KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI – People should be aware of the potential for misleading charities that may solicit donations in the wake of Deputy Ryan Proxmire’s death, according to a press release from the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.
Proxmire, 39, died Aug. 15 after he was shot Aug. 14 during a police chase near Galesburg. Deputies were pursuing Vicksburg resident Kyle Goidosik, 35, who was shot and killed by deputies.
Historically, after the death of police officers, there are some groups that will try to take advantage of people looking to donate to help families or law enforcement, the organization said in a news release.
“Just because a charity name or description sounds like it will help a cause you support, that doesn’t mean that is what they really do,” BBB President Phil Catlett said. “We have identified some charities that have sympathetic names, but where 5% or less of the money spent goes to programming. Instead, more than 90% of their money goes to fundraising. That doesn’t end up helping the families in need.”
There is one verified effort to provide Proxmire’s family with financial assistance that is ongoing.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said it has verified the foundation will donate 100% of fundraiser proceeds to the Proxmire family.
An account is set up with Lake Michigan Credit Union for people who want to donate in person. Donations to the “Deputy Proxmire Donation” can be made at any branch.
As people seek to make donations to a variety of groups after incidents like this, the BBB of Western Michigan had a series of potential red flags they warned people to be aware of.
In some cases, money may not go to families, even if the name makes it sound that way, the release said. Instead, it may go to political groups who spend the money lobbying for change or education.
Using the words “police,” “law enforcement,” “trooper” and/or “sheriff” does not necessarily mean local police are involved in the fundraising, the release said.
The BBB suggests contacting local law enforcement to ask how to support them because agencies sometimes have a nonprofit type organization to donate to.
People should also be aware that donations to crowdfunding sites may not be deductible as charitable gifts for federal taxes, the release said. When giving through a crowdfunding site, make sure it’s connected to a family or group you want to support, the BBB cautioned.
The BBB also accredits charities who spend a minimum of 65% of their expenses on programming, which helps ensure most of the charity’s work is directed to people they say they are helping, the release said.
People can look up accredited charities online here.
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