What is No More? I don’t know for sure, and I’m not the first to ask that question or give that answer.
It’s easier to say what No More isn’t. No More is not a corp., an inc., or a company (as in someone like Kate Spade & Company). It’s not a PC or LLC or partnership.
Its founder and director, Virginia Witt, explained to the No More “executive committee” in a talking points email that No More is neither a nonprofit organization nor a for-profit organization. Instead, No More is a not-a-for-profit organization.
That’s a head-scratcher. Common sense suggests that it’s either a for-profit or a not-for-profit, but No More writes its own rules, so it declared itself a not-a-for-profit. On this issue it is obviously trying to dodge tax rules so it doesn’t have to pay taxes. It is not recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit, but being a for-profit could require it to declare as income (and possibly pay taxes on) contributions from its various funders.
I wonder who pays the bills at No More. By that I mean, who physically writes the checks? Where does the money come from? Who does the accounting or bookkeeping for funds received and spent on behalf of No More? Who designates someone to pay the bills and account for the money? No More’s strange lack of a conventional organization structure raises many more questions as you will see. You probably will have questions I haven’t posed, but I pose plenty.
The No More-Joyful Heart Foundation Fiscal Sponsor Relationship
Instead of being a conventional organization, No More says it is a campaign, a movement, a symbol, a brand, a project. No More describes itself as a “project” in explaining its connection with Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation. Director Virginia Witt told Deadspin’s Diana Moskovitz, “NO MORE is [a] non-profit project in the sense that it is a project of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization.”
In Part VI of this series of posts, I attempted, not completely successfully, to pinpoint exactly what the relationship between No More and the Joyful Heart Foundation (JHF) is. JHF has informed the IRS on its tax returns that it is “a fiscal sponsor” of No More. (The “a” leaves open the possibility that No More has other fiscal sponsors we don’t know about.) On its website, JHF proudly describes No More as one of its programs, which, JHF says, is a three year campaign that ends in 2016. That campaign is a series of public service announcements (PSA) in which celebrities and football players say things like “no more excuses” about domestic violence and sexual assault.
It doesn’t appear that the NFL’s Super Bowl PSA is a part of that three year campaign. I have found no indication that JHF was involved in the Super Bowl ad. So what was No More’s organizational structure and tax status when it produced that PSA? No one is saying.
My friend David Ramos is a certified public accountant in Lakeland, Florida. He specializes in accounting for nonprofit organizations. Fiscal sponsors, he explains, receive money from donors/funders to be used for projects of other organizations. The donors can place very specific restrictions on how the money is to be spent. And the donor can get a tax deduction for making a contribution to be used for the project because the money is given to and spent by the fiscal sponsor, a nonprofit recognized by the IRS. Because the fiscal sponsor receives and spends the money, the “project” doesn’t have to pay taxes on the donations.
In Part VI, I explained how some of the different types of fiscal sponsorships work, and how scrupulously the nonprofit sponsor has to comply with IRS rules for receiving, managing, and spending the money. While writing Part VI, I asked both No More and Joyful Heart for a copy of their fiscal sponsorship agreement. Both of them ignored my requests, in effect refusing to disclose their arrangement.
Assuming as JHF says, its PSA campaign is for three years ending in 2016, No More appears to be engaged in more activities than the fiscal sponsorship contemplates and apparently plans to continue operating after the Joyful Heart PSA campaign ends next year. There is a likely explanation for the non-JHF activities, one suggested to me by CPA David Ramos. No More is in effect two organizations operating under one name. It’s a program of JHF. It is also an independent organization free to help the NFL or, more recently, the City of Memphis, with reputation repair work.
No More’s non-JHF activities raise lots of questions about how No More avoids taxes on the money, services, and in-kind donations received and/or expended on its behalf, and whether Joyful Heart is carefully guarding its nonprofit status. Joyful Heart is required to file with the IRS a Schedule B listing contributions it has received. The form is supposed to be available to the public. The IRS is very explicit about that: Except for information that identifies contributors, “All other information, including the amount of contributions, the description of noncash contributions, and any other information, is required to be available for public inspection unless it clearly identifies the contributor.”
JHF says on its tax returns that tax documents are available upon request. I asked JHF for a copy of its Schedule B, with appropriate redactions of information that identified contributors. They ignored me.
The IRS ought to be asking the Joyful Heart Foundation and No More these questions: Are charitable contributions used in any way to fund No More’s activities? Are all charitable contributions funneled through Joyful Heart? Does any human or corporation get a tax deduction for contributions that fund No More expenses although they’re not funneled through JHF?
Who Hires and Pays No More’s “Employees”?
I put employees in quotes because I’m not sure of the employment status of the individuals who run No More. Before Moskovitz and I started trying to figure out what No More is, nomore.org did not list a single human being as having a role in its operation. It did not identify staff or employees or name its executive director on its website, nomore.org. It did not have a board of directors, and it listed only organizations on its executive committee and steering committee.
Less than two months ago, No More added a list of its “team” to “about” on its website. You have to look for it, because there is no specific link to staff. No More, still doesn’t have a board of directors, but it added human representatives for the members of its steering committee. Again, you have to know how to find them to know they’re there. In Part I and again in Parts II and III, I discussed No More’s no-humans-on-board website, but the links in those posts now go to No More’s four-humans-on-board modifications.
On January 2, 2015, the New York Times published a piece titled, “The Team Behind the N.F.L.’s ‘No More’ Campaign.” The article stated that No More’s “staff is small (four part-time consultants and no full-time employees).” Nomore.org now says, “Day-to-day, NO MORE is overseen by a small, but dedicated team:
- Virginia Witt, Director
- Jill Morris, Field Liaison
- Rachel Haas, Communications & Digital Manager
- Emma Bethel, Communications & Outreach Coordinator”
Nomore.org doesn’t, however, describe those four as staff or employees, nor does it say whether they are full- or part-time or whether they are consultants.
Jane Randel is not listed on nomore.org as a paid consultant or employee or independent contractor. Randel is one of the three No More co-founders. Like director/co-founder Virginia Witt and the third co-founder, Anne Glauber, Randel is an expert in repairing corporate reputations. She describes herself in her newly modified Linkedin profile as a “social responsibility consultant” and claims that she is currently employed by two organizations: as “co-founder” of No More and as “Senior Advisor” to the NFL.
Given the listing on nomore.org of four “team” members who oversee day-to-day operations and Randel’s claim on LinkedIn to be employed by No More, there are several questions whose answers would shed a lot of light on what No More is, who runs it, and who pays its bills. What is NFL adviser Jane Randel’s job at No More? Who hired Virginia Witt as director. What organization or individual writes the checks for the four team members and for Randel if she is, as she claims, currently working for No More? Does No More provide the team members W-2 forms or 1099s? If not, does someone else? Who? Which form is provided? Who reports their income and sends copies of the forms to the IRS?
No More owes the public answers to these questions after seizing the public spotlight on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. If it wants to be a unifying symbol, as it repeatedly claims, why does it divide by concealing what it really is?