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September 20, 2014
9 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
September 20, 2014
9 people found this review helpful

I am the biggest supporter ever of Chai Lifeline. However, in a recent interview of the Executive Vice President by the Jewish Week editor and publisher, the Chai Lifeline top executive was asked if I was, indeed, the charity’s largest donor. He said I was one of the largest donors, adding,“there are a few” in that category, according to editor, who said the Executive Vice President declined to name the others. It is not clear what the word “category” means so I offer Chai Lifeline $1,000,000 for immediate proof of these aforementioned "few” other donors that gave a similar amount as me. To be fair, I will allow them to count any donor whose lifetime contributions that are within 25% of mine.

So what do you do when you find yourself faced with the following ethical and moral dilemma – you totally support the mission and work an organization provides but are confronted with the real possibility the leadership is dishonest? Do you walk away from the people the charity supports or do you make your continued financial support contingent on an immediate leadership change? I see no choice but to only continue my support with a complete change in leadership. The leadership of any charity, and especially one that deals with the individual and family needs associated with sick children, must be true to their word on all counts.

In 2012, I heard that Chai Lifeline had a problem with the Camp Simcha sewer system. The health department warned the camp that they cannot expand, and the camp had to take on strong conservation measures.

I donated $900,000 as a directed contribution for the sewer and the naming rights, expecting to name it after myself. I wanted to show how crazy this naming rights can become. By the way, in case you’re wondering, my wife said there’s no way her name would go on it with me!

In mid-2013, I offered the single largest donation ever to Chai Lifeline. This donation would have raised my lifetime donations to a level that the Executive Director of Development had told me and other donors for many years would give them the honor of having the Chai Lifeline organization dedicated in their name.

The Executive Vice President and the board rejected the donation. They claimed the Executive Director, the highest paid employee, who collected most of the money for the organization for nineteen years and always gave out honors and dedications, did not have the right to make the offer. The Executive Director of Development was represented as a principle of the organization and as such had entered into a legally binding contract on behalf of the organization. Based on the condition on the donation the board rejected the donation. I find the rejection of this donation appalling at the least, in direct conflict with the organization's mission to help sick children and their families, and a real question of the execution of each of the board member's fiduciary responsibility.

I still hadn’t heard that the sewer was built so I sent emails to the Executive Vice President, and to the entire board of directors. Their answers were not responsive to my direct inquiries.

I realized that they may no longer have the money for the sewer, even though the donation should have been segregated from general operating funds. I emailed the Executive Vice President and the board of directors and very clearly give them three options: (1) show me the $900,000 is accounted for, (2) return the money to me, or (3) resign. They never choose one so I informed them I will contact the NYS Attorney General and file a complaint. They still didn’t respond with a choice.

I filed a complaint in late 2013 that Chai Life had misappropriated $900,000. Through it all the Executive Vice President has never contacted me.

The law requires a donation for a specific project to become restricted money; the charity must not spend it on anything other than what the donor requested. The Executive Vice President now claims the Executive Director sent an email in 2012 that made the funds unrestricted; the Executive Director refutes the meaning of the email. Additionally, on September 3, 2014, the Executive Vice President sent an email to the publisher and editor of the Jewish Week stating, “As I said we always had enough available funding for this project from the very onset.” If their story is true, why didn’t they write it to me in 2013?!

Regardless, the organization has to keep the funds available. I have donated restricted funds to Hatzolah five times to buy ambulances and over ten times to the Wildlife Conservation Society and never once did either spend the money on anything but on what it was directed to be spent on. All of these commitments were done verbally like the agreement with Chai Lifeline

In early 2014, after the loss of my support and the loss of their largest donation ever, the organization remortgaged Camp Simcha and used the $1,000,000. This is a direct violation of a 2009 commitment they made in writing to me about being fiscally responsible when I threatened to stop donating.

We all agree that Chai Lifeline does great things. But they have lost at least their largest donor, and I believe many more will follow. For the organization to survive and prosper, I believe the Executive Vice President and the entire board of directors must be replaced immediately. By supporting this organization under current management, donors are hurting its potential, or possibly its survival.

I am hoping all will see the light and stop supporting Chai Lifeline. Once management is changed, I strongly suggest that all support it with all their means.

And the name of the sewer — I changed my mind. I want to name the cesspool after the Executive Vice President and some of the board of directors.

I stand behind the facts in the article. If the Executive Vice president and the Board of Directors of Chai Lifeline can disprove them all, I will donate $5,000,000 to Chai Lifeline. To get this money, they must publish their disproof in a prominent publication, and be willing to publicly open their audited books to prove their facts. If I get such a request, I will forward it to the Attorney General as fraud as I guarantee it can’t be true.

What will you do about Chai Lifeline now that you know what’s going on? Stop supporting it or move over to the dark side?
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1. Become a Big Brother/Big Sister, mentoring and supporting seriously ill children and/or their siblings through visits, telephone, email, and other contacts.
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