A regular reader of The Woodstock Advocate sent me this story about a charity's telemarketer that drew the attention and the ire of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The company got socked with an $18.8 million fine; that's $18,800,000.
Its pitch? Bullet-proof vests for cops and death benefits for survivors of officers who died.
The problem? The fundraising company sucked up about 90% of the take.
So, the next time you get a call from "your friendly police department", inquire carefully whether the company is merely a fundraiser for the department it claims to be raising money for. Listen very, very carefully. Ask for clarification. Get a callback number.
Then call the department to find out if it has contracted with the fundraiser. If you are really curious, check the corporate status of the fundraiser to see if it is is good standing with the Secretary of State. And you might even ask for its financial status, in order to satisfy any curiosity you have about what percentage of the money actually reaches the police department or charity.