August 18, 2011; Source: Denver Post | Gay-rights activists are calling on corporations to end their charitable-giving deals with the Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), according to a Denver Post report. Once known as the Christian Values Network, CGBG recruits online shoppers who can designate a percentage of their purchase totals to go to a list of specific charities, both secular and religious. One of the designated nonprofit recipients is Focus on the Family, which many gay-rights activists and others consider a hate group due to its attitude toward gays and lesbians.

The leader of this effort is a Western Washington University student named Ben Crowther. His previous effort was gathering 20,000 signatures through the website that convinced Apple to remove its iTunes service from CGBG due to the Focus on the Family affiliation. Other companies that have ended their CGBG relationships include Microsoft, Macy’s, and Wells Fargo.

CGBG says that Focus is only one of some 5,000 nonprofits receiving charitable support through shoppers’ purchases. It contends that some 200,000 nonprofits could be hurt by these attacks on CGBG’s connection to Focus. CGBG says that Wal-Mart, Delta Airlines, Target, and PetSmart have specifically maintained their online giving deals despite the campaign.

According to the Post, “CGBG president John Higgins said the network will push back against the activists’ efforts by doubling the amount it gives to designated charities [during the period from August 22] through Labor Day weekend.”

It is easy to imagine both sides of this argument. On one side, there are clearly many people who view the message of Focus on the Family as hateful and discriminatory. On the other side, there is a wide diversity of nonprofits that might be collecting donations through CGBG, with a range of political and religious opinions that many people might find unacceptable. Can and should online donation portals, even those without the evangelical Christian roots of a CGBG, be held responsible for the content of all of the 501(c)(3) organizations eligible to participate?

Weigh in, NPQ Newswire readers!—Rick Cohen