WEAVE was founded to serve as Sacramento County’s primary provider of crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. While we receive some government grants, we depend upon individual donations to provide life-saving and life-changing programs.
These programs and others that serve vulnerable women, men and children are jeopardized by a misguided and unnecessarily burdensome piece of legislation – Assembly Bill 2855. AB 2855 is not supported by a single nonprofit organization, but is opposed by hundreds of nonprofits from across California and beyond.
While we support transparency, AB 2855 – which could be voted on this week by the Assembly Appropriations Committee – would not provide meaningful help to donors.
By requiring every charitable organization that seeks donations in California to include a link on their home page to the state attorney general’s website, AB 2855 proposes a “warning label” approach where none is warranted. AB 2855 also requires this link to be included with every piece of mail, newsletter, all emails that seek donations and on food and clothing donation bins. Since the attorney general has always broadly defined charitable solicitations, the warning label might also be required on Facebook pages, posts and tweets.
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These requirements would cast an unfair shadow of suspicion on tens of thousands of nonprofits that operate ethically and honestly without truly increasing transparency for donors. Indeed, nonpartisan legislative analyses call AB 2855’s provisions “unduly onerous” and note that “there are already many laws and disclosure requirements that make nonprofit information transparent and easily accessible, including through the Attorney General’s website.” Complying with AB 2855 would constitute a new administrative burden on every nonprofit, diverting time and resources away from efforts to provide services to people in need.
The bill’s author points to recent high-profile cases of organizations acting unethically. But in doing so, he actually highlights the uselessness of the bill. Those cases came to light under current law and authorities took action. Just last year, California Association of Nonprofits worked with Attorney General Kamala Harris to pass legislation closing a disclosure loophole in California’s fundraising laws.
WEAVE’s staff and board of directors are committed to managing resources wisely and maintaining the trust of the more than 6,000 individuals who contribute cash and in-kind goods each year. WEAVE is audited annually by an independent accounting firm. When donors choose to support WEAVE, their donations ensure 24/7 crisis intervention services are available to all victims in need. That need is growing every year; WEAVE must raise more than $1.4 million this year in private donations to meet demand.
More than 80 percent of Californians in a recent survey were confident that nonprofits act on the public’s behalf and deliver quality services. AB 2855 would hurt organizations trying to keep their doors open and provide services to those in need.
Beth Hassett is CEO of WEAVE. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.