Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

Charitable Contributions: A Legal Money Laundering System
Margaret Pittman
International Studies
Faculty Mentor(s):
Amanda Wray
Abstract / Summary:
Elon Musk tweeted on October 31, 2021, "If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it. But it must be open source accounting, so the public sees precisely how they spend the money.” The WFP is a major U.S.-based non-profit organization focusing on humanitarian work and determining what is considered a charitable nonprofit. There are five types of nonprofits: charitable nonprofits, title-holding trust corporations, community welfare organizations, veterans organizations, and civic league organizations. The media has increasingly highlighted the lack of transparency in how nonprofits manage their wealth. Many organization leaders are called out for misuse of funds and living lavish lifestyles. Yet, organizations such as the Cancer Fund of America or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are omitted from scrutiny. Who is holding organizations responsible for their financial practices and ensuring they use the money for its marketed purpose? For this project, I intend to engage and inform the public about how nonprofits operate, how the cash flows through the system, and where it ends up. It is an important topic because it needs to be more widely discussed, and I hope it brings more attention and scrutiny to how charitable funds are utilized.
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