Epilepsy Charity Misled Donors, Minnesota Says

     MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Weeks after calling it out for continuing its relationship with the billion-dollar retailer Savers, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is hauling an epilepsy charity into court.
     Swanson’s June 8 complaint in Hennepin County Court against the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota comes on the heels of a May 21 lawsuit against Apogee Retail and TVI Inc., the Washington state company behind Savers.
     The earlier action complained that, despite its claims to pay charities “every time you donate,” the for-profit conglomerate known as Savers actually “paid nothing to the charities directly for” various nonclothing donations it solicited from the public.
     Swanson specified that the Epilepsy Foundation was one of the charities that continued its relationship with Savers despite exposure of the alleged deception by Savers in a November 2014 compliance report.
     In her latest action, Swanson notes that Savers paid the Epilepsy Foundation just 43.2 to 45.7 cents a pound for the donated clothing, while paying nothing got donated nonclothing items, such as furniture, toys, books and appliances.
     “Savers used EFM’s name and logo to solicit donations at some locations even though all the donations made at the location went to a different charity,” the 32-page complaint states. “Savers also acted as an unregistered professional fundraiser for EFM’s donation home collection program, as described below, because, among other things, it assisted, advised, and consulted regarding the home collection program.”
     Seeking an injunction and monetary relief, Swanson accuses the Epilepsy Foundation of filing inaccurate paperwork with the state, failing to disclose its relationship with Savers, and failing to file required materials, such as its fundraising contract with Savers.
     Minnesota law requires a disclosure about the percentage of donations received by Epilepsy Foundation versus retained by Savers, according to the complaint.
     Swanson says that Epilepsy Foundation and Savers lead donors to believe that donations to Epilepsy Foundation at the “Community Donation Centers” that Savers operates will benefit Epilepsy Foundation’s mission.
     With more than $1 billion in annual revenue in 2012, Savers represents itself as the largest for-profit retail “thrift” store chain in the United States, according to the complaint.
     Minnesota is represented in the action by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Kremenak.

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