What was that about eggs and baskets?

The ACLU’s largest anonymous donor is no longer anonymous – and no longer a donor.  As mentioned on Dan Flynn’s FlynnFiles, David Gelbaum can no longer afford to write his annual $19 million check – a figure which represents one quarter of the group’s annual donations.  Combined with money he gave to the Sierra Club and groups that returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Gelbaum’s withdrawal from philanthropy represents a lost $81 million in donations.

Anyone who has drawn a check from a non-profit group (especially one that is more political than charitable, as I have) can attest, economic years like 2008 and 2009 usually mean reduced donations, which lead to layoffs and budget cuts.  Of course, it’s more work to have a donor strategy with more individual donors giving smaller amounts, but dispersing the financial burden of an organization is like building a car with a wider wheel base or a house with a wider foundation – it’s just more stable.

No organization in their right mind would turn down a yearly check of $19 million.  At the same time, part of the reality of the non-profit world is understanding that at any time, any given donation can go away.  Maybe the ACLU knows this, maybe they don’t, but in either case they have provided a cautionary tale for other non-profits.

I would say that it sucks to get this kind of news around Christmas, but that might be overly religious.

Claus 2008

Wired.com wrote about a man named Santa Claus – that’s his legal name – who is complaining about the 5,000-friend limit on Facebook profiles. Since there are now just 99 days left until Christmas, my interest was piqued; I started clicking links to find out more about Santa.

Santa Claus, it turns, out, is the head of an organization called the Santa Claus Foundation. According to the group’s website, they advocate on behalf of children. But as you would expect, some things about Claus and Co. just don’t add up. For instance, the group claims to produce “educational materials to help ensure children’s health, safety, and welfare.” The only “educational material” I saw were a few YouTube clips, some from other organizations, and some where Santa talked about Presidential candidates needing to do more to advance the cause of children – which is a tough candy cane to suck on when the clip starts with the line, “I’m Santa Claus, I’m a Christian monk and Children’s advocate, I live in Lake Tahoe…”

A disclaimer on the home page sums up the ridiculousness: “Please note that this website is not designed for viewing by children!” I repeat: This website… about Santa Claus… is not for children. It’s all just too much…

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear?
An alternate site: Vote for Santa this year!

Apparently, the 501(c)(3) non-profit Santa Claus Foundation is putting it’s head up for election this year as President of the United States. “Can’t happen,” you might say, “he isn’t a U.S.-born citizen.” How soon you forget that Santa lives in Lake Tahoe.

And sure enough, there on the home page of Santa’s campaign site is a YouTube video: “Santa Claus Slams Obama and McCain: Announces Candidacy for President.” Apparently Santa “slams” people now; perhaps coal was no longer working for naughty boys and girls.

You can show your support by voting in Santa’s online poll, which asks the question: Why are you voting for Santa?

  • Santa advocates for vulnerable children
  • Santa does not accept campaign contributions
  • Santa wants a future filled with love not fear
  • I do not like Senator Obama or Senator McCain

Are these Santa-approved reasons to reject the major party candidates? And doesn’t it fly in the face of what Santa stands for to say that you just plain don’t like someone? Where’s the Christmas spirit there?

What you won’t find on either Santa’s campaign site or the main Santa Claus foundation site is original research about children’s issues or any educational materials. You will find some pictures with politicians and hugging children, a few vague comments about neglected children, and – of course – a button you can click on to donate money. I could be wrong, but I’d think twice before sending these folks so much as a glass of milk and a dish of cookies, though.