Report: Former Muslim Aid Trustees Mismanaged Charity

Report: Former Muslim Aid Trustees Mismanaged Charity

Dec 07

One of Britain’s largest charities, Muslim Aid, is at the center of a scandal. A recent investigation by the U.K. Charity Commission revealed that former trustees seriously mismanaged the organization’s resources. According to The Times, Muslim Aid has an annual budget of £34 million. “The concerns were originally dealt with as part of a regulatory compliance case,” the commission said in a statement. “But the commission’s engagement escalated when the charity’s own reassurances to the regulator served instead to highlight the sheer scale of concerns about the charity’s financial management, specifically its due diligence, monitoring, and oversight of its field offices.” According to nonprofit news source Third Sector, the commission was also concerned that the charity was unintentionally funding a terrorist group due to a lack of proper checks. However, further inquiry proved that wasn’t the case. The report concluded: “The then board of trustees fell short of the standards required and expected, particularly of a large, well-known and trusted charity with substantial operations and reach. “The then board of trustees did not meet with their duties to act with reasonable care and skill and fell short of their responsibilities under charity law.” The report did note, however, that significant improvements have been made ever since Jehangir Malik was appointed CEO in September 2016. In a statement, Malik reassured the public that the charity is back on the right track: “After a challenging period, the board and the senior leadership team have initiated a new governance structure that has put in place model checks and balances to ensure the highest of professional operating standards. “Muslim Aid has a 30-year legacy of excellent field work, serving humanity. This is a strong foundation and the improvements put in place, under the supervision of this inquiry process, will ensure that the future of the charity is robust. “Muslim Aid has emerged a more transparent organization, more fit for purpose for the current strategic requirements of donors and beneficiaries alike. Muslim Aid is entering an exciting new...

Viral GoFundMe Campaign Was A Hoax, Prosecutor Says

Viral GoFundMe Campaign Was A Hoax, Prosecutor Says

Dec 01

Remember that heartwarming story about a homeless man who gave his last $20 to a stranded woman who ran out of gas? Well, as it turns out, it was all a lie. Court documents show that Johnny Bobbitt (the homeless man) conspired with Katelyn McClure (the stranded woman) and her former boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, to devise an uplifting tale about a generous vagrant. The goal? To convince the public to donate money to a GoFundMe campaign that was set up in Bobbitt’s honor. The campaign was enormously successful, and raised approximately $400,000 in funds. But things went south when Bobbitt claimed that he didn’t receive all the money that he should have. Photos posted on the couple’s social media accounts suggested that they used the funds to go on lavish vacations and expensive shopping trips. An investigation was launched, and the couple’s newly purchased BMW was seized in the process. But things took an even worse turn when investigators discovered that the homeless man himself, Johnny Bobbitt, was in on it. A text message that McClure sent to her best friend revealed the deceptive nature of the story. “Okay, so wait. The gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t,” McClure wrote. “I had to make something up to make people feel bad. So shush about the made up stuff.” The prosecutor said the trio likely would have gotten away with it if they hadn’t run out of money and started fighting. Now, all three are facing charges of conspiracy and theft by deception. “This type of case can damage the psyche of the public,” said prosecutor Scott Coffina. “A case like this can make generous people skeptical and a little more hesitant to help someone else in need.” GoFundMe has promised to refund everyone who donated. Photo courtesy of Sharaf Maksumov /...

