Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part Daily Mail analysis of charitable spending. Monday's edition featured a look at spending by a grouped purported to help veterans.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every year, law enforcement organizations around the country raise money so troopers and officers can take needy children shopping during the holiday season.
But for some of those organizations, most of the money donated to these "Shop with a Cop" programs and similar endeavors instead goes toward raising more money and other costs.
A Daily Mail analysis of tax records found eight different deputy sheriff's associations raised almost $2 million through fundraising since 2009.
They paid more than $1.3 million -- about 67 percent of the money raised -- for those fundraising efforts. Less than 20 percent went to charitable programs, scholarships, donations or similar expenses.
The Better Business Bureau says no more than 35 percent of a charitable organization's expenses should go toward fundraising. Nonprofit charity watchdog group Charity Navigator says an organization shouldn't spend more than 25 percent of its funds on fundraising and administrative costs combined.
Officials call the professional solicitors a "necessary evil" to support those charitable programs. But they also admit most of the money donated over the phone goes to the person on the other end of the line.
Many counties have active deputy sheriff's associations, and most are members of the West Virginia Deputy Sheriff's Association, said Todd Murray, treasurer for the state association.
Murray retired in January as chief deputy of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department after 20 years. The association relied on donations solicited by telemarketers "long before" Murray became treasurer seven or eight years ago, he said.
"I would imagine that (people) would know that the fundraising company, that's their business, that's how they make money," Murray said.
"But what percentage (of donations they keep), I don't know if the general public would know that."
The association raised nearly $500,000 from 2009 to 2011, according to tax records. More than three-quarters of that money -- $388,000 -- went to professional fundraising. The association received about $20,000 in membership dues each of those years, according to tax records.
It spent the bulk of the money it kept, about $114,000, on office expenses and travel, according to tax records.
State association tax records say the organization provides money for legal services, life insurance, conferences, education, program services and public safety. Murray said the association regularly lets county associations know about changes in law and offers conferences or other forms of training for association members.
County associations have more success raising money through local events like golf outings or direct mailings signed by the sheriff, Murray said. The state association lacks that personal connection to the community and must rely on telemarketers, he said.
"I think a lot of us are looking at other avenues because we would like to be out of the telephone solicitation business," Murray said.
He said about half of the local associations use telemarketing.
A Daily Mail analysis found at least seven county associations also spend more than half of the money they receive every year on professional fundraising.
Associations in Brooke, Harrison, Jefferson, Logan, Marion, Monongalia and Wood counties all spent more than half of the money they received in recent years on fundraising expenses.
Nonprofit databases GuideStar.org and FoundationCenter.org had tax information readily available for those county associations. All spent at least $12,000 on fundraising efforts during a single year since 2009.
The Daily Mail included information only for associations with at least three years of recent tax records readily available.
The Harrison County Deputy Sheriff's Association raises money every year to support the organization and conduct charitable programs like "Shop with a Cop."
It uses a paid telemarketer to solicit donations. From 2010 to 2012 it received more than $329,141 in contributions, according to tax records.