News 4 investigates non-profit fund raiser - KMOV.com

News 4 investigates non-profit fund raiser

(KMOV) -- News 4 is investigating non-profit organizations and the people who raise money for them. If you've ever thought about donating to a police or fire department News 4 went on the money trail.

Major Greg Thomas serves as the president of the Missouri Deputy Sheriff's Assocation. The organization works with a Florida fundraising company called Xentel.

In 2009 Xentel raised more than $277,000 on behalf of the Sheriff's Assocation. Nearly $222,000 went to Xentel, only $55,000 went to the Sheriff's. 

Bill Smith tracks non profits for the Better Business Bureau. He says Xentel raises money for at least three missouri non profits, including the missouri state council of firefighters. 

In 2009 Xentel raised more than $115,000 on their behalf, but only 20 percent, or $23,000 went to the firefighters. Nationally Xentel raised more than 1.9 million for the committee for missing children, 1.7 million of those donations went to Xentel only $235,000 to the missing kids committee. 

From his home in Calgary, Canada a Xentel spokesperson told News 4 its always easy to criticize what somebody else does when you don't know what there circumstances are. He adds the business is not highly profitable, that most of the costs go to overhead, including labor - which means paying the telemarkters.

And Xentel 's profit margin is only 3 to 6 percent. But it still doesn't change the reality - in many cases 80 percent of the money you donate doesn't go to the cause you're donating to. 

News 4 asked Major Thomas is he is happy with the arrangement.  Thomas replied, “This arrangement has worked very with us since we started a short while ago.” News 4 asked him would he donate to an organization knowing that 80 percent was going to an out of state fund raising company? Thomas said,”I've done it many times.”

Bill Smith with the BBB says it's important to ask questions. Xentel does not tell you during its fund-raising pitch how much goes to them, but if you ask they say they will provide that information.

Click here to view non-profits that have used Xentel for fundraising.

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