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Re: Fiscal Sponsor's Collapse Hits Topanga Organziation(s)

February 24, 2012 06:58PM
It gets a little bit worse... Here's a snippet from The Malibu Times on Wednesday:


By Jimy Tallal / Special to The Malibu Times

At least eight Malibu-area noprofit groups report losing funds with an umbrella organization after it abruptly closed its offices, took down its website and notified clients by mail it was closing last month. Pacific Palisades-based International Humanities Center (IHC) is under investigation for nearly $1 million in missing funds belonging to more than 200 nonprofit groups.

Local nonprofits who had money with IHC include the Topanga Film Festival, Vital Zuman Organic Farm, the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee and three groups operated by environmental activist Marcia Hanscom.

“It's quite devastating. We have no hope of ever getting our money back,” said Urs Baur of the $20,000 his Topanga Film Festival nonprofit group had with IHC.

Like Baur's group, many small or start-up non-profit groups who don't want to deal with the bureaucracy of obtaining a 501©(3) tax exempt status from the IRS contract with a “fiscal sponsor.” The sponsor has 501©(3) status and serves as an umbrella organization for small groups that don't have the staff to deposit charitable donations and grants in restricted accounts, disburse payments or take care of other administrative matters. In exchange for these services, the fiscal sponsor takes each group on as a separate “project,” charging five to ten percent of its donations as a fee.

One such fiscal sponsor was International Humanities Center (IHC) with offices in Pacific Palisades, headed by Executive Director Steve Sugarman of Topanga Canyon. Eight local groups had ties to IHC.

Most sponsored groups had no idea IHC was in financial trouble until they received two somewhat bizarre letters from Sugarman---one in December 2011 and another in January 2012.

Ben Alanoff, Chairman of the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee, said the letter “immediately seemed fantastic, if not psychotic; informing us way after the fact that he'd been using our money. They had no right to dip into anybody's fund. Now, in addition to the loss of money, we've lost our non-profit status until we sign up with another [fiscal sponsor].”

After receiving the first letter, Alanoff made a request to cash out, but IHC never responded.

See the whole story at http://www.malibutimes.com/articles/2012/02/23/news/news1.txt
Subject Author Posted

Fiscal Sponsor's Collapse Hits Topanga Organziation

Dogwood February 17, 2012 09:49AM

Re: Fiscal Sponsor's Collapse Hits Topanga Organziation

Roadie February 17, 2012 11:20AM

Re: Fiscal Sponsor's Collapse Hits Topanga Organziation(s)

TimBuk2 February 24, 2012 06:58PM

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