Local nonprofits want off charity website

Say listings create donor confusion

By Robert Knox
Globe Correspondent / February 6, 2011

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Saying they eschew outside fund-raisers, several South Shore nonprofit organizations are objecting to a California-based website’s unauthorized use of their names and information.

The organizations, including the Plymouth-based Friends of the Ellisville Marshes and the Carver-based Friends of Myles Standish State Forest, say a new website called Charity Blossom asks people to make “pledges’’ of contributions to them and to other registered nonprofits.

The local nonprofits say Charity Blossom has downloaded the names of all the registered tax-exempt groups in the country from the Internal Revenue Service. Scores of familiar religious, educational, and human service organizations appear in the site’s Massachusetts listings.

Charity Blossom states that its goal is to help charities “by making it easy for you give money easily and efficiently, no matter how much.’’ It asks donors to make pledges on the site and then directs them to other websites where the pledges can be made through credit cards.

Even though Charity Blossom is not directly collecting donations, leaders of local nonprofits say they are outraged by its tactics.

“They are not authorized to solicit donations for us,’’ said Eric Cody, president of Friends of the Ellisville Marshes, which was formed to save a dying South Plymouth salt marsh.

“We have a great interest in keeping our name squeaky clean,’’ Cody said in a recent interview. “We don’t use outside fund-raisers. We have raised $80,000 without hiring anybody. We do not give a penny away. We do not pay a finder’s fee.’’

Several South Shore nonprofits complained last month to the public charities division of the attorney general’s office.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s Office acknowledged the contacts, but said policy prohibits him from saying whether an investigation was taking place.

“We have been in contact with both groups and are aware of their concerns,’’ said spokesman Harry Pierre.

Charity Blossom did not respond to several calls and e-mails seeking comment for this article.