Your phone rings. You answer to hear a voice asking for a contribution to the National Police Support Fund. The caller tells you about how the organization is “dedicated to promoting the interests of law enforcement officers.” He also tells you the group is a nonprofit but may or may not quickly mention it’s a “527 nonprofit.”
The group is a real nonprofit organization, but it is a political group created “primarily to influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office.”
The person on the other end of your phone doesn’t tell you that. He also doesn’t tell you that none of the donations collected actually go to financially support local law enforcement.
If you ask him about the difference between the 527 and 501 nonprofit status, or how much of their donations go to local law enforcement, he will tell you to call 866-487-4515.
If you call the number, you will be connected with an answering service. The problem with that is the person answering the phone can’t or won’t answer any questions concerning the political aspect.
The group’s website clearly states that it is:
“A grassroots political organization that is committed to aligning the interests and needs of police officers with the public’s issues and concerns within the national political process.”
But that’s the group’s website says about itself. What do other people say?
Consumer protection groups, such as the Better Business Bureau, urge caution about donating to the fund, “due to its lack of transparency.”
In fact, there are numerous reviews and complaints regarding the NPSF on both the BBB and consumer review sites such as Yelp.
While Yelp is not necessarily the final authority on a group’s legitimacy, Simon Lewis, NPSF President felt the reviews warranted a response.
One complaint said: If anyone calls you from this organization, hang up!! I was suspicious of the call from the very beginning. The man wanted me to pledge a large $ donation. He started asking for credit card information.
When I refused to give him the credit information, he became irritated and transferred my call to another man. This man also tried to get my credit card information, but I refused.
I told him to send me something in the mail. Upon receiving a “form letter” with no individual signing the letter, I decided to research this organization. COMPLETE SCAM!!! They have been contacted by the BBB and have not cooperated. Everything I have found on this organization is negative!
Lewis responded: “We are sorry you had a negative experience with our fundraiser on the phone! We would like to look into this matter further, but we would need some additional information from you so we can see who called you and when so we can investigate it more in depth.
Would you be willing to send us an email at [email protected] so we can we learn more about your experience?
As for the BBB, we know there are some articles out there that misrepresent our relationship with them. We are currently working on being BBB certified and we are almost finished with the accreditation process. You can see our current B+ rating.”
Ah…that amazing B+ rating from the BBB. Here is what they aren’t telling you.
NPSF is not the ones making the calls. They are using other telemarketing firms, such as Residential Programs, Incorporated, who currently sport an ‘F’ rating from the BBB.
Others they use are The Fundraising Group, Grassroots Fund Group, LLC, and United Support LLC. NPSF paid those four groups $1,863,361 in 2018, to do their fundraising for them.
In fact, they use them for just about everything they need except banking, legal services and travel.
In just the 3rd quarter of 2018, NPSF spent over $422,000 dollars to Residential Programs for services that include carrier minutes and dialer expenses, consumer data, postage and freight, tele-fundraising, technology services, direct mail fundraising, caging and escrow and other professional fees.
The forms available on the IRS website reveal that the 3rd quarter is indicative of other quarters that they have filed since their 2017 inception. They reported contributions in the amount of $703,307. Their expenditures, according to that Form 8872? $708,206.
Their 2nd quarter filing showed that they spent $1,014,037 with only $972,145 coming in. In this quarter, they contributed $968,951 to themselves.
Their 4th quarter filing showed that they spent $782,959 while bringing in $777,184. In this quarter, they contributed $772,716 to themselves.
What did they spend all their money on? Bills.
Oh, they also don’t mention on the phone that the bulk of their contributions came from…wait for it…
Of the $703K in contributions for that quarter, $689,730 of it came from the fund itself.
As all contributors are required to list their address, occupation and employer.
The contributor in question lists an address of 2331 Mill Road, Suite 100, Alexandria, VA. Ironically, that is the same address of the group filing the 8872, NPSF.
The Form 990 that the Fund filed for 2018 show that they received $2,036,625 in revenue, and $1,957,616 in expenditures.
That leaves a total revenue of $79,009. Yet not a single document reveals that they spent a single dime on law enforcement groups or lobbying on behalf of the men and women in uniform at the local, state or federal levels.
Every penny they have spent are itemized as operating expenses.
Are you starting to see a pattern develop here?
The only quarter they were in the black was Q1 of 2018, netting $10,561, which they managed to lose over the next three reporting periods.
Furthermore, charity watchdogs say that a legitimate group will donate or contribute 65% of its funding to the cause it supports.
So, even if NPSF gave all $79,009 that it claimed as income for 2018 to law enforcement charities or actually spent it lobbying in favor of the men and women who strive to keep us safe, they would only be 3.87%, which is roughly 5% of what they bring in.
The reality is, they give 0% while claiming to support law enforcement and advancing their causes.
Hard to imagine them doing that when they don’t spend a penny to do what they say they are going to do.
So, if your phone rings, and the person on the other end says they are with the National Police Support Fund…hang up. Anything else is a waste of your time and possibly your money.
