Funding Partners? Maybe Not Such a Wise Bargain

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August 19, 2015; Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Carl Ritter, the now-terminated CEO of the Center for Building Hope in Sarasota, Florida, doesn’t waste much time licking his wounds. Readers may remember that Ritter was fired recently from CBH after the board realized that he had not only involved it in Brides Against Breast Cancer, a moneymaking social enterprise scheme that was losing money, but that in association with that endeavor, he had established BABC Mobile, a payment-processing enterprise owned by him that was charging BABC an outrageous 16 percent in fees. CBH had also hired a number of Ritter’s family members and accepted precipitous raises from the board even though the organization was running deficits.

Now, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, only a few days after filing suit against CBH for a severance package he claims to be owed, he has started at least one new fundraising company, Celebrities Against Cancer Inc., with his wife and daughter. The paper also found another website called Funding Partners, whose mission is (or was) to raise “funds for nonprofit organizations by operating small events through a large network of partners across the country.” This last entity is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and its registration number belongs to the Health Support Network, the Center for Building Hope’s parent organization. The paper reports that a ticket bought on Funding Partners had BABC Mobile as the credit processor and the gift receipt showed the same Florida Division of Consumer Services registration number as CBH.

“It certainly is not ours,” said Ron Gelbman, volunteer interim CEO of the Center. “BABC is a trademark owned by the Center for Building Hope. Other than that, we don’t have any other information on that organization.”

Funding Partners is apparently developing a cancer support grant pool to give grants to cancer charities once a year, and it claims it will contribute funds to World Water Relief. World Water Relief executive director Donna Peoples said that Funding Partners contacted them two weeks ago, asking if the Atlanta nonprofit was interested in receiving money from Funding Partners’ efforts.

“We have several people who hold events and send us the proceeds, so this was not an unusual request,” Peoples said. “They said they would send over a letter of agreement, which they did a few days ago. It is being reviewed by our Board attorney.”

I guess I would suggest there may be way more reputational downside than financial upside likely to accrue to any organization who agrees to partner with Funding Partners. Where are the regulators?—Ruth McCambridge

  • Third Sector Radio USA

    One sometimes wonders if Florida regulators is an oxymoron.

  • DC

    It would be interesting to know if the local and regional newspapers and media covered this. If the local folks don’t know this is happening, people like this can keep on doing what they’re doing.

  • Beware 3rd party fundraising. Who represents you in public? Do they share your values? Take it from me, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.