I was told very early on in the process of starting American Armor that fundraising is both the most important aspect of running a nonprofit and the most difficult. I quickly found this input to be true.
The same people, however, warned me not to fall for offers from "professional" fundraisers - especially telemarketing firms - who might approach me with offers that sound too good to be true. That advice got to the inquisitive side of me so I did a little research. It turns out that I could have very easily "hired" several firms who would charge the Foundation nothing up front, do all the work, and send us a check every month. Minus an exorbitant fee, of course.
Needled to say, I saw how such an arrangement could be bad news and swore to never go down that road. Instead, every donation we receive here is "organic", meaning that we earn them by reaching out to our personal contacts, through social media activity, and via word of mouth. This process isn't as lucrative as using telemarketers, but I get to sleep at night.
Why am I writing about this?
I was flipping through Facebook last tonight and I saw this headline: Georgia Police Fundraiser: Where did the money go? The headline was accompanied by an image of police officers holding body armor, so I was absolutely compelled to read it.
Basically, the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is using a telemarketing firm to generate donations that help them do important work on behalf of police officers...like buying body armor. The most recent campaign generated $556,220 in revenue, but the telemarketing firm (legally) kept 81.5% of it as a reward for all of its hard work.
Do you know how much body armor we could purchase with $556,220? That's about 1,240 vests!
Someone seriously asked me not too long ago, "why American Armor? Aren't there already other charities, like the FOP, that provide body armor?" I answered, "yes, but they must not being doing a good job because there are still officers going without it and many agencies have no idea they offer body armor grants." The article that prompted this post gives a great deal of credence to my assessment.
I want this organization to keep growing and to be the one that finally makes a lasting difference in our area of focus, but we won't do it dishonestly or by using tactics that make someone else rich off the generosity of the people who believe in our cause.
It's important to know where your donation is going. Our donors can rest assured that most of their money is buying body armor and that none of it is being squandered.