November 2018



According to a published report, donations to the Clinton Foundation dropped sharply in 2017, continuing a trend that that has now gone on for three consecutive years.  In 2017, the Foundation received $26.6 million as compared to $62.9 million the year before. This represents a decrease in donations of almost 58%.


Proposition C, in San Francisco passed overwhelmingly by a margin of 60% to 40%.  The proposition proposed a tax to inject the most money ever directed to city homeless programs by taxing big businesses to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. (Commentary - Major business interests oppose this proposition and you can expect to see litigation to delay its implementation.) 

 On November 13th, the Attorney General announced a jury verdict in favor of the state against individuals who fraudulently solicited charitable donations on behalf of wounded veterans.  Two charities and several individuals were involved.  The jury returned a breach of fiduciary duty judgment against the individuals for using charitable funds for private purposes and obtained a separate order from the court dissolving the two charities.  The two charities at issue were the Wounded Warriors Support Group and Central Coast Equine Rescue and Retirement.  Both groups were supposedly located in Carmel, California.


The Federal Trade Commission received 2465 reports of fraud from Connecticut residents during the months of July, August and September.  According to the report issued by NBC Television Station in Hartford, the average loss was $337.00 per report. 


The Des Moines register reported that the Trump Administration pushed The National 4-H Youth Organization to withdraw their controversial policy welcoming LGBT members.  The International Youth Organization, according to the article, has 6 million members and had recently passed new guidance to ensure that LGBT members felt protected in their local 4-H program.


“Give to the Max” day, the unofficial statewide giving holiday, raised $21.07 million dollars, beating last year’s record.  More than 50,000 individuals donated to thousands of state based charitable organizations.


The Starkville Daily News reported on November 13, 2018, that a local priest was at the center of a criminal investigation that involved a string of fraudulent charity appeals that federal agents believed were covered up by church leaders in Jackson, Mississippi.  The Catholic Diocese of Jackson post on its website acknowledged that federal agents served search and seizure warrants on the Chancellery office and on St. Joseph Parish, on Wednesday, November 7th.  To date, no formal charges have been filed.

 New Jersey:

Remember seeing on television or reading in the newspaper about the homeless man who gave $20.00 to a woman who had run out of money and gasoline?  According to the story, the young couple befriended the homeless man and opened a GoFundMe page, which generated $400,000 in contributions.  It was a feel good story but it all went wrong.  The Burlington County prosecutor announced criminal charges against the couple as well as the homeless man, all of whom conspired together to tell their story.  The prosecutor said, “the entire campaign was predicated on a lie, it was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.”

 New York:

A motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of the state of New York against the Trump Foundation has been denied.  The state has alleged that the Foundation violated charity laws by improper management of the foundation and breaches of fiduciary duties.  In his ruling the court said that it was fair for the Attorney General to argue that the President used the Donald J. Trump Foundation to advance his campaign.

 North Dakota:

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the Attorney General obtained a judgment against three residents of New York who formed nonprofit corporations using the names such as “American Cancer Society of North Dakota”.  The American Cancer Society initiated the complaint.  The court found the fake charities engaged in consumer fraud by using names deceptively similar to popularly known charities and ordered the charities to be dissolved and banned from future charitable solicitations in the state.

South Carolina:

The Secretary of State issued a report showing the high cost of fundraising suffered by some organizations.  The report disclosed that one fundraising bingo operation actually lost money for the charitable organization.  In other cases, the charities netted only 1%.


The Attorney General announces it had obtained a preliminary injunction against Spanaway-based Fallen Hero bracelets, the Benjamin Foundation and other organizations run by Michael Friedmann.  The court order forces the organization to cease operations until they register with the Secretary of State and provide financial reports for each year of their existence.  Likewise, a prohibition against abusive conduct towards any past or present customers was also ordered. 


The Girl Scouts of the United States of America has sued the Boy Scouts of America in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, see Case No. 18-CV-10287, over their proposed new name “Scouts”.  In the lawsuit, the Girl Scouts claim their right to the use of the word “Scout” and “Scouting”.  Marketing to girls has long been recognized both by the law and by the Boy Scouts.  The suit alleges that the decision by the Boy Scouts to open all its programs to girls has crossed the line.  The Girl Scouts are seeking an order blocking the Boy Scouts from using the term “Scout” and other derivatives of the word without having a distinguishing term appearing immediately before it. (Commentary - The issue is whether either organization can use the word “Scout” or some other such word standing alone as to include both by boys and girls.  According to what I have read, this is not the first time the two have been in court.  Apparently, a century ago the Boy Scouts sued the Girl Scouts for using the name “Scout”.  Obviously, they didn’t succeed.  Now the table has turned.)

 Donor-Advised Fund Report:

Grants from Donor-Advised Funds to qualified charities grew 19.9% to a record $19.08 billion, increasing the payout rate to 22.1% according to just released 2018 Donor-Advised Fund Report as published by the National Philanthropic Trust.  The 12th Donor-Advised Fund Report found growth in every key philanthropic benchmark with Donor-Advised Funds representing 10.2% of all individual giving in the U.S.


The estate tax exemption is going up in 2019.  The IRS announced that the new exemption will be $11.4 million per individual which is an increase from $11.18 million in 2018.  The annual gift exclusion amount remains the same at $15,000 per person.