Big Tech is involved in all sorts of grand gesturing these days, such as removing words like “master,” “whitelist,” “blacklist” and the like from their code and products; this is their way of responding to political and societal upheaval in the US after the death of George Floyd.
But even those who decided to put their money where their mouth is seem to have narrowly avoided putting it in the wrong, or at least, the unintended place, a report suggests.
Donating money to various organizations, most often to “Black Lives Matter,” is something that activists and their supporters often urge people to do. According to the report, their money would then be used by the movement to “bring racial justice and defund the police.”
These are apparently the goals Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox were ready to support with $4 million raised by their employees and these companies' matching donations on the fundraising platform Benevity alone.
But what they actually chose to donate to was the “Black Lives Matter Foundation” – a different organization whose goal is “bringing the community and police closer together.”
The Black Lives Matter Foundation founder Robert Ray Barnes said that his organization's “whole thing is having unity with the police department,” as well as that they were not affiliated in any way with Black Lives Matter Global Network, Inc.
It then emerged that “the real” Black Lives Matter, the Black Lives Matter Global Network, is incorporated in Delaware and uses its own partner to collect money. The Black Lives Matter Foundation, on the other hand, is a nonprofit registered in California. Hence the “(brand) confusion” among those – from Big Tech to hundreds of smaller fundraisers – who decided to donate via a host of other platforms.
Meanwhile, Benevity founder Bryan de Lottinville said that the millions of dollars raised for Barnes' foundation had not yet been transferred. Instead, a disclaimer was first put on Barnes' organization's page; the page then got “deactivated” on June 5.
“Part of the problem is that it's using the exact same name, and it's a 501(c)(3) and is in good standing with the IRS,” Lottinville told BuzzFeed.
PayPal said the Black Lives Matter Foundation was included in the service's Giving Fund database – used, among others, by fundraising platform GoFundMe – “because it was an IRS-registered charity.” A spokesperson also revealed that the Black Lives Matter name has not been trademarked.
Even so, PayPal will be redirecting funds to organizations “directly associated with the Black Lives Matter movement,” while Benevity “plans to offer donors the option of rerouting the funds to the actual Black Lives Matter movement or other racial justice causes.”