ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Give to the Max Day raised $23 million for more than 6,000 organizations last year, but one Minnesota woman is calling the legitimacy of some of those non-profits into question after discovering several non-profits listed aren’t in good standing.
Before people start donating for the annual day of giving in Minnesota, she wants more people to be aware of where their donations are going.
Monday, Michele Anderburg found troubling news about Almost Home Shelter, a Mora-based animal shelter which was listed on GiveMN.org. She learned the shelter lost its nonprofit federal tax exemption status or 501c3 in May 2016.
After more digging she found Lazy J Ranch and Horse Rescue are others with the same problem, still listed on the donation giant’s website. Upon her discovery, Anderburg gave Give MN a call.
“When I asked them are you returning the money to the people that donated, where’s the money going? They won’t answer,” said Anderburg.
The IRS Charities & Nonprofits listings reveal Anderburg’s claims are accurate.
“I’ve found some non-profits that their 501c3 has been revoked, yet they’re on the Give MN site as active to donate to - where’s that money going to?” she said.
To her question, Give MN cited privacy reasons.
“Now I’ve been referred to the AG’s office if I want questions answered,” said Anderburg. “They’re required to be transparent to the public, especially when it comes to questions related to finances.”
Fox 9 took Anderburg’s questions to Give MN’s executive director, Jake Blumberg, who says representatives answered her questions. A screengrab of their responses to Anderburg’s digital question, however, corroborates her claims.
“Nothing falls through the cracks, we are responsive to individuals when things come up,” said Blumberg.
Blumberg says Almost Home Shelter’s listing was removed shortly after Anderburg alerted them to her concerns.
“We are only as good as the paperwork at the time though, so at the time when an organization’s status is checked, if it’s not flagged, then a disbursement goes through,” he said.
Blumberg says $281.01 has been donated to Almost Home Shelter through Give MN since May. Anderburg says she still wants to know where that money went.
“That’s the magic question, where is it? That’s what I can’t get answered,” she said.
“Our policy is not to refund it directly to the donor, but instead to give the organization time to get itself back in good standing because it’s not always a bad moment here, sometimes this is a paperwork situation with the IRS,” said Blumberg. “So we take up to two years for the money, and it sits in the foundation. It’s held, it’s tracked and if the donor comes back to us and asks for a refund, we take that on as a case by case basis. If the money is not given back to the donor, it goes back to the non-profit community through Give MN’s Give to the Max Day promotion.”
Over the last eight years, Blumberg says Give MN has raised $163 million in donations. Of that money Blumberg says “only $20,000” hasn’t been successfully distributed.
“We have The K Foundation in place to make sure those organizations are vetted in between now and then,” he said. “We’re only as good as the paperwork given at that time, but donors should feel confident in Giving to the Max and giving year round through GiveMN.org.”
But for Anderburg, the middle man and Give MN’s claim that donations go “directly to non-profits through The K Foundation” raises even more questions and concerns.
“It should go where it’s going to do the most good, if you can’t bother to keep your 501c3 as a non-profit, what else are you doing?” said Anderbug. “I don’t want to give you my money. It’s that simple.”