Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thon: The CDT Late to the Party, But a Welcome Guest

Nearly a year ago I wrote about the lack of transparency and accountability which surrounds the fund raising for the Penn State Dance Marathon.
...THON is not registered as an independent charitable organization. When you make a donation to THON you use Penn State's tax-exempt identification number:24-6000-376. [Ed 2/19/09: The link from last year is dead. Here are screen shots from this year and of the Penn State's IRS W-9 Form used for the tax-exempt donations to Thon.] Hence the money disappears into the the Penn State information blackhole and since The Four Diamond Fund is also a part of the University, the money never sees the light of day again.

Is the money misused? There is no way of telling. But it is worth recalling how Old Main has been handling the donation to student groups and colleges.
Beginning this year, donations to colleges and student groups exceeding $5,000 will take a pit stop at the Office of University Development for 90 days while Penn State pockets the interest, a university official said.
And the University never told anyone about this scheme including the those donating the money. Imagine then what they might do with $6.6 million.
Yesterday, Anne Danahy at the Centre Daily Times wrote a piece about this very issue.
...Thon and the Four Diamonds Fund are not independent charitable organizations. Rather, they are part of Penn State and get their tax exempt status from the university. As such, they — and Penn State — are not required to make any part of their finances public.

Aside from the list of the top 10 fundraising fraternity and sorority teams, and the top three independent fundraising groups, Thon releases few details on its donors. Similarly, the Four Diamonds Fund doesn’t have to provide specific information about its budget.

In Pennsylvania, educational institutions are exempt from the Charitable Purposes Act, which oversees registration of charities.
Danahy does some good reporting and the article is well worth a read. I would like to see more of this type of reporting in the CDT.

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1 comment:

EEISElmo said...

I wonder how the part of Four Diamonds that is supposed to be supporting the children's hospital building fund is doing. Didn't Olde Maine announce a postponement of construction at the Hershey cancer center this year?