Donor Boner

Do you get the impression now and then that governments at every level have been going out of their way lately to inspire your outrage and loathing?  Try this one on:

North Miami, which has raised more than $100,000 to help Haiti in funds purportedly earmarked for the Red Cross, decided to disburse the money to three groups, including an inactive nonprofit. — Miami Hurled

According to this report, they raised $116,000 on the city website, the whole time claiming that funds raised would go to Red Cross.  But they split $100,000 between Red Cross and United Way Miami-Dade, and handed the remaining 16 Large to  “Nord Ouest Environmental,” which, “[a]ccording to state records…is an inactive nonprofit organization. The group’s name does not appear in the Internal Revenue Services database of tax deductible organizations.”

It gets even better.

The funds, donated by residents and local businesses, have been sitting in a city bank account since March. North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre went to Haiti in July to present an oversized $200,000 check to the Haitian government, $84,000 more than the city had actually collected.

This sham PR maneuver isn’t only dishonesty incarnate, it mocks the people to whom it is intended to help.

Finally, there’s this:

Council members said some donors did not want the funds going to the Red Cross, hence their decision to split up the money.

This wasn’t Council’s decision to make.  If “some donors” didn’t want funds going to the Red Cross, then they should have directed them elsewhere, and not co-mingled them with this campaign.  Donors have the right to give what they want, and to whom they choose, but they do NOT have a right to change the rules of the campaign once it starts and donations have already been committed under those rules.  It sounds to me like Council committed fraud.

At this writing, the website still maintains that “Our fundraising efforts will benefit the Red Cross at this time.”

There are many lessons to be drawn from this, but here’s the crux: As a rule, government entities are less trustworthy and capable than non-profit organizations in matters of philanthropy.  In this particular case, Council had no business getting involved: they’re too damn stupid, unsophisticated, corrupt, insensitive, and arrogant.  If their intention was to help the Red Cross, donors should have had the means to send funds to Red Cross directly, where it could accumulate in a separate designated account.

One other point: NEVER donate funds to an eleemosynary organization whose papers aren’t in order.  The non-profit status must be current, its reports filed with the IRS, and its books open for inspection.  “Nord Ouest Environmental” might be legitimate – I don’t know – but if its filings are problematic, it isn’t eligible for charitable receipt.

As a non-profit professional (when I’m actually working), I’m outraged by this episode, and were I a resident of North Miami I’d raise legal hell, which is what the Association of Fundraising Professionals (M-D chapter) should do.  These monkeyshines go on all the time throughout south Florida – we’ve been a national laughingstock among professional fundraisers for decades, now – and when it’s abetted by oafish elected officials out to indulge their own personal interests, it cheapens what should be a very noble and admirable endeavor.

There.  I got to use “eleemosynary” in a blog post.

This entry was posted in News From the Nation's Dicktip. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Donor Boner

  1. "Esq." a Lawyer says:

    You note, At this writing, the website still maintains that “Our fundraising efforts will benefit the Red Cross at this time.”

    Technically, that’s true. It doesn’t claim that efforts will exclusively benefit Red Cross.

    But ethically, that’s sneaky and misleading, not what you want (even if what’s you sadly expect) from leadership.

    I find a further outrage in Councilman Jean Marcellus’ remark about the $16,000 to the questioanle charity: “I think it’s a shame on us to make a big circus out of that little bit of money.”

    That “little bit of money” is the sum of many people’s generosity, given in good faith. It wouldn’t matter had it been two thin dimes. This kind of sniffing arrogance speaks again to the poijt about despising government.

  2. Barbara Ganoush says:

    My office wanted to do something for Haiti at the time of the earthquake, too, so we had a little in-office event, raised a little over $1,500, and sent it to the Salvation Army with instructions to apply it to their Haitian efforts. We got a letter of thanks back with assurances that our directions would be followed.

    The only downside is, now we get monthly requests for support from the Salvation Army! But that’s fine, even admirable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s