Unfortunately, these people are not the only ones who are taking advantage of the soft spot some people have for our law enforcement community.
LET Contributor Leah Anaya shared this story with us this week.
“I’m calling from the National Police & Trooper Association. We’re raising money for fallen police officers’ families today. Can I count on your donation?”
I have personally received this call more times than I can count from a man claiming to be with the NPTA.
The first couple of times (which was years ago, now), I was polite and told him that my husband and I were both LEO’s and aside from donating our lives to the career, we also donated to several police organizations already. The pushy caller didn’t want to take no for an answer, so I had to get a little more firm with him.
It turns out, I am not the only person who has had to do this. As a matter of fact, many people have taken to the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Youtube, Charity Navigator, and local news outlets to report their disapproval and concerns of the NPTA.
It’s difficult to obtain much information about the NPTA online, but what is easy to discover is the skeeziness and illegitimacy of the donation requests.
Numerous sources list NPTA as a scam, and a recent report from the Center for Public Integrity (which is a self-described “nonprofit newsroom that investigates betrayals of public trust”) reveals just how much of a scam it really is.
The association is listed as affiliated with the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA). The IUPA has several red flags of its own, according to Public Integrity, as well as other sources. The Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund is part of the IUPA as well, and allegedly provides financial support to families of fallen officers while they wait for their full benefits to kick in.
While the union flaunts itself as “the only union for law enforcement officers,” it is questionable in its reports of membership, which have been shown to be false on more than one occasion. The IUPA and the relief fund also uses almost 80% of its donated funds to pay telemarketers to obtain even more funds. You read that correctly.
It was found that only 2.7% of donations to the relief fund actually went to the families of fallen officers.
In about 7 years (through March 2018), the union and relief fund spent a total of approximately $102.3 million, of which $82.3 million went towards fundraising.
So what happened to the other approximately 33% of that money? It went straight to the effected families, right?
Granted, 11 families received a total of $72,000, and some of it (about $25,000, or $2,500 per person) went towards law enforcement student tuition and scholarships. The rest is a split between employee’s salary and benefits, buildings maintenance for its 10,000 sq. ft location in Sarasota, Florida, and “other expenses.”
IUPA executives are sure to make a handsome income, not least of which is the president of the IUPA, Sam Cabral, who rakes in just under $200,000 per year.
At the time of this writing, the relief fund’s website was no longer functioning.
Also affiliated with the union is a political action committee, Law Enforcement for a Safer America. This PAC raised $4.5 million from donors, and spent $4 million of that on fundraising.
This leaves very little to be spent on political advocacy, which is, after all, the actual purpose of a PAC to begin with.
What’s worse is the telemarketing companies IUPA used. Three of them have been negative subjects in similar investigations from Public Integrity. One, Outreach Calling, is run by Mark Gelvan, who has been banned in New York from conducting fundraisers due to his solicitors impersonating police officers.
Two others, Courtesy Call and Donor Relations, are run by Richard Zeitlin out of Las Vegas, who was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission as well as a Florida Grand Jury for “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”
Despite how shady and sneaky the union and it affiliates are with obtaining more and more money, they don’t do a very good job of hiding it. The vice president of the union, Michael Crivello, was also the founding treasurer of Law Enforcement for a Safer America. The websites even share layouts, color schemes, photographs, and fine print.
The union holds an annual golf tournament in Venice, Florida, and come September 2020 will host its 22nd international convention in Key West Florida, at the Waldorf Astoria’s Casa Marina, where attendees will enjoy 1,100 feet of private beach area.
Other names to beware of in association with the IUPA are the Police Officers Support Association and the National Emergency Responders Coalition, but now that Public Integrity has published their report, it would be wise to do extensive research into the organizations that you choose to donate to where claims of supporting law enforcement lie.
It is beyond disgusting that such a prominent and wealthy union group designed to assist our law enforcement communities and their families would see so little of that money going to those who need it.
Did you know that LET has a private home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Proceeds get reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
Not to mention the poor publicity this brings to the law enforcement world. There are so many negative narratives regarding LE floating out there right now, this does nothing to help it.
Conversely, organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police are completely up front with information such as its membership numbers (330,000 police officers according to the website) and let people know on the site that the National FOP doesn’t conduct telephone solicitations. IRS compliance information is also located directly on the page. Interestingly, the FOP doesn’t even have a “donate” button on their website, where as the option to donate is front and center for all of the other aforementioned groups in this writing.
The FOP has a Disaster Relief Fund which does have information for donations (it asks donors to text (615) 640-1317, and states contributions ARE tax deductible). There is also information for all to view on the incidents the organization has responded to and provided funds and supplies for, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Haiti earthquake, floods, fires, and tsunamis.
This is the type of information that should be transparent so people know the organizations they’re donating to is properly using their hard earned dollars.
Do your homework when deciding who to contribute to.
For example, Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) has the highest rating on all of the watchdog groups. We know because we checked when deciding which non-profits that support law enforcement and survivors that we as an organization support.
Police officers and their families most definitely need and deserve to be supported when tragedy strikes. Let’s just make sure we are contributing to the correct sources to make that happen.
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