My son recently went on a student trip with a nonprofit organization. We were very disappointed in the difference between what they had advertised and what they actually delivered. We paid $2500 and did not get what they promised. How can I report my experience to an agency that will look into this?
Ordinarily, unless something really untoward happened, I would just say chalk it up to bad luck and learn from the situation. But in this case, you might want to complain to the Attorney General for consumer affairs either in your home state or the state in which the organization is located.
Why do I say that in this case? Because I looked at the organization’s website and found some really sloppy, and potentially disturbing things. It is a significant organization that works with students all over the country and has a lot of big names on its Board. But it asks for contributions and tells me it is a 501(c) organization. Then it tells me my contribution “might” be tax deductible if I consult my tax adviser. If it is not a 501(c)(3) organization my donation is not likely to be tax deductible, but it starts out by failing to tell me it is a (c)(3). (See Ready Reference Page: “What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Nonprofit’?”) Then it allows me to sponsor a school or a student, with a proper participant code. Is it allowing donors to “sponsor” specific students, where the contribution would not be deductible, and letting them think it is deductible? I didn’t have a code so I couldn’t see what it says.
I checked on GuideStar to see that it actually is a (c)(3). It claims to file its Form 990 in more than 20 states, which is usually required for charitable solicitation registration. It is registered to solicit contributions in its home state, but it is not current in either of the other two states I checked.
I admit that I am a little nerdy about this kind of thing, but I am sure I am not alone. I point it out simply to warn charities that some people actually read what they say on their websites, and, to avoid raising suspicions, those sites ought to reflect care and compliance with the law.
February 17, 2009
Legal Issues in Volunteer Involvement:
Maximizing the Benefits, Minimizing the Risks
Pre-recorded Webinar -
This pre-recorded webinar discusses: risk management and the organization's liability for the acts of volunteers; legal responsibilities in screening and placing volunteers; liability for harm to volunteers; applicability of volunteer protection statutes and workers' compensation statutes; insurance coverage and indemnification issues; applicability of employment discrimination laws; and more. The session also discusses confidentiality, protection of intellectual property, volunteer contracts, and ways to minimize risk through training and supervision. Learn to balance the risk of possible problems against the risk of turning away valuable volunteer support.
Weekly question and answer
Notice of each full edition
and its free stories
Report on 501(c)(3) electioneering
What our readers say about Nonprofit Issues
Once again you've tackled a tricky question and explained it so we all can understand the issue.--M.V.
Thank you for your informative and keen advice on nonprofit matters. I believe it's a unique and concise place to get answers to this often wispy area called nonprofit. --R.T.
Have a question?
Other ways to
Talk to the Editor
Next Conference Call:
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Participate in this bi-monthly telephone seminar conference call and ask your questions directly to Editor Don Kramer.
Access the entire site
($9.95/24 hours, $17.95/3 months).
Full Day Program
A well-received full-day program that covers the current hottest topics in nonprofit law. Qualifies in Pennsylvania for Continuing Education credits.
Don is available for programs and speaking engagements ranging from a one-hour presentation to a full-day primer on nonprofit law. Contact us if you are interested in having him speak at your program.