YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Some non-profit organizations in New Jersey that invoke the name of law enforcement for fundraising — among them, the Lyndhurst-based Italian American Police Society — are less charitable than others, spending as little as a dime of every dollar on charity and pocketing the rest, state Division of Consumer Affairs officials revealed.
Most of the money spent by the IAPS, as well as by the U.S. Deputy Sheriffs Association and the New Jersey Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association, among others, goes toward the business of fundraising, including events, expenses and “administrative” costs, DCA officials said this morning.
In observance of National Consumer Protection Week, the division is once again reminding consumers to learn how a charity intends on spending your money before you hand over a nickel.
Continuing an ongoing trend of making non-profit organizations transparent, the Division today released pie charts illustrating how money is spent by: New Jersey’s Top 10 Most Inquired-About Charities
“As this list demonstrates, there are organizations that will invoke law enforcement or other good causes but dedicate as little as 10 cents of each dollar they spend to charitable programs, with the remainder going directly into the well-lined pockets of professional fundraisers,” DCA Director Thomas R. Calcagni said.
“This may not be prohibited by law,” Calcagni added, “but it’s certainly something about which potential donors deserve full disclosure.”
State Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said charities “should be forthcoming,” so that donors can make informed decisions. If they aren’t, or provide information that doesn’t match up with the DCA’s records, “consumers should be suspicious,” the attorney general said.
According to the Better Business Bureau’s Standards for Charity Accountability, a charity should dedicate at least 65 percent of its expenses toward program activities — and no more than 35 percent toward fundraising.
In the case of the Italian American Police Society, whose stated mission is to help other charities and advance the Italian-American community, it’s 11 percent on activities and 87 percent on fundraising, division officials said.
NOTE: The IAPS, which is holding its annual dinner dance March 31 at the Fiesta in Wood-Ridge (tickets are $100 each) is in no way connected to or affiliated with the Lyndhurst Police Department or its PBA. Its longtime president, William Schiavella, is chief of investigations for the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Narcotics Officers Foundation of Nutley spends 33 cents of each dollar on charitable programs, and 63 cents on fundraising, DCA records show. The foundation says it promotes and encourages mutual cooperation, discussion, and interest between law enforcement agencies and conducts seminars, conferences, and research into enforcement and education methods for the control of drug abuse.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, of Harrisburg, Pa, which spends 85 cents of each dollar on charitable programs supporting its stated mission: to provide education, training, and support for cancer prevention, recovery, and survival. Of every dollar, the organization spends only a dime on fundraising, according to the division.
Not all charitable organizations are the same. Many are volunteer groups that do honest, selfless work.
This is by no means comprehensive, but some of the most upstanding organizations include the 200 Club, Cop 2 Cop, Joan’s Joy, the National Police Defense Foundation, Giants of Generosity, the National Law Enforcement Museum, NJ Polar Bear Plunge, NJ Special Olympics and the Police Unity Tour.
The key is finding out, in advance, where your money is going. That goes double when dealing with anyone who contacts you by phone — something reputable charities will NOT do.
“Please use sound judgment and request information to be mailed to you so that you can review the request for any donation, and exactly where the funds are going for any ‘charitable’ causes, before you make any decision to contribute,” said Chris Burgos, president of the NJ state Troopers Fraternal Association.
The DCA drew up the “Most Inquired-About” list based on consumers’ calls to its Charities Registration Hotline: (973) 504-6215:
New Jersey Police Officers Association, Lyndhurst
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $931,126
Charitable program expenses: 10.8 percent
Fundraising expenses: 87 percent
Management and general expenses: 2.1 percent
U.S. Deputy Sheriffs Association, Houston, Texas
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $6,694,687
Charitable program expenses: 14.8 percent
Fundraising expenses: 78.7 percent
Management and general expenses: 6.5 percent
New Jersey Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association, Nutley
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/10: $278,661
Charitable program expenses: 33.3 percent
Fundraising expenses: 63.1 percent
Management and general expenses: 3.6 percent
Paralyzed Veterans of America, Washington, D.C.
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 9/30/10: $110,781,205
Charitable program expenses: 60 percent
Fundraising expenses: 31.8 percent
Management and general expenses: 8.2 percent
, Jacksonville, Florida
Wounded Warrior Project
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 9/30/2010: $34,843,801
Charitable program expenses: 64.1 percent
Fundraising expenses: 28.3 percent
Management and general expenses: 7.7 percent
Disabled American Veterans, Cold Spring, Kentucky
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $125,556,794
Charitable program expenses: 69.2 percent
Fundraising expenses: 25.9 percent
Management and general expenses: 4.9 percent
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/10: $6,443,579
Charitable program expenses: 69.7 percent
Fundraising expenses: 21.3 percent
Management and general expenses: 9 percent
Smile Train, New York, NY
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 6/30/2010: $86,267,187
Charitable program expenses: 78 percent
Fundraising expenses: 21 percent
Management and general expenses: 0.9 percent
United Service Organizations, Arlington, Virginia.
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $174,716,310
Charitable program expenses: 79.3 percent
Fundraising expenses: 13.5 percent
Management and general expenses: 7.2 percent
Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Total expenses for the fiscal year ending 12/31/2010: $9,064,681
Charitable program expenses: 85.5 percent
Fundraising expenses: 10 percent
Management and general expenses: 4.5 percent
DCA tips for donating:
•Find out whether the charity is registered in New Jersey, or is exempt from having to register (Certain religious and educational organizations, and charities whose annual income includes less than $10,000 in public contributions and fundraising, are exempt from having to register with the State).
•Find out how much the charity spent during recent fiscal years on program costs, management costs, and fundraising.
•Learn about the charity’s stated mission.
Consumers may obtain information about a charity in several ways: Ask the charity itself (reputable charities encourage you to do so); visit the charity’s website; visit the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Charities Registration page (www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov); or call the hotline during regular business hours.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of marketplace abuse, can file a complaint with the DCA by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
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