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Chase Bank Caught Cheating Charity
At least three nonprofit groups - Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and an anti-abortion group, Justice for All- say they believe that Chase disqualified them over concerns about associating its name with their missions.
The groups say that until Chase made changes to the contest, they appeared to be among the top 100 vote-getters.
"They never gave us any indication that there was any problem with our organization qualifying," said Micah Daigle, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. "Now they're completely stonewalling me."
Three days before the contest ended, Chase stopped giving participants access to voting information, and it has not made public the vote tallies of the winners.
"This is a problem of accountability," said David Lee, executive director of Justice for All. "Simply publish the votes and let us see that the 100 organizations named as winners won."
Contests using social media to award or raise money for charities have exploded, as companies and nonprofit groups test the use of Facebook, Twitter and other online tools for marketing and fund-raising.
The Chase Community Giving contest is one of the largest ever mounted, open to more than a half-million charities. More than a million people signed onto Chase's fan page, where they were awarded 20 votes to cast for the charities of their choice.
In an e-mail message to Mr. Lee, Joseph Evangelisti, a spokesman for Chase, explained the thinking behind the changes in the contest.
"Regarding the vote tallies," Mr. Evangelisti wrote, "we have taken down individual charity counts with a couple of days left to build excitement among the broadest number of participants, as well as to ensure that all Facebook users learn of the 100 finalists at the same time and so we have an opportunity to notify the 100 finalists first."
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