This week's Ask Evan question deals with donations to your local and state police departments. Carol G. asks: "Are police departments allowed to solicit for donations?"
We reached out to a few police departments in our area. The Pennsylvania State Police told us that they are completely self-funded and do not rely on donations from the people they serve. They do, however, accept donations to fund programs like their Camp Cadet program.
The Gettysburg Police Department in Adams County tell us that it does not solicit for donations from the public. Their funds come from the borough of Gettysburg. But they did say that they do reach out to the Legion in town asking for 'small' equipment donations.
The Carlisle Police Department in Cumberland County told us that they don't solicit for donations for their operations either, but do accept monetary donations for programs like Citizens Academy or the Junior Police.
Just recently, a secret Santa donated $5,000 to the police department in Lower Paxton Township. The department says they plan to fund a youth forensics academy and promote the health and welfare of the department staff.
We also reached out to the Department of State in Harrisburg to find out more. They said that anyone or any department can solicit for donations but the department says they would like that they belong to an organization.
Once the organization collects in excess of $25,000, they must register with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
Many police organizations also use professional fundraisers to collect money for the department on their behalf. But Consumer Reports urges people to beware of this technique.
Their report showed that some professional fundraising companies were taking 85 cents to the dollar. That left the police department with just 15 cents of every dollar donated.
What you should do
Consumer Reports has three tips. Check out the group before giving and never give on the spot. Check the Better Business Bureau, or Charity Navigator to see how the organization is rated. They also say to avoid the fundraiser. Instead, donate directly to the police department. And finally, verify that it's tax deductible. If you're counting on it, check first because some donations may not be eligible.
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