other than raising funds.
Be Wary of Excessive Pressure in Police Fundraising
Don’t be pressured to make an on-the-spot giving decision. The charity that wants your money today will welcome it tomorrow. Take the time to check out police organizations on Give.org before you donate.
Expensive Telemarketing Campaigns
Some police organizations are known for using telemarketing as the principal means to raise funds. Keep in mind that soliciting a high volume of “cold calls” to people who have never donated to the organization will usually result in high fundraising expenses with very little remaining (sometimes 20% or less) for the referenced police organization.
Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do not do much vetting of posted requests for funds. While some families of fallen officers may decide to set up their own assistance funds, be aware that such funds may not be set up as charities. As a result, the contributions may not be deductible as charitable gifts for federal income tax purposes.
Watch Out for Vague Program Descriptions
The police organization’s appeals should be clear about how contributions will assist the families of fallen officers. Program goals can vary quite widely. For example, promoting officer safety programs, scholarships for children of slain police officers, constructing memorials for fallen officers, etc. Vague descriptions of assistance can be a signal that something is amiss.
On a separate note, as part of our Building Trust Video Series we are pleased to provide a video that features Robert Lee Bull Jr, Chief Development Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (a BBB Accredited Charity). Robert provides a brief overview of the National Trust’s program activities and explains what they do to help strengthen donor trust.
We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:
Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.
H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance