W.I.T.- Whatever It Takes Ministries…Charity Scam?
So far, almost all of my new experiences in the Chattanooga area have been pleasant. The ones that weren’t just weren’t that bad, because I understand that not everything goes perfect all the time.
I’ll give you some background. My 8yo son is a runner. He absolutely loves running. As a matter of fact, one of his claims to fame is that in our last 5K race he beat me by over 30 seconds. One of the things I was most looking forward to with our move to Chattanooga was entering races with him. It was all flat back home, so I figured the elevation changes in this area would give him a new challenge. We’re not rich and races aren’t cheap, so I waited until I found a race that not only fit our schedule but would also be fun.
I finally found one. It was a superhero run sponsored by and supporting the Whatever It Takes ministry. This was going to be some much fun. He and would throw on some superhero costumes and have a blast. The race information in the Chattanooga Times Free Press also mentioned kids activities at Coolidge Park. Even better! The rest of my family could also go and have fun while we run.
I signed us up on Eventbrite with no problems. I even received an e-mail reminder the Wednesday before the race.
Then the problems began. The race was supposed to be on Friday, but the Thursday paper gave a Saturday date for it. I called the number listed on the race page to ask about it…
“Yeah, this is Dave. I signed up me and my son for the 5K, and I just wanted to confirm the date for it.”
“Oh, that’s been cancelled for a while. I didn’t even know the page was still up.”
“Man, that’s a shame. My son was really looking forward to this. How do I go about getting a refund?”
“I don’t even know. I guess you’ll have to call your credit card for that. One of the other volunteers was in charge of the race, and I’m not involved with it.”
“You realize your name and phone number are listed on the website for it, right?”
“Yeah, I’m not really involved with the race. Thanks for calling.”
I started the process of trying to get a refund, which was made even more difficult because the race entry page on Eventbrite was never shutdown. As of the writing for this post, it’s still there. My second act was to walk into the family room and break it to my son that, due to a big screw up by people who didn’t have their act together, he’s gonna not be able to dress up like a superhero or run. Thanks for the welcome to the area!
After this kind of a mess up that I lump into the ‘people sure are stupid sometimes’, I decided to look into the Whatever It Takes ministry a little further. I’m pretty familiar with races being run to support small ministries and charities. It’s a common practice and a fun way to do fundraising. I’m also pretty familiar with the fact that a lot of charities are nothing more than for profit scams. What I found when I investigated the WIT was disconcerting. At this point, I’m not even sure what they do.
Here’s what I found…
There are two WIT (Whatever It Takes) ministries in Chattanooga. By all appearances, both seem to know each other. I’m not sure what the Uncle Grandpa type relationship between the two of them is.
Both of them had something to do with the race. Both of them blamed the race issue on other volunteers who apparently worked for them but they had zero control over. They also seemed unwilling to take responsibility for actions done by these volunteers under the auspices of the ministry name.
Both of them seem to be having a lot of internal troubles as evidence by Facebook posts, phone calls, and this race.
One of them claims to be Christian and the other appears to have an Oriental focus with a yin yang logo (although there’s a Facebook thread where even this seems to have caused problems).
Both of them have Facebook sites.
One of them has a basic website, and I could not find a website for the other one.
I checked on the TN state website for registered charities to see if either was there. Neither one came up. A Google search for “Whatever It Takes Chattanooga” took me to a Guidestar page where one of them was listed. I’m not sure which one, though, as they don’t seem to have shared any information with Guidestar.
In the hopes that you’ll learn from my mistake, here’s a few suggestions I would make…
1.Don’t ever sign up for a charity race unless they also have a big name sponsor attached to it as well. If nothing else, this implies legitimacy and added safety during the race. By big name, I’m talking about a grocery store, fitness store, hospital, or something along those lines.
2.Pay for your races with your credit card and not with Paypal. It’s easier to seek a refund through your credit card than the lengthy Paypal resolution process.
3.Check out all charities before you donate or participate in any way. No evidence of legitimacy or actual charitable work means you should not donate or volunteer.
4.Don’t equate a bunch of Facebook likes on a charity page to any form of legitimacy.
5.Don’t let this keep you from running races with your kids or donating to real charities or your church.
6.Don’t upset my kid again.
Here’s my advice to both WIT charities…
1.Give me a refund on the race that never happened.
2.Apologize to my son.
3.Get your house under control. From the outside it looks like someone pressed self-destruct buttons on both organizations.
4.Fix the issue of having two ministries with the same name in the same city.
5.Establish some legitimacy in your organizations. Maybe partnering with a church or other organization would help you learn how to run a charity.