No More, the shadowy organization credited with producing the NFL’s Super Bowl public service ad (PSA) wants to be “the overarching symbol” for domestic violence and rape. I have been trying to figure out who No More is since Diana Moskovitz made a convincing case on Deadspin (1,2,3) that No More is really just a brand created by branding experts to repair their corporate clients’ negative images concerning violence against women.
Besides being a corporate reputation fixer, No More has hurt the domestic violence movement’s message by conflating DV with sexual assault, including rape by strangers, which has nothing to do with domestic violence. That conflation makes it even more difficult for the public to understand the horror of rape by strangers and by acquaintances and the horrendous effects of rape on rape victims.
Part I of my ever-expanding post on No More and the NFL discussed my own search for humans on No More’s website listings of a board of directors (no board exists), staff (none listed), executive committee (no humans), steering committee (no humans), allies (no humans). In Part II, I tracked down the three co-founders of No More: Jane Randel, Virginia Witt, and Anne Glauber and demonstrated that all are public relations executives who are experts on repairing corporate reputations by linking companies to good causes. No surprise that Randel was appointed one of three advisers to the NFL to deal with its PR disasters resulting from vicious domestic violence and child abuse perpetrated by football players, especially Ray Rice.
My third post identified a few other human beings associated with No More, especially Maile Zambuto and Christine Mau, both described in various places as members of No More’s no-humans-allowed executive committee. Mau is a highly regarded branding expert at Kimberly Clark. She is credited with inspiring the design of the teal “No More O” brand. Zambuto is CEO of Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation and was instrumental in the creation of “no more” public service announcements against domestic violence and sexual assault featuring celebrities and NFL players.
Just as I was about to upload a post of what would have been the fourth in the ongoing series, Jane Randel and No More changed the playbook. So instead of a post on the Joyful Heart Foundation’s connection with No More, I found myself telling in Part IV how Randel had suddenly started taking credit for No More in her LinkedIn profile after not even acknowledging it before. In effect, the NFL’s go-to reputation doctor was trying to repair her own reputation.
No More made an even bigger effort at damage control. And screwed it up by falsely claiming that no one in particular owns the No More symbol. In Part V of these posts, I demonstrated that the exact symbol/brand/logo that No More now claims no one owns is in fact trademarked and owned by purse maker Kate Spade & Company, Randel’s former employer. Not only does Kate Spade own the No More trademark, Spade has “mortgaged” its rights to the trademark by granting big banks a security interest in it as collateral for loans.
The No More – Joyful Heart affiliation
Today I’m finally getting back to the post on the No More/Joyful Heart connection. But much has changed, and I’ve located information I didn’t have when I started writing about it a few weeks ago. There are still lots of unanswered questions, not least of which is why No More tries to minimize the relationship with Mariska Hargitay’s foundation.
On its website, Joyful Heart proudly claims No More as one of its “programs.” You can find page after page of grand statements about No More at joyfulheartfoundation.org. By contrast, No More doesn’t appear to be very proud of its affiliation with Joyful Heart.
Here’s how I planned to describe No More’s acknowledgement of Joyful Heart before No More made wholesale website changes in March, 2015:
“A No More press release in March 2014 lists Joyful Heart and several other nonprofits as ‘partners of No More.’ And No More lists Joyful Heart Foundation as a member of its no-humans-allowed executive committee. To find out anything else about Joyful Heart Foundation on No More’s website, you just about have to do a word search. Even then you don’t find much.”
Even after recent major revisions of the information on its website, No More still hasn’t fully embraced Joyful Heart, which is astonishing considering the tax benefits and credibility bestowed upon No More by Joyful Heart. (I’ll get to the tax issue a few paragraphs down the page.) Take a close look at nomore.org as it is today. Unlike Joyful Heart, which has No More stuff everywhere, you have to make an effort to find something about Joyful Heart at nomore.org. In its refurbished “about No More” section there is not a single word, not one, about Joyful Heart. It doesn’t exhibit a Joyful Heart logo on its home page or provide a link to Joyful Heart there. There is nothing on the home page even hinting at a connection between the two organizations.
Like before its makeover, the No More website includes Joyful Heart as a member of its no-humans-allowed executive committee. But wait, humans are allowed now, if you know how to find them. What a month ago was a numbered list of 13 organizations is now a list of 11, with little + signs in front of each organization’s name. Click on an organization and you find the names of 1 or 2 humans. In Joyful Heart’s case it’s CEO Maile Zambuto. Interestingly, although Anne Glauber and Christine Mau are included for their companies, Jane Randel, who claims current employment by No More as its co-founder, is nowhere to be found. Virginia Witt likewise is missing from the executive committee, although she is referred to as No More’s director in “about,” the first time there’s been a listing of staff on the website (only four people).
