Sometimes, as NPQ’s editor in chief, I am deluged with stories of the outrageous, nonprofit style. I try to keep my perspective. Most nonprofits I know do not make the grand mistakes that land them on the front pages. Most of us, frankly, do not have the aptitude to think some of this stuff up; it’s not all illegal either.

One of this week’s least favorite stories came from Memphis where 90 people donated to charity in return for being given the opportunity to handle and shoot a variety of class 3 weapons — Uzi’s, submachine guns, Tommy guns, and the like. One of the beneficiaries of this fundraising event? St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In a year where we have seen gun violence heartbreakingly perpetrated en masse against children in schools all over the United States — and in a city where in 2005 murder had spiked to a third again of what it was a year before, this offering of a “touch the bunny” introduction to automatic weapons might be considered a questionable choice — very creepy but not illegal as far as we know. . . just plain pug ugly.
For the Nonprofit Ethicist’s take on this strange fundraiser click here:
On the other hand, the sordid maneuverings of lead staff at The Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in New York in bilking the organization out of $290,000 to pay personal expenses while making $875,000 in non-mission related loans to Air America (where a few of them were invested or were employed) reveals a web of self-dealing and deceit that is hard to fathom unless we were to accept that these people were immersed in a state of being where ethics, caution, and consequences don’t exist in any real way. And maybe they had reason to believe that consequences were only a very distant possibility since the board, according to the City of New York’s Department of Investigation, seemed largely clueless about what had happened. An argument against the signature stamp is contained in this epic of a story. A tangle of loans, re-loans, false consulting payments, and no-show employees makes this organization an appalling poster child for bad behavior and still we are sure that there are more stories behind this particular story.
As I mentioned, most of us aren’t oriented to outright steal from our beloved organizations but we all, from time to time come up against ethical problems even in the best run nonprofit.
The Nonprofit Ethicist stands ready to answer your ethical questions.
Here’s how it works:
— Write confidentially to the Ethicist about your ethical concern with your organization. Be as specific as possible without revealing the identity of your organization.
— The Ethicist provides a personal answer by return email within a week.
— We select from among the problems and answers those to be published in the magazine.
— You get final editing rights on your letter
— We print your letter and you contribute to the whole sector’s understanding of nonprofit ethics
See, that’s not so scary! So write to the Nonprofit Ethicist today!