Sometimes when you try and do a nice thing, it backfires on you. This is what happened to JP Morgan Chase this week, as they announced the winners of their $5 million fundraiser that was being run on Facebook this past month. Several charities complained that the bank disqualified them from the contest over political concerns associated with the organizations agendas.

Worries Over Name Association?

The three charities that have come forward with allegation that Chase removed them from the running were Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), and Justice for All. These non-profits claim that they were in the running to become one of the top 100 companies when Chase inexplicably took them off the list, allegedly because the bank did not want their name associated with these organizations. SSDP and MPP both promote changes to the current U.S. drug policy, and Justice for All is an anti-abortion organization.

While the contest rules specifically state that the bank has the right to disqualify any organization, the executive director of Justice for All David Lee said that there is a problem of transparency of the voting process.

“Simply publish the votes and let us see that the 100 organizations named as winners won” he said.

Taking Down Leaderboards

According to a Chase representative, the bank took down the leaderboards showing the number of votes each charity received before the announcement of the winners so that they could “build excitement” amongst participants, and “ensure that all Facebook users learn of the 100 winners at the same time.”

Unlike other social networking charity fundraisers, Chase allowed any charity with an operating budget under $10 million to sign up, rather than selecting a group for user to choose from. Although Chase took down the leaderboard, there were other groups who kept their own tallies, and were surprised that not only Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, Justice for All and other groups did not win, as they were doing well in the voting process, but that the charities seemed exclusively have mission that promoted pro-life agendas or changes in drug policy.

Chase has not made a comment on the disqualified organizations or released the vote tallies.  For more information on the Chase Community Giving Program, see our article here.

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  • kgilnack

    “Sometimes when you try and do a nice thing, it backfires on you.” – This is perhaps the most biased and off-base introduction I've ever seen. I understand this is a site that caters to banks, but let's not gloss over the fact that Chase has seemingly disqualified nonprofit organizations based on their own agenda and feigned transparency and openness, until the very end when they decided to intervene. Chase ended up wasting the nonprofits' limited time, resources, and supporter good will, only to back peddle at the 11th hour.

    While that may have been specified in the small print and is there right to do so, they should have been upfront from the start so that anti-choice organizations and those advocating for changes in drug policy didn't invest their limited time and resources into channeling supporters to the Facebook contest. I'd suggest that in the future companies either create a list of 'approved' charities, or actually keep it open. If you are going to go down the path of “open to everyone.. except you, you, and you” then notify those organizations when the first vote is cast, not after milking them for all of the publicity until the last minute.

    While I certainly wouldn't have wanted my dollars going to an anti-choice group, I'd rather make a contribution to them than ever do business with Chase again for the way they deceived nonprofits and people who voted in the contest and abandoned the transparency of it all.

  • James

    kgilnack, I force you to give your money to anti-abortion groups.

    Sounds pretty terrible when I say that right? Well you're doing the exact same thing. It is *THEIR* money. They can give it to whomever they like. That's why it is called “giving”… if they want to change the rules that is fine when *THEY* are the ones making the game!

  • Titus

    According to a LEAP rep, SSDP was in the top 15% of the original 100, and very likely would have won the contest. SSDP has a reasonable mission, especially with our exploding deficits, and questionable governmental science. I think we need to consider reducing the number of over-50's in our political and corporate institutions. Information wise, older people are far to ignorant to run anything. Out national debt being a testimony to this.