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July 3, 2010; Source: Associated Press | What is BP’s responsibility for lost charitable contributions? That’s the question BP now has to answer, not because of the curtailment of its charitable giving, but because of Gulf Coast area charities’ and churches’ losses of contributions from people who can no longer afford to give. In the religious areas of the Deep South, some churches survive due to the tithing of their members, but shrimpers and oystermen who have been put out of work by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill can’t afford to give any more. The pastor at the Anchor Assembly of God in Bayou la Batre, Alabama, has filed a claim with BP of $50,000 to reimburse the congregation for the $12,000 in contributions it would have typically received in the past few weeks and the $38,000 it anticipates losing next year. Operating a food bank and giving away bread on Sundays, the Assembly (which draws 70 worshipers, according to the AP, “on a good Sunday”) filed its claim on June 18th but hasn’t hear back from the company. BP’s man in charge of claims says he is unaware so far of any claims filed by churches or nonprofits. After the Assembly’s claim, he may have to sort out others. A non-religious nonprofit called Mobile Baykeeper which monitors water quality in the Mobile Bay says membership renewals have plummeted and it may file a claim. The United Way of Baldwin County is going to see what happens with its current fundraising campaign and may end up filing a claim as well. BP has already paid out $130 million in compensation, but doesn’t know how it would handle a claim based on charitable giving losses attributed to the economic devastation of the spill. We would be curious to hear from Nonprofit Quarterly readers. Under what circumstances, or with what evidence would you file a claim with BP if you were a nonprofit or church in the region? If you were BP, how would you respond to and decide about claims from nonprofits and churches?—Rick Cohen