Black Lives Matter Donations Went To Unrelated Foundation

Black Lives Matter Donations Went To Unrelated Foundation

Black Lives Matter donations equaling millions of dollars went to an unrelated foundation with a similar name. Some of the donations may be rerouted. (Image: MMG)

The George Floyd protests have brought worldwide attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. They’ve also brought in donations by the millions. Only problem is, some of the money is going to the wrong organization. There is more than one organization using the Black Lives Matter name. One is demanding the end to police brutality and racist policies, the other is an organization that is more conciliatory, and looking to create a bond with the police.

The Black Lives Matter organization was formed in 2012 in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. It uses the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media and grew into an organized movement that is protesting today over the police murder of Floyd. Its official name is the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Its charitable wing is the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

The other is called the Black Lives Matter Foundation, which, according to its founder, Robert Ray Barnes, has the focus of “bringing the community and police closer together.” The police-focused Black Lives Matter Foundation can easily be found on fundraising platforms like GoFundMe, and individuals and companies including Apple and Google have been giving it donations meant for Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, according to an investigative article by BuzzFeed News.

BuzzFeed found that millions of dollars have been funneled unknowingly to the wrong Black Lives Matter organization because of the name confusion. In fact, employees of “Apple, Google, and Microsoft have raised millions of dollars for the Black Lives Matter Foundation thinking it’s the international racial justice movement seeking to end police brutality. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” BuzzFeed reported.

The Black Lives Matter Foundation is based in Santa Clarita, California, has one paid employee and lists a UPS store as its address. Corporations including Apple, Google, and Microsoft raised $4 million for the sound-alike foundation but the money was frozen before the foundation could collect on the donations, BuzzFeed reported.

“I don’t have anything to do with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. I never met them, never spoke to them. I don’t know them. I have no relationship with them,” Barnes said.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. registered in the state of Delaware in 2017. Barnes has owned and operated the Black Lives Matter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered in California, since 2015. 

Black Lives Matter Foundation raises money through a charity partner called Thousand Currents and Barnes’ organization has benefited from brand-name confusion as people have donated money to his charity via GoFundMe, PayPal, or employee donation matching platforms, thinking they are donating to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Buzz Feed reported.

“They took my name and put this ‘inc’ behind it,” Barnes told BuzzFeed. “They took my name. I own that name. I haven’t stolen anything from them. They have stolen from me. They have lied and been able to profit using my name.”

According to its 2017 tax filings, Black Lives Matter Foundation had raised more than $300,000 in donations, a figure that undoubtedly grew since the Floyd protests.

While his organization has existed for five years, Barnes has yet to launch any of the programs because it’s taken him a while to “outline a real plan of action.”

The California attorney general’s office issued a cease and desist order to Barnes’ organization in December for failing to file annual financial reports. GoFundMe stopped all active campaigns associated with the foundation earlier this month and froze a collective $350,000, according to BuzzFeed.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox raised $4 million between May 31 and June 5 via fundraising platform Benevity, which allows employers to track and match employee donations to charities.

Also, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston listed the Black Lives Matter Foundation as a charity they have approved.

After the BuzzFeed article was published, Benevity and its partner companies announced they will offer Black Lives Matter Foundation donors the option of rerouting the funds to the actual Black Lives Matter movement or other racial-justice causes. 

A GoFundMe representative told Business Insider that the company used the PayPal Giving Fund database to enable people to donate to causes and that it’s working with PayPal to redirect funds.

A representative for the Black Lives Matter movement told BuzzFeed News that the Santa Clarita group was “improperly using our name” and that the movement planned “to call them out and follow up.”

While this is being straightened out, Black Lives Matter Global Network is having finical reporting troubles of its own.

A recent Black Lives Matter online campaign brought in $5 million in contributions. People are asking questions about where the money is going and how it is being used, according to The New York Times.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is fiscally sponsored by another nonprofit, Thousand Currents. According to information provided to FactCheck.org by Thousand Currents, about one-quarter of Black Lives Matter expenditures in fiscal year 2019 went to salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes and 46 percent went to “consultant fees,” the Times reported.

Thousand Currents’ 2019 annual report also included a broad overview of its overall expenses, including 81 percent of spending used on programs and only 6 percent is spent on management and operations.

A lot of potential funding is at stake. Companies are eager to donate in the current climate. They aren’t just donating, they are creating initiatives.

Google, for example, has committed $12 million, while both Facebook and Amazon are donating $10 million to various groups that fight against racial injustice. Apple committed $100 million for a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative that will “challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color, and particularly for the Black community,” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, CNET reported.

Walmart announced that it will contribute $100 million over five years to create a new center for racial equity that “will seek to advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system,” CEO Doug McMillan announced in a company email.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 72: Jamarlin Martin Part 2. J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, may not be around but his energy is present in new Black politics.FBI agents and informants were used to weaken Marcus Garvey, the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers — in many cases for money and career advancement. How could this energy metastasize into the “New Blacks” politics in 2020? Jamarlin goes solo to discuss who is doing the trading and what is being traded to weaken the aggregate Black political position.

Target has set aside $10 million to advance social justice through supporting partners like the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum, CNET reported. Home Depot CEO Craig Menear announced a $1 million donation to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In a statement on its website, Menear also said the company will work for change internally, “I have begun working with our associate resource groups to facilitate internal town halls to share experiences and create better understanding among us all,” he said.