Airbnb Donates $5 Million to San Francisco Homeless Crisis

Airbnb Donates $5 Million to San Francisco Homeless Crisis

Nov 14

San Francisco-based company Airbnb was founded by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. At the time, the two were living together as roommates. In an effort to make ends meet, they decided to let travelers rent an air mattress in their living room. In 2008, another roommate joined in and made a website. That’s when the new business began to take hold. Ten years later, and over four million homes, apartments, boats, mansions, and villas are listed on Airbnb’s website. It has become an international sensation, with listings available in 191 countries. Current estimations put the company’s value at approximately $32 billion. And to think… all that started with a single apartment in San Francisco. Arguably, the hospitality broker (for Airbnb owns none of the properties it advertises) has done a lot to hurt housing rates in major expensive cities like San Francisco. Landlords who can make more rent from weekend tourists than from their years-old tenants have converted properties into makeshift hotels, and legislation has had to rise up to help protect tenants. Today, San Francisco has more than 7,000 people without stable housing, including as many as 1,000 families. But it was founded by two people desperately trying to make rent, and now they want to help. CEO Brian Chesky announced on Tuesday, November 13, that Airbnb will be donating $5 million to help alleviate the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. The company hasn’t yet announced where that money will be invested, but they’ve worked in the past with Hamilton Families, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and Larkin Street Youth Services, all of which are heavily involved in homelessness aid. “Airbnb is lucky to call San Francisco our hometown and we share in the responsibility to ensure San Francisco continues to be a city open to everyone, and a city that works together to tackle our most difficult issues,” the company stated in a blog...

Musician Donates Album Proceeds to Mental Health America

Musician Donates Album Proceeds to Mental Health America

Nov 09

Brandon Fox is a singer from Chicago. His style is a mix between R&B and pop, with inspiration taken from Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, and Stevie Wonder. Fox’s current path was shaped by two parents heavily affected by mental health issues. Both parents struggled with addiction and self-medication, to the point where Fox’s father committed suicide. Seeing his own risk rise, Fox turned to music as therapy. “It [mental illness] attacked our family like cancer,” he said in a video made earlier this year, announcing his partnership with Mental Health America. Back in April, Fox launched an album called Remedy, inspired by his personal struggle with mental health, his family, and how the obstacles to seeking treatment shaped his life. He pledged to donate the entirety of Remedy’s profits to Mental Health America. Mental Health America is a nonprofit that dates back to 1909, focused on addressing the mental health care needs of all. Their philosophy is that conditions should be treated early and seriously. The goal? To halt or reverse progressive symptoms and give each person their best chance at an overall healthy life. Fox’s Remedy album spent a week in the top 30 chart on iTunes when it was released. While it is unknown as to exactly how much the album raised for charity, the response on Fox’s fanpage has been warm and positive. On Saturday, November 10, Fox will be upping his contribution via a free benefit show at Bassline in Chicago, with all donations going to Mental Health America. In an interview with WGN Radio, Fox said the show will include several new pieces, which will act as unofficial additions to the Remedy album Tickets to the Saturday night show are free, with a suggested $5 minimum donation. Bassline is located at 2239 S. Michigan Avenue, and the show begins at 6...

Swiss Billionaire Makes $1B Donation to Preserve Natural Resources

Swiss Billionaire Makes $1B Donation to Preserve Natural Resources

Nov 01

Hansjörg Wyss is a Swiss billionaire who made a fortune in the American market by founding medical device manufacturer Synthes. Before his 2012 sale of his company to Johnson & Johnson, he donated approximately $300 million dollars. Since the $21 billion sale, his giving has increased dramatically. Like Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, and David Rockefeller, he has signed The Giving Pledge, an informal commitment to donate at least half of his net worth to philanthropic causes. On Wednesday, October 31, Wyss wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Times in which he revealed that he is donating $1 billion “to help accelerate land and ocean conservation efforts around the world.” The money will be divested through his Wyss Foundation over the next 10 years, targeted at preserving and expanding public parts, conservation areas, and wildlife and marine reserves. Wyss’s donations have already helped protect approximately 40 million acres of land and sea on or near four continents, to the tune of half a billion dollars. With this massive increase, he wants to protect 30 percent of the world’s surface by 2030. “Every one of us—citizens, philanthropists, business, and government leaders—should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places,” he wrote. Climate scientists push for at least 50 percent of the planet to be protected to maintain biodiversity and prevent an extinction event. Currently, only about 15 percent of land and seven percent of ocean area is protected in a natural state—numbers that are being whittled down all the time. “For the sake of all living things,” concludes Wyss, “let’s see to it that far more of our planet is protected by the people, for the people, and for all...