Monday, June 18, 2012

Another CNN Investigation Unfolds

By Gary Snyder

CNN has been in touch with Nonprofit Imperative as its investigations have unfolded. Last month, NI   reported on how the Disabled National Veterans Foundation squandered and wasted millions of dollars in donations. Here we go again with the latest example of charity malfeasance that CNN has unveiled. My bet is that this is going to be a virtually never-ending issue.

Another Fundraising issue:
SPCA International raised $14-million raised in 2010, according to the charity’s informational tax filings, but it reported that it spent less than 0.5 percent—roughly $60,000—on animal-shelter programs in the United States. More money—about $450,000, or 3 percent of the total raised in 2010—was spent on a “Baghdad Pups” program, intended to bring back dogs used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the charity says only 26 of the nearly 500 animals returned to the United States from the region were actually service animals, with the rest being stray dogs. SPCA International, CNN found, is in debt to the fundraising company according to a company spokeswoman. According to publicly available Internal Revenue Service 990 tax records. In 2010, SPCA International owed $8.4 million to Quadriga Art LLC and its affiliated company, Brickmill Marketing Services.

Leadership and Background Check Failure:
SPCA International spokeswoman Terri Crisp appeared on CNN's sister network, HLN, last year. Crisp once headed a California-based animal rescue charity, Noah's Wish, which reached a settlement agreement in 2007 with the state of California. In that settlement agreement from the summer of 2007, Crisp agreed not to "serve as an officer, director or trustee or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director or trustee, with any non-profit organization for a period of five (5) years from the date of the execution of this Settlement Agreement." Yet in a filing with the North Carolina secretary of state's office last year, SPCA International named Crisp in its list of officers and directors. Crisp did not admit any wrongdoing in the California settlement, but the charity agreed to return $4 million in donations to California officials out of the $8 million raised by Noah's Wish.

Pierre Barnoti, who founded U.S.-based SPCA International in 2006, also has a questionable record as a charity manager. Three years after he founded SPCA International and became its president, Barnoti was fired as the Montreal SPCA's president after leaving the Canadian charity deeply in debt to Quadriga Art, according to Nicholas Gilman, Montreal SPCA's executive director.
Gilman said that the Montreal SPCA still owes Quadriga Art nearly $2 million and that the American fund-raising company has a lien on the Montreal organization's headquarters building.

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 (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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