Donation confusion jeopardizes police programs

There has been some confusion about where FOP donations are allocated.
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Confusion over donations and who's asking for money may cost dozens of children their Christmas presents this year.

The Muncie Fraternal Order of Police says its fundraising efforts are being damaged by publicity about the fundraising practices of the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police.

Needy children find cheer every year through the "Shop With A Cop" program in Muncie.

"It's a good way to start Christmas, because it makes you appreciate what you have and they enjoy it so much," said Chuck Hensley, who coordinates fundraising for the Muncie Fraternal Order of Police.

Funded by the local FOP, the program may not be able to help as many families this year, because donations have taken a hit. Leaders say it's fallout from fundraising concerns with the State Fraternal Order of Police, a completely different charity with a similar name.

"We had to end up changing our caller ID, from 'FOP' to 'Crime Stoppers,' because it got so bad people would just hang up before we ever got a chance to talk," Hensley said. "We've had a real freeze up on donations and we have to tell them we're not that organization."

There is a difference in where your donated money is spent. 13 Investigates discovered tax documents from the State FOP show, last year, the organization raised more than $1.9 million through telemarketing calls to Hoosiers. But most of that money, $1.6 million, went to fundraising expenses, not programs.

Those numbers hurt Muncie's fundraising efforts, even though the local lodge says it sends 60 percent of its donations to programs, like Shop With A Cop, Crimestoppers, and baseball and softball for kids.

"The distinction, we have to make it quickly, because they just get really confused between the two groups," Hensley explained.

Part of the confusion for the local FOP is that the state FOP's call center is located in Muncie. That's where dozens of telemarketers make calls on behalf of the state organization.

But there is no call center at the local lodge. Their entire fundraising operation is in a tiny closet: four boxes, two phones and a phonebook.

"That's it. Very low-keyed," Hensley said.

Muncie leaders don't want to disparage the State FOP, but they do hope to clear up the confusion and convince donors to keep giving locally, so kids can keep receiving in times of need.

You can send donations for the Muncie Shop With A Cop program to the following address:

Muncie Christmas Shop With A Cop

300 North High Street

Muncie, IN 47305