Friday, February 22, 2013

WARNING: This Is Why You Should Be Circumspect In Choosing A Charity

by Gary Snyder

When John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino launched a charity website, the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation, they claimed to be storm victims raising money for others who had also suffered devastating losses. Unfortunately they used donations to pay off credit card debt and other personal expenses...almost all of the $631,000. 

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs alleges that they transferred $13,000 out of the foundation’s storm relief bank account to cover home heating oil and meals at restaurants. Meanwhile, less than one percent of the money they raised has allegedly been paid out to help victims of Sandy.

Further, the state alleges Sandberg and Terraccino violated charity law by soliciting donations under a moniker similar to another organization, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, chaired by New Jersey first lady Mary Pat Christie. The website falsely claimed that donations are tax deductible, according to the DCA complaint. 

The foundation is not listed in the IRS database of exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups. The state asked the defendants to shut down their website but the page was still up and accepting donations through a PayPal account days after its request.

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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