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Oklahoma law enforcement charities pay thousands to telemarketers

Oklahoma law enforcement charities pay 80 percent of their donations for fundraising – mostly to telemarketers, an investigation by has found.

BY MICHAEL BAKER Published: May 31, 2010
Oklahoma law enforcement charities pay nearly 80 cents of every donated dollar for fundraising – mostly to telemarketers, an investigation by The Oklahoman has found.

Watchdog groups say charities should spend no more than 35 percent of contributions on fundraising, but law enforcement charities seem to run into problems meeting this standard.

"When you have these highly inefficient charities siphoning all the resources away from efficient ones, that's not in anyone's best interest,” said Laurie Styron, an analyst with the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Of the law enforcement charities looked at by The Oklahoman, only the fledgling Friends of OSBI demonstrated that it met the 35 percent standard. The other law enforcement charities spent 57 to 88 percent of the donations collected on fundraising, according to federal tax forms and records filed with the state in 2009 and 2010.

Law enforcement charities spend such a high percentage on fundraising largely because they become dependent on telemarketers, said Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

The law enforcement charities said telemarketing saves money and allows them to budget effectively.

"It enables us to provide training to law enforcement — federal, state, county, municipal, campus and tribal — at no charge,” said Stacey Puckett, who is the executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oklahoma Police Chiefs Training Foundation.

"It may not seem like a lot of money coming to us, but it certainly enables us to operate our training at no cost, which allows us to save the municipalities money,” she said.

The law and telemarketers
According to paperwork filed with the secretary of state and Internal Revenue Service, five Oklahoma law enforcement charities use telemarketers: Oklahoma State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, Oklahoma Police Chiefs Training Foundation, Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, Oklahoma State Troopers Association and Oklahoma Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

Contracts allow the telemarketers to keep 71 to 88 percent of the money collected. Ongoing Coverage: Watchdog Database: Oklahoma charities