AG Horne Joins Fire Fighters To Commemorate 9/11 Anniversary And Caution Consumers About Charitable Organizations

PHOENIX (Friday, September 9, 2011) -- As the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, Attorney General Tom Horne, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona (PFFA) and the United Phoenix Fire Fighters are urging Arizonans to be cautious about charitable organizations that purport to aid fire fighters.

“Fire fighters and other first responders perform an invaluable service for the public and it is important to support charitable operations that serve these brave public servants and their families,” Horne said. “Unfortunately, some organizations claim to support charitable operations, but only a very small percentage of monies donated assists those in need. There are resources that allow consumers to determine how much of their donation is spent on the organization’s salaries and expenses and how much is used for the charitable purpose. People need to make use of those resources to ensure their money is spent in the way they intend.”

Horne added, “As an example, the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, Incorporated, an Arizona corporation, claims to assist fire and disaster victims, fund fire safety and first aid programs, support volunteer fire departments and other initiatives. According to I.R.S. documents, this foundation reported total expenses of $6,433,542 in 2009. Of that, $5,430,346 – which is 84 percent of total expenses – was reported as professional fundraising fees, $571,520 – which is 9 percent of total expenses – was reported as Organization expenses. That leaves a mere 7 percent of the total expenses, or $431,676 reported as actually going to the charitable activities.”

The PFFA and United Phoenix Fire Fighters released the following statement:

“The PFFA and its 6,500 members across Arizona are concerned with the proliferation of scams where less than honest individuals who claim to represent fire fighters are preying upon honest citizens who believe that they are assisting either fire fighters or the victims of tragedy.

While Fire Fighter charities do raise over a million dollars a year to help our community charities such as MDA, the Foundation for Burns and Trauma and dozens of other legitimate nonprofit organizations none of this is done by individual solicitation. These funds are raised by direct contributions by our own members or by wonderfully generous members of the Arizona business community. 100% of this money is used to support the non profits of Arizona who care for our neediest, most vulnerable citizens. No money is used for or given to fire fighters.

If you receive a phone call at your home asking for a contribution to fire fighters, it is a fraud. If you receive an e-mail it is a fraud. If someone knocks on the door of your home asking for a donation to fire fighters it is a fraud.

After September11th 2001 when the generosity of Arizonans was overflowing and nearly everyone wanted to donate to the Fire Fighters we asked, instead, that you contribute time or money to your favorite charities.

Ten years later the members of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona ask that you continue with your generosity to the many legitimate charitable organizations in Arizona. There is great need for donations to our local food banks and other non profits.”

If you would like to donate to an Arizona fire fighter charity, call the United Phoenix Fire Fighters at 602-277-1500. For information on legitimate fire fighter charities, consumers may also check, or to research a charity.

Horne concluded, “Arizona consumers need to research organizations to which they consider making contributions. Donations should always be made by check; credit card information should not be given over the phone.”