Police Protective Fund

Listed #23 on

THE WORST CHARITIES, RANKED BY MONEY BLOWN ON SOLICITING COSTS

The article goes on to say:

Since the 1990s, David Dierks and Phil LeConte have launched three nonprofits to help police officers. Initially, all three organizations relied on outside solicitors for the majority of their revenue.

From 2001-2003 the organizations paid a combined $16.5 million to for-profit solicitors. In 2004, the in-house telemarketing centers staffed by charity employees became the major source of donations.

Today, Police Protective Fund is the only organization still in operation.

From 2001 to 2010, Police Protective Fund raised about $50 million, and reported spending about 85 percent of that on fundraising, including the cost of running its phone rooms in the Tampa Bay area, where callers talk to potential donors about police safety. The charity paid about $14.8 million of its total fundraising bill to private solicitors.

The charity pays about $1 million a year to a company owned by one of its employees to acquire donor lists and rent phone room equipment.

In 2003, Police Protective Fund changed its mission from providing aid to officers to promoting their well-being through education. The move makes it easier for the charity to count its telemarketing operation as an educational program. Callers asking for donations also remind people who pick up the phone to be cautious when driving near police officers. Those calls and related mailings represent the charity’s biggest program expense.

From 2001 to 2010, the charity spent $260,000 total on direct cash assistance, including benefits provided to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, according to tax filings.

Nonprofits run by Dierks and LeConte, including Police Protective, National Association of Veteran Police Officers, later renamed American Association of Police Officers, and Junior Police Academy, have been sued by regulators in at least six states, including Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts. States accused charity employees of falsifying documents and overstating charitable deeds. Telemarketers went as far as pretending they were police officers to raise money, according to complaints filed by California and Illinois.

Dennis Haley, a Special Agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the past 27 years, joined the advisory board of Police Protective around 2003. He had worked with LeConte’s father in Illinois, but said he hasn’t been involved in five or six years, since the organization was sued by the California attorney general.

“It bothers me that they have unscrupulous people that they hired and that my name is associated with it,” he said. “It could be a really good program. I’m just sorry to hear that the bulk of the money isn’t going to where it’s supposed to go.”

Dierks touted the organization’s efforts to reduce traffic-related law enforcement deaths. “These deaths often involve ordinary citizens who don’t follow proper driving habits or who don’t observe the safe zone when encountering first responders,” he wrote in an email. “The Police Protective Fund reaches nearly 1 million households each year with our message to ‘Proceed with Caution.'”