Challenge Nation, a Washington D.C.-based company, is facing $10,000 in civil penalties for soliciting contributions on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee without the group’s knowledge or consent.
Challenge Nation sponsors “urban adventure races” – which essentially are scavenger hunts - in cities across the country. Challenge Nation has a race scheduled in Nashville Sept. 12. In promotional material for the event, Challenge Nation stated that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee would receive a portion of the proceeds from the event.
The Department of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming conducted an investigation of Challenge Nation with the assistance of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and concluded that Big Brothers Big Sisters had not authorized Challenge Nation to use its name nor did Challenge Nation have a written agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee to engage in a commercial co-venture with it.
The division determined that Challenge Nation committed two violations of the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act and assessed a $5,000 civil penalty for each offense.
“It is always a good idea to check with the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming before donating to an unfamiliar group or donating through a third-party company,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I would hate to see a company use a charity’s name to swindle money from Tennesseans, as it would make people think twice about giving money to charities that are legitimate and deserving.”
Todd Kelley, the Director of the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming said “this action should be a reminder to anyone who seeks to raise money for a charity that they must have that organization’s authorization prior to doing so. Further, if a for-profit company wants to partner with a charity to conduct a commercial co-venture, the law requires that there be a written agreement between the two organizations.”
Information about charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in Tennessee is available at: http://www.state.tn.us/sos/charity
To report potentially fraudulent or misleading activities by a charitable organization, contact the Secretary of State's Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at (615) 741-2555 or local law enforcement authorities.