No More’s New Business Form: “not a for profit organization”
To my knowledge, No More’s first public acknowledgement of a financial relationship with Joyful Heart was given in response to Moskovitz’s questioning whether No More actually existed and whether it was entitled to non-profit tax status. Director and co-founder Virginia Witt told Moskovitz that “NO MORE is non-profit project in the sense that it is a project of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization.”
When Moskovitz went ahead with her exposure of No More as a sham, Witt issued talking points“, doubling down on double-speak. “Is No More a non-profit or a for-profit organization,” she thought her cohorts might be asked. Tell them, she said, “NO MORE is not a for profit organization. … It’s a project of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a registered non-profit.”
So instead of being either a non-profit or a not-for-profit, No More is a third category, not a for profit. Pure obfuscation. A good lawyer would have a field day cross-examining on that one.
No More Finally Admits That Joyful Heart Foundation Is it’s “fiscal sponsor”
After dancing around the question with Moskovitz, No More changed its website. But even when pressed by criticism, No More didn’t go out of its way to honor its benefactor, Joyful Heart. You have to make an effort, but if you click on “about” then click on “FAQs” then click on “Is No More a non-profit?” you will finally find a reference to Joyful Heart:
“NO MORE is not an independent non-profit. Because NO MORE is a collaboration of many groups, it was agreed that the campaign work through a fiscal sponsor. To that end, the Joyful Heart Foundation, a registered 501c3 and one of the founding organizations behind NO MORE, serves that role.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Joyful Heart. It’s more like, somebody had to do it, might as well be Joyful Heart.
And look at the wording, more obfuscation and dissembling. “[I]t was agreed” that they would work through a fiscal sponsor. Remember your high school English teacher admonishing you not to use the passive voice, like “it was agreed”? Domestic violence victims often use the passive voice in describing what happened to them. By saying, “That’s when I got hit,” a victim can avoid saying who hit her and try to protect herself from retaliation by the man glaring at her in the courtroom. In the same way, No More used the passive voice and avoided telling us WHO agreed to work through a fiscal sponsor. The difference is the DV victim is avoiding retaliation by her victimizer, No More is avoiding transparency with the public.
Note, too, that No More says that it was agreed that “the campaign” use a fiscal sponsor. As we will see, what “the campaign” means may be critical to figuring out just who No More is. Plus, No More is now talking about “founding organizations” for the first time, claiming Joyful Heart was one of them. Where are No More’s lists of founding humans or founding organizations? No Where.
Joyful Heart Openly Says it’s No More’s Fiscal Sponsor
I’ll get back to what it means to work through a fiscal sponsor shortly. But first I point out that Joyful Heart has been telling the world it’s No More’s fiscal sponsor for a few years. It’s on Joyful Heart’s audited financial statements prepared in connection with their Form 990 non-profit tax returns. But even Joyful Heart and its CPAs can’t keep the story straight.
Joyful Heart is sometimes referred to as JHF in the financial statements. Note A to the financials approved by the auditors November 1, 2013, says, “In February, 2012, JHF began to serve as a financial sponsor for a new program initiative (‘No More’).” That claim changed for the financials approved on November 3, 2014:
“In February, 2011, JHF began to serve as a fiscal sponsor for a new program initiative (“No More”). JHF’s CEO also serves as a founding member of NO MORE’s Executive Committee, and JHF is one of more than two dozen organizations on NO MORE’s Steering Committee.”
Strange, I think, that in 2013 Joyful Heart claimed it became “a” fiscal sponsor in 2012, but in 2014 backdated its role as “a” fiscal sponsor a year, to 2011. When, really, did the fiscal sponsorship begin? And is there a difference between being “a” fiscal sponsor and being “the” fiscal sponsor?
It’s important to remember that these are JHF’s audited financial statements supporting their tax returns. Their non-profit tax status is on the line here, so you have to think the changes were an effort by Joyful Heart to stay straight with the IRS. That gives credibility to their statement that the sponsorship began in 2011. Just like the credibility Kate Spade & Company deserves for telling big banks it owned the No More trademark when it granted the banks a security interest in the trademark as collateral for loans. No More, on the other hand, can, and apparently does, say whatever it wants to to avoid telling us who it really is.
Joyful Heart says the financial sponsorship began in 2011, but No More never mentioned it till 2015. That’s four years of silence by No More. The National Network of Fiscal Sponsors has established voluntary guidelines for disclosure of sponsorships. The National Network’s “recommended best practices” says, “The fiscal sponsor requires projects to clearly disclose in writing their affiliation with the fiscal sponsor in … online materials.” No More went four years without making the disclosure. Joyful Heart apparently didn’t care or notice. Doesn’t look good for either of them.
