America's worst charities

Our ranking based on cash paid to solicitors in the past decade

In detail#33: Reserve Police Officers Association

Also doing business as: Association for Deputy Sheriffs

Over the past decade, Reserve Police Officers Association has raised $8.7 million in donations by promising to support volunteer police departments.

Of every dollar given, Reserve Police has paid 90 cents to the professional solicitors it hires to call potential donors. On average, the group has spent less than $10,000 a year on cash grants and equipment for police departments.

The fraction of donations that the group keeps pays for legal fees, travel, a website and a conference that attracts about a dozen police departments.

Brooke Webster, the group's president, said because there are no paid employees, Reserve Police has no choice but to rely on professionals to raise money. Webster, who was formerly an auxiliary police officer, works full time as a sales manager for a hotel in Manhattan.

"The amount we get from fundraisers stacks up pretty well to other nonprofits," Webster said. "Reserve Police is difficult to sell to the public. People know what volunteer firefighters are, but not volunteer police."

The group's use of professional fundraisers has led to problems with regulators, however. One of its telemarketers closed in 2011 after Iowa regulators accused it of misleading donors. Two years earlier, Reserve Police Officers paid a $1,000 fine and agreed to stop soliciting in Washington state after regulators learned it was not registered there. The investigation began after a Washington resident complained about repeated phone calls from solicitors seeking money for the association.

Webster said a few problems are inevitable.

"You would not be able to run call rooms in all 50 states and not have regulator problems," he said. "Regulators make it so hard for fundraisers."

Reserve Police Officers Association is one of five groups on the Times/CIR list that is tax-exempt under IRS code but not as traditional 501c(3) charity. These groups still must register with state regulators to solicit donations, but the donations are not tax deductible. All five rely heavily on professional telemarketing companies to raise money.

In their own words: the Charity's mission

The Reserve Police Officers Association is a non-profit charitable and educational organization dedicated to the support of reserve police programs and officers, in recognition of their important role in enhancing law enforcement in the United States. This support takes the form of: -- Creating public awareness and support of the existence and contributions of reserve and auxiliary police programs. -- Financial assistance for disabled reserve and career police officers and to the families of those who have died in the line of duty. A roll of honor for reserve officers who have died in the line of duty is maintained on the association's website. -- Donation of equipment to law enforcement agencies with a particular emphasis on those which have reserve or auxiliary units. -- Providing training opportunities to reserve, auxiliary and special police officers at conferences and other venues. -- Serving as a contact point and clearing house for information on reserve and auxiliary police programs. -- Facilitating communication and the sharing of ideas between programs throughout the nation.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State

Reserve Police Officers Association

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Washington 1 Fine/penalties $1,000

Fundraising and spending history

For years prior to 2008, cash raised from other sources might be included in the "cash raised by solicitors" column.

Year 990
raised by
was paid
Cash to
the charity
Cash to
direct aid
% cash to
direct aid
totals to
2012 pdf $402,005 $320,744 $81,261 $1,500 $0 0.00% $46,362
2011 pdf $474,167 $400,527 $73,640 $1,339 $7,221 1.52% $38,717
2010 pdf $1,254,863 $1,174,869 $79,994 $3,365 $40,288 3.21% $58,650
2009 pdf $1,129,378 $1,057,643 $71,735 $1,000 $0 0.00% $62,922
2008 pdf $738,495 $668,991 $69,504 $1,500 $14,070 1.91% $61,176
2007 pdf $973,993 $849,271 $124,722 $0 $24,849 2.55% $88,349
2006 pdf $965,375 $825,513 $139,862 $0 $8,027 0.83% $94,327
2005 pdf $888,206 $791,874 $96,332 $0 $0 0.00% $57,762
2004 pdf $604,731 $530,531 $74,200 $0 $0 0.00% $60,408
2003 pdf $342,658 $234,250 $108,408 $0 $0 0.00% $69,667
zTOTALS $7,773,871 $6,854,213 $919,658 $8,704 $94,455 1.2% $638,340

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2009 Marketing Squad $52,073 $44,283 $7,790 14.96% phone solicit
2009 Lino's $41,426 $33,140 $8,286 20.00% phone solicit
2009 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $1,035,879 $980,220 $55,659 5.37% phone solicit
2010 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $1,221,201 $1,147,929 $73,272 6.00% phone solicit
2010 Lino's $33,662 $26,940 $6,722 20.00% phone solicit
2011 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $474,167 $400,527 $73,640 15.50% phone solicit