The calls always seem to come when you least expect it. Solicitors asking you to donate to charity.
A 5 On Your Side viewer got one of those calls recently, asking him to support the National Police and Troopers Association. But before saying yes, he called us to ask if it was legit.
We set out to verify whether the charity exists and to show you how you can do the same thing.
As the owner and operator of Tinsley's Amusements, Richard Tinsley is never far from his phone. When it rang a few weeks ago and the person on the other end asked for money for the National Police and Troopers Association, Tinsley wanted to help.
“I feel like it's a good cause,” said Tinsley.
But once he hung up, he had questions.
“You know, who are these people? I did a little investigation and did what they tell you to do on TV and called the BBB,” he said.
The Better Business Bureau doesn't give the group a rating. But, it has compiled a long list of complaints.
Then Tinsley called 5 On Your Side and we dug deeper. We found the charity's website is owned by the International Union of Police Associations.
And 2017 financial records show the organization brought in over $16 million, but only gave charities $70,000.
The donated money went to causes including scholarships for people wanting degrees in law enforcement, the Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund in Sarasota, Florida and the Concerns of Police Survivors based in Camdenton, Missouri.
So where did the rest of the money go? Not the charities.
Instead, it went to things like employee salaries, administrative costs and a whopping $14 million for "professional fundraising services."
Tinsley wishes the caller would've told him that.
“I think they should, because in my business we can't hide anything,” he said.
But Tinsley said he’s still behind the cause.
“I have not made a contribution. But I probably will.”
5 On Your Side can verify the National Police and Troopers Association is an actual charity. It does give money, albeit a relatively small amount, to charitable causes.
You can check on a charity before you donate. Websites like Guidestar and Charity Watch have information on how much of your donation goes to the cause and how much is spent on overhead. It's always a good idea check before you open your wallet.
5 On Your Side reached out to the charity to talk more about the how they use donations. The organization didn’t respond by the time this story was published.