By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Unions for Otsego County deputies and corrections officers are doing fundraising themselves this year instead of hiring a firm so that more of the money collected can be returned to the community.
“We just try to help them out,” Sgt. Jack Wilkens, president of the Otsego County Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association, said Thursday.
The Deputy Sheriff’s PBA, the Criminal Division Road Patrol, and the Sheriff’s Benevolent Association, which is the Corrections Division, are working jointly to raise money, Wilkens said.
About 20,000 fliers seeking contributions and explaining changes have been mailed since June to seek contributions, Wilkens said, and about another 6,000 will be sent out later.
The decision was made about a year ago to conduct fundraising projects in-house instead of hiring an advertising firm to do the work, Wilkens said.
The advertising firm took a significant portion of the money it raised, Wilkens said, and the change in fundraising methods will mean that more of funds raised can go to local groups.
In December, the state Attorney General issued “Pennies for Charity: Where Your Money Goes.” The annual report on telemarketing said too much money was spent on fees and expenses and too little on charity. In nearly eight of 10 fundraising campaigns in 2011, charities retained less than 50 percent of contributions raised, the report said.
The report said in the Central New York and Western Adirondacks region, which includes Otsego and Chenango counties, the gross amount raised in 2011 was $1.06 million — of which 33.48 percent went to the charities.
According to an interim report filed with the state, Community Advertising Inc. raised $52,285 for Otsego County Deputy Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association, which received a net amount of $18,299.75, or 35 percent.
Community Advertising Inc., raised $53,095 for the Oneonta Police Benevolent Association, which netted $20,176.01, or 38 percent, the Attorney General’s report said.
Community Advertising raised $45,090 for the Chenango County Law Enforcement Association, which retained $15,781.50, or 35 percent, the report said.
There were no results for Delaware or Schoharie counties in a search of the report online.
The report said Community Advertising Inc. conducted 20 campaigns in 2011 and raised $1.01 million of which $420,380, or 40 percent, went to the charities.
Oneonta PBA and Chenango County Law Enforcement representatives weren’t available at 4 p.m. Thursday to comment on current fundraising methods.
Dick Levine of Community Advertising Inc. said the Attorney General’s report was one-sided and didn’t take into account the work and costs affiliated with raising money for charities. Generally, Community Advertising produces calendars for the charities with which it works, and also conducts telephone and mailing campaigns, he said Thursday.
According to the Otsego deputies PBA flier, the Benevolent Associations donated more than $14,500 to programs throughout Otsego County in 2012. Contributions were made to local chapters of national charitable organizations, such as Catskill Area Hospice, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, and to local events such as the Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump.
Wilkens said deputies have received some contributions and positive feedback about the switch. He said the PBA has 16 members, including patrol deputies, investigators and two road sergeants.
The flier said contributions aren’t tax deductible as charitable contributions.
A separate effort and mailing from the state Sheriffs’ Association seeks financial support for a summer camp program for children, Otsego Sheriff Richard Devlin said.