Girls Inc. Chapter Seeks to Avoid Returning Funds Donated by Ponzi Schemer

February 13, 2012; Herald-Tribune | The Sarasota, Fla. chapter of Girls Inc. is facing the need to pay back $360,000 in tainted donations, plus $90,000 in interest, an amount that is nearly equal to half its yearly budget. The money came from Arthur Nadel (or “mini-Madoff”), who was convicted for running a Ponzi scheme worth $168 million.

Girls Inc. is among a half dozen Sarasota charities that owe a total of more than $1 million as a court-appointed receiver tries to claw the money back for bilked investors. Girls Inc., however, is one of a few charities pushing a bill to try to prevent such repossessions from charities. “At first I was appalled and then I think I went, ‘we need to find a solution for this,’” said Stephania Feltz of Girls Inc. “My heart breaks for the individuals that lost their investments. But I believe there are two victims.”

NPQ wonders about the ethical considerations of this in light of the fact that many lost their life savings. What do you think? –Ruth McCambridge