Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Update: Audit Catches World’s Largest Workplace Charity Fundraiser

By Gary Snyder

UPDATE: An audit that uncovered nearly $1.1 million in questionable expenses by the Washington-area Combined Federal Campaign has shaken federal employees' faith in the government's charity drive and prompted a crackdown on spending. The National Capital Area CFC is the largest in the nation, and last year it collected more than $64 million in pledges from federal employees and military service members. 

Another Office of Personnel Management inspector general (IG) report, dated Feb. 14, criticized the United Way of Ventura County's management of the California Gold Coast CFC, the fourth-largest campaign in California. That report questioned $114,161, including $92,940 that was not distributed because United Way of Ventura County did not properly allocate or account for those funds during the 2009 campaign.

The report said a full month of CFC deposits was inadvertently left off the United Way of Ventura County's spreadsheet and was not disbursed, which contributed to the $92,940. The IG said it never received any response to the audit from the United Way of Ventura County.

The IG recommended sanctioning the United Way of Ventura County and banning it from participating in the CFC in the future. On March 12, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry sent the United Way of Ventura County President David Smith a letter banning his organization from participating in the next CFC. Berry said the United Way of Ventura County's lack of cooperation with the OIG was a major reason it was debarred. The United Way of Ventura County responded to Berry's letter March 27, outlining steps it has taken to address the problems identified in the audit. But Smith said his organization will not appeal Berry's decision to bar the United Way of Ventura County from participating in the CFC.

The largest single expense questioned by the OPM IG in the case of the Washington-area campaign was an $11,315 night out at a Washington Nationals baseball game in 2007. As a kickoff for the 2007 CFC campaign, Global Impact, the non-profit that manages the charity,  brought more than 600 campaign managers, agency executives on loan to CFC, charity workers and their friends to the game, at which retired Adm. Thad Allen, former Coast Guard commandant and CFC's honorary chairman, threw out the first pitch. Other expenses included $680 spent on chair massages in 2007 and 2008. (link)

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, ,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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