BUFORD, Ga. -
A Gwinnett County police group admitted it can do a better job of making sure more donated money really gets to the needy children they promise to help.
The Gwinnett County Fraternal Order of Police became the latest group examined by the FOX 5 I-Team, following revelations that the DeKalb FOP raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the name of helping disadvantaged children, but spent only a fraction on those kids.
Since then, DeKalb temporarily shut down their phone room and their paid fundraisers. Gwinnett's was closed too, at least for the one morning they knew we were coming.
"It's unfortunate, but they saw the DeKalb story and said no. We work hard for our money. We do it properly," explained Ray Dunlap as the president of the Gwinnett County Fraternal Order of Police showed the FOX 5 I-Team the locked door to the lodge's phone solicitation room.
It meant we wouldn't get to see the people, or the room where this charity raised nearly $270,000 a year for needy kids.
In 2013, only $41,000 of that went to kids. That's about 15 percent of all the money collected.
"Is that the best you can do?" asked FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis.
"It's the best we can do right now,” countered Dunlap. “Like I said, we try to cut costs every place we can. But it is a business."
It certainly is a business. According to the charity’s own tax returns, $155,025 was spent for fundraising. That was more than three times the amount spent on needy children. The company hired to generate donations was LEO-AFC, Inc. One of the company owners: Gwinnett FOP President Ray Dunlap. He hired his son-in-law to run the phone room.
“I’m not getting rich off this,” he insisted. “It supplements my retirement a little bit. But the whole idea with starting this company up was not having to deal with the type of companies we were dealing with.”
Dunlap insisted previous fundraising companies kept even more money than his company, and often used deceptive phone solicitors.
But Elaine Phillips told the FOX 5 I-Team Dunlap’s company did the very same thing when she worked there five years ago.
"We make them feel sorry for the kids. And they would give,” remembered Phillips. She provided an example. “We got 100 kids left out of 250 kids. We just made up numbers. That's all we did."
“But that's not true,” Randy pointed out.
“No. That was just the way to get the money."
Dunlap claimed he no longer used those deceptive callers and now has every call recorded to make sure current solicitors follow the rules.
The 70-year-old retired Gwinnett motorcycle cop would not reveal how much he or his family made off the donations. The Better Business Bureau Guidelines for Giving call for no more than 35 percent of donations be spent on fundraising. The Gwinnett FOP spent 57%.
Randy: You’re way out of whack to what the Better Business Bureau suggests. How do you justify that?
Dunlap: I don’t justify it. We pay what we have to pay as far as expenses. The Fraternal Order of Police is here to help officers, help children and helping the community any way they can. We’re up front about everything. I’m upfront about everything. If it hurts fundraising, then ultimately it's going to trickle down and hurt the kids, too. We help between 250-300 kids a year that would not have shoes to wear when they go back to school. Or would not have toys underneath the tree at Christmas time.
Randy: Well, if you control this fundraising company, can’t you reduce the amount of money you’re taking in and give more to the kids?
Dunlap: As I said, we’re working on it all we can and we’ll have to work on it more. We need to provide more money where it needs to go.