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Charities Upset Over Chase Facebook Contest 464

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the could-have-just-used-terms-and-conditions dept.
ssv03 writes "The New York Times is reporting that Chase Community Giving of Chase Bank recently held a contest on Facebook in which users were encouraged to vote for their favorite charities. At the end of the contest, the 100 charities with the most votes would win $25,000 and advance to the next round to have a chance to win $1 million. Initially, the vote counts for each organization were made public, but two days before voting ended they were hidden, and the final totals have still not been released. While Chase had no official leader board during the voting, several organizations were keeping track of projected winners. Those projections were almost identical to the final results, yet several organizations including Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Marijuana Policy Project and several anti-abortion groups were not finalists. They had been performing very well (some within the top 20) until the vote counters were removed. Chase Bank has so far refused to discuss the issue with the organizations. SSDP has spoken out in a press release (PDF) and is calling for a boycott."
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Charities Upset Over Chase Facebook Contest

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  • Charities? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jojoba86 (1496883) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:36AM (#30498112)

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Marijuana Policy Project and several anti-abortion groups were not finalists

    In what ways are these charities? I thought charity is about giving to people in need, not supporting political organisations.

    • Re:Charities? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:42AM (#30498134) Homepage
      Many organizations in the US that push for policy changes are federally registered as 501c3 charities.
      • Re:Charities? (Score:5, Informative)

        by maxume (22995) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:51AM (#30498180)

        It's simpler to refer to 501c as a tax status and leave the charity part off.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        Many organizations in the US that push for policy changes are federally registered as 501c3 charities.

        All being registered as a 501c means is that you are a non profit/not for profit, it has nothing to do with whether or not you are a charity.

    • Re:Charities? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:43AM (#30498142)

      Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Marijuana Policy Project and several anti-abortion groups were not finalists

      In what ways are these charities? I thought charity is about giving to people in need, not supporting political organisations.

      Plenty of anti-abortion groups are about helping and educating pregnant women, not advancing political change. Anti-abortion doesn't always mean anti-choice (as strange as it sounds). The MPP probably believe they're helping glaucoma patients. I don't know what the SSDP does.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:10AM (#30498266)

        I imagine they're in the business of getting you high as fuck, bro.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm guessing the SSDP wants to protect more fellow students from having their lives destroyed by the insanity of the War on Drugs.
        • Re:Charities? (Score:5, Informative)

          by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdo ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:27AM (#30498352) Homepage Journal
          It's about removing the law that denies student loans for anyone with a marijuana conviction. Because of course taking someone's education away and forcing them to be blue collar isn't exactly the best way to minimize marijuana's impact on people's lives. The wierd thing is is that the punishment/getting caught is far more damaging than the drug itself.
          • Re:Charities? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by m.ducharme (1082683) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @12:14PM (#30498862)

            You need an education to be blue-collar these days. Marijuana convictions create a growing class of criminal entrepreneurs, not blue-collar workers.

      • As heard on the news about a year ago, "I think we can all agree that there are too many abortions".

        • by teg (97890)

          As heard on the news about a year ago, "I think we can all agree that there are too many abortions".

          But other than that, opinions vary a lot.

          The people who are pro choice, would typically talk about the importance of sexual education in school, the importance of condoms and other contraceptives.

          Those who want to make the choice for the woman based on their own values, usually also wants to minimize sexual education (as it should only be done in the context of marriage) and minimize access to contra

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by makomk (752139)

        If you mean "helping" make sure they don't get an abortion by whatever means necessary (including lying to them and setting up "pregnancy resource centers" that pretend to offer abortions but really just string women along for long enough they can't seek one elsewhere), and by "educating" you mean misleading for ideological reasons, then yes, exactly that. Seriously, the anti-choice movement is quite evil.

        • Re:Charities? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @01:59PM (#30499632)
          Seriously, the anti-choice movement is quite evil.

          They believe abortion is murder. They are willing to go all the way to murder of their own if they think it will stop them. They try to distance themselves from the clinic bombers, but rarely do you actually hear full-out condemnation. And yes, they'll lie to stop abortions. But what I think is most horrible is that one of the proven most effective way of stopping abortions is sex ed combined with free available contraception. And the anti-choice people object to that. That makes then not pro-life, but evil anti-choice people that do not have the best interests of children at heart, but want to push their personal and religious beliefs on others against their will in a manner that they know harms others. It's not lying to prevent murder that makes them evil. It's lying to cause the situations that cause abortions, then calling abortion murder.

          The few principled ones who want to stop abortions and think abortion is murder usually end up pro-choice because they realize that pro-choice pushes education and doesn't push abortions. They realize that making it illegal will still result in abortions, but that the illegal ones jeopardize not just the baby's life but the mother's as well, and they realize that a parent that wants to kill their kid before the child is even born may not be the best environment for the child, and that aborting this one so the next, when the time is right, will have a family ready to receive it and a better life is the best thing for all involved (and of course, the hind sight to realize that education and contraception would have prevented the whole situation).
    • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:54AM (#30498194)
      I wouldn't have a problem if Chase had declared an organization ineligible, but that's not what they did. Instead they wimped out and hid the vote tallies, probably blocking votes to organizations that those running the contest don't support, without even saying who or why they were disqualified.
      • by klubar (591384) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:39AM (#30498396) Homepage

        American Express (AmEx) did something similar in the Boston area. However, they thought it through first. An organization that wanted to participate had to submit a proposal on what they would do with the money and description of the organization's misson. AmEx selected about 40 (all worthwhile) organizations to vote on. AmEx got a reasonable selection of charities to participate--some of the really large ones, and a few highly specialized. The organizations used their participation to encourage their members to vote and become engaged to the organiztion goals.