In 2014 Joyful Heart decided to add to its financial statements a reference to CEO Maile Zambuto as “a founding member of NO MORE’s Executive Committee.” Is being a founding member of the executive committee the same as being a co-founder, like Randel, Witt, and Glauber? How does Zambuto’s being a founding member of the executive committee relate to the claim that Joyful Heart is one of No More’s “founding organizations”? No one really tells us those things. Instead they throw around different phrases for how No More was created and who did it.
What Happened in 2009, Who Did It, and Why?
Everywhere you look for information about the origins of No More, you find statements like, “No More has been in the making since 2009.” I haven’t been able to find out what happened in 2009 or who did it. But I have pieced together a lot of the history. This puzzle-solving would all be so unnecessary if No More would stop dissembling and obfuscating and start being completely transparent about who it is, who controls it, and what it’s corporate reputation repair mission is. I don’t think that’s too much to ask from an organization that wants us all to revere it as “the overarching symbol” of opposition to domestic violence and rape.
No More director, Virginia Witt, told Moskovitz at Deadspin that the No More brand was developed in 2010 and 2011, after focus testing. The application to trademark it was filed by Liz Claiborne/Fifth & Pacific/Kate Spade in 2011. In an “interview” on Joyful Heart’s blog, Zambuto says that when No More was created “and started to gain traction,” Hargitay seized the opportunity to get behind it as a way to do a large-scale PSA (public service announcement) campaign. There’s that word “campaign” again.
The implication is that Hargitay and Joyful Heart didn’t have a role in the creation of No More in 2009 but got involved when No More began “to gain traction.” Joyfulheartfoundation.org confirms that Zambuto became a member of the executive committee of No More in 2011 but doesn’t say anything about her being a “founding” member. JHF’s auditor’s report in 2014 says Joyful Heart became a No More fiscal sponsor in 2011.
These dates and events are all over the place. If No More has been in the making since 2009, and Joyful Heart and its CEO have been in leadership since 2011 when No More “began to gain traction,” who was in charge in the intervening two years? Randel, Witt, and Glauber are the most likely suspects. Why did those three corporate reputation fixers create No More in the first place? Why did they turn to Joyful Heart to be their fiscal sponsor, and what does that mean, anyway?
What It Means To Be a “fiscal sponsor”
“Fiscal sponsor” is an elusive term. A 1990s book by attorney Gregory L. Colvin has become the gospel on fiscal sponsorship. In a synopsis of the book presented at an American Bar Association meeting in 1993, Colvin explained that a donor (a person or an organization with money) makes a donation to a non-profit (like Joyful Heart) earmarked for another organization (like No More). According to Colvin, for the donation to be tax deductible by the donor, the IRS requires that the non-profit fiscal sponsor (say, Joyful Heart) “have complete discretion and control over the funds.” (The italics were inserted by Colvin himself in the synopisis.)
Colvin described six varieties (he calls them models) of fiscal sponsorship, ranging from total ownership of the project by the sponsor to loose affiliations between the sponsor and the project. I don’t know what the arrangement is between No More and Joyful Heart, but not from lack of trying.
Joyful Heart and No More Wouldn’t Disclose Their Agreement to Me
I emailed both of them a request for a copy of their fiscal sponsorship agreement. No More responded that they would get back to me. They didn’t. Joyful Heart ignored me. Probably not a good idea for a prominent organization that wants to protect its tax exempt status, especially when they say on their tax returns that documents are available immediately by email upon request.
In my next post I will try to “follow the money” spent by or on behalf of No More, but for today it’s sufficient to point out that No More spends a lot of money not related to the Joyful Heart/No More public service announcement campaign. That’s a three year campaign, and it’s expected to end next year.
I presume that the PSA “campaign” is the No More “program” on Joyful Heart’s website, but I can’t be sure because they don’t reveal their agreement. But what about the tee shirts No More sells from its store and its sponsorship of lavish concerts and a party at SXSW? And just take a look at the No More website – elaborate and expensive. Is all that part of Joyful Heart’s fiscal sponsorship?
And what about the future of No More? Will Joyful Heart’s fiscal sponsorship end when the three-year PSA campaign ends. How much control does Joyful Heart have over Jane Randel and Virginia Witt? How wide and for how long is Joyful Heart willing to spread its umbrella over No More and risk its public standing for propping up what is really a corporate shill designed to fix the reputations of insensitive organizations like the NFL?
Who’s in charge here, really?