Taking Ways: A Super-Charismatic Charity Fundraiser Goes to Trial

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September 21, 2016; Providence Journal

Dan Doyle must be one very charismatic founder. With his Institute for International Sport and his reputation both in ruins, Doyle is facing at least 18 criminal charges in a trial that started Wednesday.

NPQ began reporting on this case—involving, evidently, the duping of any number of funders and influential supporters—in 2012. At that time, I reported:

IIS was founded in 1986 at the University of Rhode Island (URI). The organization sought to promote peace through athletics and other activities and it attracted the support of luminaries such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Bill Clinton. Danny Doyle, a former basketball coach, was and is clearly the visionary behind IIS, attracting support from prominent actors on the world stage, from the state of Rhode Island and from seven figure donors, both individual and institutional.

The first wave of recent news reports about IIS focused on the organization’s lack of accountability in detailing the way that it spent a state grant of $575,000 awarded to the organization in 2007. The grant, which was the focus of a report by the Rhode Island Auditor General’s Office issued in February of this year, was to be used to erect and furnish a building for IIS’s leadership programs. The building now exists but stands empty and unfinished, lacking heat, plumbing and electricity. Auditors have only been provided with $163,000 worth of receipts, and even these are in question.

That building remains unfinished. We wondered at the time how it was that funders ranging from the state of Rhode Island, which contributed $7.3 million to IIS since 1987, to the Atlantic Philanthropies, which contributed $9.6 million since 1989, missed the signs that things were not entirely kosher at this youth-serving, peace-seeking organization. Multiple IRS liens had been placed against it for unpaid payroll taxes and some of the board members listed for the organization were unaware they held such a position.

In opening statements on Wednesday, a prosecutor alleged that Doyle used the organization as a private piggy bank to fund everything from an eyelift to his daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Doyle is charged with everything from embezzlement to counterfeiting and filing false documents, but he is clearly a phenomenal fundraiser.—Ruth McCambridge

  • XRZ

    Let’s be clear, Doyle was a swindler, not a fundraiser.