Chase: Don’t Exploit Small Charities
Chase Community Giving says their grant program is about putting the “power of giving in the hands and hearts of the community” by letting the public vote for their favorite charities. Yet this year, that power was taken away from voters. We at the Gerson Institute, a small non-profit dedicated to nutritional healing, received more than enough votes to earn a $10,000 grant. Yet we received a call six hours before the end of the competition to let them know that we had been deemed “ineligible.” We were given no explanation at the time, and Chase has not responded to any of our requests for an explanation.
We carefully reviewed all the program rules and regulations before submitting the initial application and were confident that we satisfied all the eligibility rules. After the call, we reviewed the rules again. We still cannot find any provision, rule or eligibility requirement which we violated or did not fulfill. Although we did note that the regulations clearly state that:
Chase retains the right at its sole discretion to determine eligibility and reserves the right to disqualify any charity at any time for any reason whatsoever.
Perhaps we were naïve, but since Chase Community Giving had invited us to enter the program and then reviewed and accepted their application, we believed we wouldn’t be arbitrarily disqualified. We were wrong.
After failing to find any tangible reason for our disqualification, we can only speculate that Gerson was disqualified because Chase wasn’t comfortable having their name associated with our organization and its mission. We recognize that our mission is considered by some to be controversial; we educate people about the Gerson Therapy, a holistic, nutritional therapy for chronic degenerative diseases. Alternative treatments are not widely accepted in the medical community.
We recognize that Chase has every right to choose which organizations they wish to be associated with. If they did not wish us to be donation recipients, however, then they should never have accepted our application to enter the contest.
Chase tells voters that all the charities featured in the contest were reviewed and accepted before the beginning of the contest, which implies that only programs eligible for the competition were permitted to enter. Yet we are not the first organization that Chase has deemed ineligible at the last minute, presumably for mission-related reasons. In 2010, the New York Times reported that Chase booted out at least four organizations at the last minute, also without any explanation.
Small charities, like ours, spend valuable staff time and resources setting up their charity profiles, writing blog posts and emails, and mobilizing supporters through social media. Individual supporters give Chase access to valuable marketing information by accepting the Chase Community Giving app on Facebook in return for the chance to help their favorite charity receive valuable funds.
By waiting to disqualify charities with controversial missions until they earn enough votes to reach the high profile top 200 list, Chase maximizes their marketing goals. This is good business for Chase. It is not good for small charities like Gerson.
We believe that the mission of the Chase Community Giving Program is to support small charities and give individuals a voice in how corporate giving is distributed. If your mission is truly to “put the power of giving” into the people’s hands, then honor your voters’ wishes. Don’t betray your voters into thinking their vote matters when you have shown that you can disregard them at will.
We ask that Chase Community Giving change their program rules:
1. To create a more thorough application process which carefully reviews each charity’s eligibility before they are allowed to enter the contest. Only charities that Chase would be comfortable awarding grant money to should they win should be allowed to enter.
2. Provide any charity that is disqualified during the competition with a clear and detailed description of how the charity violated the program rules.
3. If a charity has not broken any program rules and legitimately earns enough votes to receive a grant, then Chase should follow through and give the promised grants to the contest winners.
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