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No proceeds from fundraiser. What can I do?

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No proceeds from fundraiser. What can I do?

There is a ranch in our state that recently held a second fundraiser for a charitable organization. Although the owner advertised that the proceeds would go to the charity, the owner has kept the proceeds. His excuse is always "he didn't make anything." I have contacted the charity several times via email (can't find a phone number) without any reply. What can I do? Is there somewhere else I can report him?

I would start by doing a computer search for the charity’s phone number or checking the Form 990 tax information return on GuideStar.  Form 990 requires a phone number on page 1.   If that doesn’t work, I would look up the officers and directors of the charity (from their tax return on GuideStar if you don’t have any other source) to see if I could reach any of them independently.  They have the most to lose from someone raising funds in their name and not disbursing anything to them.

If that is a dead end or doesn’t bring results and if you are in one of the 38 states or the District of Columbia that has a charitable solicitation registration statute (it used to be 39 states but Arizona repealed its statute this year), I would check to see if there is a professional fundraising counsel or solicitor contract filed by the ranch owner or the charity.  If the charity is located in a different state, I would look there if that state has a registration statute.  These states usually have pretty strict rules for counsel or solicitors and usually prohibit solicitation in the name of a charity without some sort of written agreement.  I would report the situation to the state office that supervises these filings.

If there is no such office in either state, I would report to the state Attorney General or your local prosecutor.  Even without a registration statute, it sounds as though it could be misrepresentation, fraud, or perhaps even theft.  I applaud your effort to get to the bottom of the issue.  It is a disservice to all charities for operators to conduct “fundraisers” without raising any funds for the charities.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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