Amazon has booted the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation from its charity platform amid scrutiny over the group's finances and glaring lack of fiscal transparency.
What did Amazon say?
AmazonSmile — a corporate program that donates money from eligible Amazon purchases to designated charities and nonprofits — suspended BLMGNF from the platform this week for being out of compliance with nonprofit standards in many states, the Washington Examiner reported.
A representative for Amazon explained:
We offer the AmazonSmile program to make it easy for our customers to support their favorite charitable organizations, and we work to offer a broad spectrum of organizations, including those working to end racial injustice. States have rules for nonprofits, and organizations participating in AmazonSmile need to meet those rules. Unfortunately this organization fell out of compliance with the rules in several states, so we’ve had to temporarily suspend them from the program until they come into compliance.
We hope that happens soon, and in the meantime, customers who have already selected them in AmazonSmile are able to continue supporting them, and we’ll hold any funds accrued until they’re back in compliance.
What is the background?
The news comes after Black Lives Matter shut down its online fundraising platform upon receiving legal threats from attorneys general in California and Washington, who demanded that the group explain what happened to $60 million the organization had at the end of 2020.
Not only are those states questioning the group's finances, but BLMGNF remains out of compliance with nonprofit financial standards in Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.
However, instead of disclosing the truth about where the finances went, the Washington Examiner reported on Wednesday that BLM is using an "unusual accounting maneuver to further delay reporting" of its 2020 finances. By changing the group's accounting period from a calendar year to a July to June fiscal year, BLMGNF has until mid-May to explain its undisclosed financial data.
According to the Examiner, the move also "enabled BLM to report a sparse, short-year Form 990 to the IRS that covered its activities during only the first half of 2020," an important detail considering donations to the group exploded after May 2020 upon the protests stemming from George Floyd's murder.
Since BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors resigned as head of the group last year, BLMGNF has remained without a stated leader, and thus it remains legally unknown who controls the $60 million in assets.
Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch, has described BLMGNF as "a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction."