June 26, 2011; Source: The News-Gazette | In Illinois, taxpayers can donate to charity through the use of check-off boxes on their tax forms. But it has now come to light that the nearly $1.2 million that was donated this year was “borrowed’ by the state instead of being sent along to the intended recipients.
Apparently, the cash-strapped state must – by law – pay it to the charities within the next 18 months but the nonprofits are predictably unhappy with the state’s behavior. Another $434,000 was “swept” (meaning it will not be returned) out of similar funds last year according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Where was the money “swept” from? Well, for instance, $112,500 was taken from the Alzheimer's Disease Research Fund last year, and another $135,000 was borrowed this year. Charity leaders say that they have been encouraging donors to give through the check off boxes with the expectation that the funds would in no way be endangered by the state’s financial crisis.
Stephanie Record, executive director of the Crisis Nursery of Champaign County said her agency was to have received $7,000 and that they had specifically asked the question: Will the money get held up because of the state budget crisis? "We were told over and over and over again, 'No, it'll flow straight through an account at DHS (the Department of Human Services),' and that the flow-through account would be released directly to the nurseries. Obviously, that wasn't the case."
Illinois already has a bad reputation for its treatment of nonprofits due to a track record of very late payments but this is a new wrinkle. —Ruth McCambridge