Pacific Crisis Fundraiser Update
When the news about the Japan earthquake and the pacific tsunamis were released it was devastating to so many. Not only to those who were directly affected by these disasters but also to those who had loved ones or friends in the area, and many people across secondlife, across the world, who’s hearts went out to those in need. The Pacific Crisis Fundraiser was a way for us to make a much needed contribution to those people who had lost everything. Keira, Sanura and I joined forces and with the help of so many others we were able to carry out an event that raised a total of 5,791,818 L$.
When we first discussed this idea, I don’t think any of us thought we’d raise anywhere near that amount of money we did. The SecondLife community has always been great about coming together to help those in need, but that amount still amazes us to this day. It was beyond even our highest expectations. We want to thank everyone for the time and the effort you put into all the work you did that benefited this fundraiser.
When the PCF event started, we were contacted by other people who had planned on doing events to help raise funds for charity as well. We were asked to work with them in a joint effort to raise the most money we could for this cause. We gladly accepted. We had people organizing music events, DJ’s donating tips from their sets, prompting people to donate even more during their set, a horse auction that helped raise these funds, many clubs and other businesses across the grid placing the donation jars out at their location to help, the response was incredible, and while the PCF sales event ended on April 10th, the donations did not stop there. The final event that contributed to these donations was CoLab For A Cause. This event ended on May 6th.
It’s been brought to my attention that there are concerns with the fundraiser money and what’s going on with it. I hope to answer as many questions as possible in this post, but please…if you have any further questions, feel free to IM me at anytime and I will be happy to discuss this with you one on one. I would like to state for the record, that posted conversations, may or may not be an accurate account of the full conversation that took place. So for anyone that has read bits and pieces of a conversation, I want to express to you now, that not a full account of what was said was made available to everyone and my place in this fundraiser was not to get involved with drama or he said she said stuff, my intention and goal has and always will be, to help in even the smallest way I possibly can to make a difference in the lives of the people who need it the most.
When we (the organizers) of the PCF event realized the amount of money that was being raised we were just floored, we couldn’t believe it, and at that time given the fact that we did not expect to raise that amount of money, we were truly unsure of the best way to handle the transfer of funds. Between the three of us, it seemed I, Heather Smithson, was the best candidate to deal with the actual transfer of funds, so I started exploring my options.
My first step was contacting Linden Labs both through live chat and over the telephone. After speaking to several people who really were unable to provide any clear answers, I decided to explore other options. Paypal seemed the most obvious.
Apparently you cannot transfer more than 10k USD through paypal at one time. And if you transfer more than 20k USD through paypal they notify the IRS and it appears as income. This was a huge concern for me, because I am not in a position in RL that makes me capable of paying some huge tax liability. Other options had to be explored.
I contacted an accountant locally and the local H&R Block Tax office to inquire about any legal or financial hurdles I may experience along the way. Sadly, there really didn’t seem to be any clear cut answers to be found at that time. They just didn’t know for sure, what the best process would be or how I should handle it. So I contacted the IRS.
When speaking with the IRS I was told that if I transferred these funds into my personal bank or paypal account, that it would appear as “income” for me personally. That means there would have been a huge tax liability and the IRS could not give me an exact amount of that liability when I spoke to them on the telephone. They did however offer me something of an alternative to using my personal accounts for this transaction. They instructed me on how to apply for an EIC number and how to establish an organization of my own, quite frankly, as easy as it sounded, it was still a bit intimidating. At this point I contacted AmeriCares directly.
I contacted AmeriCares directly hoping that they would establish a presence in SL to help make this transaction as easy as possible. I spoke to a few different people within their organization, finally I spoke with Diana Maguire, and I asked her some questions about another organization in SL (Amaretto Breedable Horses) who had already made a large donation to this charity. My inquiries were in regard to how they went about transferring their funds, if there was cost or penalty to them, what, if any, additional steps should be taken to receive proper documentation that I could provide to the SL community as proof of this donation, just basic questions one should ask before making a large cash transaction under any circumstances. Diana gave me the name of a lady who has an established organization here in SL, the same lady that handled the Amaretto Breedables transactions for them, and I contacted her.
I spoke with Christina Galanis, from Southern Tier Healthlink, who does have an established organization within SL, and discussed my options with her as far as getting them involved and transferring the funds through their organization. She did say that if needed, she could consider helping us transfer these funds, but at the time I spoke with her (through email then through SL) she was holding a sizable donation from Amaretto for another charity event they had organized. She informed me that if they did get involved she would not be able to actually take the funds until the donation for Amaretto was finished. At that time she gave me the name of Matias Linden and suggested I contact him stating that he would be able to provide me with information that may be helpful in completing this process. And so I did.
For the first time I had some clear cut answers and options. He informed me that I could do a bankwire transfer through Linden Labs which typically carries a 100 USD fee, however he did state that the fee would be waived for a charity donation. He also told me that Linden Labs could assist me with this bank transfer by me transferring the funds to them and them actually executing the transaction. This is the method I am going to use…but I still needed clarification on what sort of documentation would be made available to me so that I could pass it onto the SL community. I am waiting a response to this email as I type this.
I want to express to you all, that I do understand your need to be kept up to date with what is taking place here, but I felt it was necessary that I clarify some information for you all, so that you had a better understanding of why it was taking as long as it has to make this donation. I hope everyone can understand that while the PCF Sales event ended on April 10th, our goal at raising funds for this event did not stop there and given the help and donations of others, we held onto the funds for all events, until they all came to a complete close. If this has caused concern for anyone I would like to apologize for that, but I am asking that everyone understand we were trying to raise as much money as possible and have the least difficult transfer of funds, without taking any of the donation money to cover those expenses. Yes, we could have taken a chunk of that money out to pay people to help, or to pay taxes or pay donation fees, but I do not think that’s fair to anyone, especially those who need these funds so badly.
As stated before, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me as soon as possible and I will be happy to answer your questions.
Thank you all again, for your contributions…when a receipt of the donation is available it will be posted here.