        I think every organization that was selected got some funding (perhaps at the $1000 level) so there weren't hard feeling from the losers.

        Goes to show you that Chase != American Express.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DavidTC (10147)

          That's what I would do. There are too many charitable organizations with really good PR and really shitty records of actually helping anything, like PETA.

          Also, a lot of organizations do good work, but don't really need large amounts of cash. Like the Red Cross. They need volunteers, not money.

          And plenty of organizations do good work, but are perceived, rightly or wrongly, as having a political bent, so for maximum PR, you'd want to leave those out.

    • Re:Charities? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:23AM (#30498334)

      Try telling a zealous anti-abortionist they're not helping people in need. That'll go over well.

      Also ask the ~600,000 Americans arrested for possession (not trafficking) of marijuana if new law is or isn't required. That's 600k *annually*.

    • by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @11:00AM (#30498478) Homepage Journal

      Silly rabbit. A charity is just a corporation with tax exempt status.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by copponex (13876)

      If drugs were legalized, it would do a hell of a lot more good for poor communities than any sort of handout.

      On the other hand, if abortion were criminalized, many more women would die and the crime rate would spike 15 years later.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NormalVisual (565491)
        Being "anti-abortion" doesn't necessarily mean one advocates the criminalization of it. I personally think abortion is a disgusting cop-out and an affront to humanity in most cases, but I also realize there is enough of an argument over when life begins that it becomes essentially a moral/religious matter, and you run into all kinds of church/state issues if you attempt to criminalize it. So, until such time as that question can be definitively answered, I think it's something that needs to be allowed to
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MaWeiTao (908546)

          When life begins is a scientific matter, not moral or religious. The fact that egg and sperm comprise living cells means it's alive from day one. Hell, people argue viruses are alive and they lack many of the properties of living cells. However, you can definitely argue that in those early days while the genetic material is all there to form a human it's still a clump of cells. But the first few months in, when you've got a brain forming, a beating heart, a nervous system, limps and other identifiable organ

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sjames (1099)

            When life begins is a scientific matter, not moral or religious.

            However, that is not the relevant issue. Only the strictest of vegans actually condemn any taking of life whatsoever (and most will reluctantly admit that their own immune system or simply cleaning their cookware kills some form of life).

            Clearly, we do not oppose the killing of any human cells whatsoever, that happens all the time no matter what we do. My individual cells have no rights to themselves. A pint of my blood extracted into a plastic bag is not a human being. When the surgeon sends a human append

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Since people could vote for them, at the very least they are charities as defined by this competition's rules.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nametaken (610866) *

      "Students for Sensible Drug Policy" sounds like a bunch of douchebag college kids trying to game the system for 25k in free pot money. God forbid Chase dumps them for another Susan G. Komen or some such.

    • by Vellmont (569020)


      In what ways are these charities? I thought charity is about giving to people in need, not supporting political organisations.

      Tax deductible charitable donations are a little broader than that. The IRS defines it here: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p526/ar02.html#en_US_publink100049599 [irs.gov]

      The interpretation must be rather broad, since Students for Sensible Drug Policy IS registered as tax-deductible (which you can find here [irs.gov]

      So I guess I'm about as confused as you are. I certainly understand Chase's position

  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info.devinmoore@com> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:50AM (#30498176) Homepage Journal

    Obviously Chase meant the top "non-embarassing to a big company" charities. Can you imagine if Chase had to donate $1M to the Marijuana Policy Project? I'm sure the board freaked out at the thought of "chase" and "MJ" being in the same sentence and said, "do whatever is necessary to make sure we don't get that association."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Exactly what I was thinking. Of course, Chase should know that "crowdsourcing" is not guaranteed to yield the results that they were hoping for.
    • Which is weird because if they came in first then clearly the people are ok with it.... /shrugs/ I don't get the logic.
  • by xzvf (924443) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:57AM (#30498208)
    The reason a corporation give money to a charity isn't because it believes in the charity, but because it will get a blurb in paper saying how good they are and increase the brand good will. Does anyone really expect a corporation to spend $25000 so it can be on the news with a headline "Chase supports legalizing Drugs". I won't even get to the quagmire around abortion. I'm sure if they do this again, they'll pre-screen organizations that are allowed to participate. Frankly I'd been more concerned if they screened out an organization that helps people get out of credit card debt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      In both of those cases, you can be sure that they'd get plenty of blurbs in every news medium. They're getting blurbs now, but it's being tied to how secretive they are with money. Not sure I want to bank with them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ModernGeek (601932)
      Those non profit get out of debt corporations are just collection agencies for the credit card companies. I'd be even more concerned if one of those won the contest. Imagine how good it would look for them as they evaded taxes, got great PR, free advertising, and collected old debts all at once.
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@AUDENovi.com minus poet> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:02AM (#30498242) Homepage

    " I am altering the deal, pray that I do not alter it any further ".

    Banks, Ugh!

  • by duncan (16437) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `014fkcuhc'> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @11:55AM (#30498774)

    Wow, a credit card company changing the rules in the middle of the game.

    How Shocking!

  • by drew30319 (828970) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @12:26PM (#30498944) Homepage Journal
    I run a 501(c)(3) that I formed in 2006. My organization was also in the running for the Chase Contest but was not one of the winners. While disappointed, I'm pleased that Chase undertook this contest using this approach. Generally corporate contests and donations go to the large charities; Chase at least gave us a chance. Following is the IRS information on being a 501(c)(3); note that the first paragraph states "[...]it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities[...]"

    Exemption Requirements - Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

    To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

    Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170.

    The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction.

    Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues.

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