Why are those who raise money to help the unfortunate unable to show that it went to the unfortunate?

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune

Why are those who raise money to help the unfortunate unable to show that it went to the unfortunate?

By Maramis

It doesn’t really matter which group has chosen which cause to support, if it sets itself up as a staunch supporter of that cause, then it should be relatively easy to prove that it is supporting that cause.

Anyone who chooses to donate to a cause wants to feel confident that the cause they are donating to is legitimate. Many people wouldn’t even donate before checking out that organization to see its rating on the “honesty (transparency) scale.” I myself have checked on the legitimacy of several charities only to discover that some actually spend more on the administration of the charity than the giving of the donations to the cause. You can be sure that I crossed them off the list of charities or causes I would continue supporting.

Usually, when you ask for the organization’s distribution of the funds they collect, you will be shown a breakdown of everything they spend their money on, sometimes in a pie chart: so much for advertising, so much for salaries, for his and that, and of course, one sliver or slice of the pie that goes to the actual charity.

Although all of the above applies to every charity and every cause to which one could donate — at least “official” or organized charities — there are always new ones cropping up that wouldn’t have any history (transparency) ranking. If it stirs up your feelings so that you really want to support its cause, you can take a chance and just ask them how much of the donated funds will go to the designated cause or people for which the charity exists. Then, hopefully, they will put you on an email list and keep you up to date when they start to develop a history.

Sad to say that one organization today is especially being called out for its lack of transparency. It appears that there was an article, written by Sean Campbell, that appeared in the Intelligencer on Jan. 31, 2022, entitled The BLM Mystery: Where did the money go? Having relatives that have not only donated to the cause, but heartily supported it when it first showed its face, I felt that reading the article would be a good thing for me to do to find out why that person was questioning the BLM’s legitimacy.

Near the start of the article, Campbell explained how BLM came to be. “Southern California’s Orange County has a century-long history of white supremacism. Klansmen patrolled Anaheim in white hoods and robes during the 1920s; in 1993, a Los Angeles Times headline asked if Huntington Beach was the ‘skinhead capital of the country.’ Today, fewer than 2 percent of its residents identify as Black. But Tory Johnson didn’t care. He started Black Lives Matter Huntington Beach after the murder of George Floyd. He and his fellow protesters were tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets. He went to jail for marching then, and he wasn’t going to let a racist rally occur in his city unchecked.

According to Campbell, Johnson moved to Huntington Beach at 26 and began mobilizing a counterprotest to a “White Lives Matter” event. He sent out a press release that stated: “White supremacy is not welcome here and we will do everything possible to prevent this rally and defend our community from racist terrorism.”

Only two days later, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, an organization that placed itself at the front of the movement for racial justice, issued a statement of its own by its co-founder and executive director, Patrisse Cullors.

According to Campbell’s article, Cullors’ statement sent the message, “We want to make it abundantly clear that Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and the Black Lives Matter Grassroots do not support counterprotesting.” It sounded clear that she did not want any competition.

What caught my attention is that a short list of BLM-associated names were starting to surface, even though Johnson’s group was not an officially recognized chapter of the larger organization, and received no support. Johnson was apparently losing ground, while Cullors could be found live on YouTube. She resigned her position as executive director six weeks later, claiming she needed time for other projects.

Some “official” BLM organizations have been reaping millions of dollars while other, more local ones, could barely survive. It seemed that profiteers were becoming more prevalent at the national level and no funds were going to the families of Black people killed by police.

In November 2020, according to the article, ten chapters of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation called for greater financial accountability since there was no acceptable way to determine where the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGNF was going.

BLMGNF responded that it had raised more than $90 million in 2020. It claimed $8.4 million in operating expenses, distributions of $21.7 million in grants to more than 30 organizations, and retained some $60 million in its coffers. No one was satisfied with that rendering.

The millions raised, with no accounting for the actual amounts collected and spent, have continued to be a critical issue for organizers. They want more details about the BLM’s finances.

And we can understand why. Some of the sound-alike names that have been used to confuse people and collect more money in one way or another for the BLM (deliberately or not) and for its other affiliated organizations are: Global Network Foundation (not to be mistaken for the dissolved BLM Global Network, the BLM Action Fund, BLM Grassroots, and the BLM Political Action Committee. Then there’s the BLM Global Network Project, which was replaced with the BLM Support Fund.

But no matter what names might be attached to the original organization of the BLM, or even how it started, the main idea for the take-away is to know to what organization (charity) you are donating, and to write to the organization for its financial statements and decide for yourself if it is legitimate and serving those for whom it was intended.

Black Lives Matter can serve those it was intended to serve, or it can show up in the news as being self-serving to those who feel they can spend millions on a luxury mansion and reward themselves in other ways.

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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramistribune@gmail.com.

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