Nonprofit Told To Curb Fundraising Pitches

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February 16, 2011; Source: San Diego Union-Tribune | The city of Carlsbad, Calif., wants a nonprofit to curb its rather unorthodox fundraising appeals. In fact, following complaints from residents of this coastal community, located 35 miles north of San Diego, the city issued a press release this week saying that Canning Hunger neither received a special permit to paint addresses on homeowners' curbs nor is it sanctioned to ask for a donation in return for the work.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, representatives of Caring Hunger have been painting house numbers on curbs and then leaving fliers on doors claiming it has a city permit to do the work and that if people are so inclined they can contribute to the group. After getting calls from residents upset about the fundraising appeal, the city put out its news release saying it had only issued the nonprofit a license to do business in Carlsbad, not to paint curbs. And while there appears to be no restrictions against the group – or anyone else – from painting addresses on curbs, the city doesn't want the nonprofit to mislead residents into thinking that the work is being done at its request or that they should feel any obligation to make a donation.

Carlsbad spokesperson Kristina Ray said the city felt compelled to take action because of residents who felt the nonprofit was pressuring them to pay. The release also instructs homeowners about how to deal with people coming to their doors unannounced and seeking money. It advises them to have "a zero tolerance to solicitors. Never open your door to someone you do not know. You do not know what is motivating the stranger on the other side. Look through the peep hole and if you do not know the person, say 'no thank you' through the door."

Canning Hunger founder and CEO Norm Wahn, whose group provides free meals to those in need and training for people in transitional housing, says the city is unfairly vilifying his group. He's also upset the city didn't call him before issuing its statement. Said Wahn, “If this is about semantics, then that’s a strongly worded, very, very lengthy dissertation about what we’re doing if all they wanted us to do was quit saying we had a permit and simply say you have a license."—Bruce Trachtenberg