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Matching your donation with your intention—why information matters

By Holly Ivel & Jen Bokoff
June 18, 2020

At Candid, we’re constantly immersed in a sea of data. As our mission statement states, we get people the information they need to do good. As an information hub that informs people directly and through other platforms, we’ve seen firsthand that even with trusted information, it is prudent to look a little deeper.

A recent flood of gifts to the Black Lives Matter Foundation by donors who may have intended to give to the Black Lives Matter movement offers this valuable lesson.

The Black Lives Matter Foundation (EIN: 47-4143254) is a 501(c)(3) organization in good standing with the IRS. Candid’s GuideStar database comprehensively includes all organizations included in the IRS Business Master File (BMF). The foundation’s stated mission is “to help survivors and families that have suffered from the loss of a relative or loved one as a result of an unjust or questionable police shooting, and use our unique and creative ideas to help bring the police and the community closer together to save lives.”

Black Lives Matter was founded as a movement, not an organization, and therefore it does not appear in our database. Its stated mission is “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

Our data on nonprofit organizations integrates with AmazonSmile, Network for Good, and Facebook, to name a few. The integrations allow users to get top-line information about nonprofit organizations to help them make informed giving decisions.

We share data as we always have—with rigorous consistency. So when an organization legally has “Black Lives Matter” in its name, that’s a fact that we can’t change. (There are many, many organizations with shared phrasing in their names—this is not a new or unique situation.) We are also—intentionally—not a watchdog; we share information objectively.

How to make sure your donation goes where you want it to 

Where you put your money matters. “Sound-alike” organizations and initiatives often do not share missions or approaches. Reading beyond names and headlines to understand an organization’s mission, approach, budget, and leadership are important to do anytime you make a gift. This should be as regular a practice as not resharing an article that you didn’t read on social media. Now and always, make sure you know what entity you’re giving to.

For those who intended to donate to the Black Lives Matter movement, it receives funds through a fiscal sponsorship agreement with Thousand Currents (EIN: 77-0071852). A fiscal sponsorship is a common arrangement whereby a group or individual can ask for grants and tax-deductible donations under a sponsor’s exempt status. (If you want to give to a fiscally sponsored organization, make sure you designate the recipient. Otherwise, the donation may go to the fiscal sponsor, not the program or movement you’re supporting.) According to the Nonprofit Law Blog, “A fiscal sponsor will be responsible for all of its own actions, including any authorized actions taken by its agents. And if any liability results from those actions, the fiscal sponsor and possibly its board will be liable. So, it’s not a relationship to enter into lightly.”

Especially in movement work, there are many informal or indirect channels for giving that are important to know and understand. At Candid, we’re paying attention to evolving giving landscapes and mechanisms, which we’ll use to strengthen our products and resources in the long term. But now and always, please remember that even accurate, authoritative information might have a deeper story behind it.

Meanwhile, we encourage every organization to update your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar to better inform potential donors about what you do and how you do it.

Tags: Giving; Equity