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Where’s the Money? Charity Asks

ATLANTA (CN) - A charity collecting donations for victims of the earthquake in Haiti claims its online portal held onto at least half of the $310,000 it collected. Hearts with Haiti claims Donate.Net owes it more than $150,000, in Fulton County Superior Court.

Donate.net is also known, and also is sued, as Conscious Change Inc.

Hearts with Haiti claims the defendants' CFO Wayne Miller offered several excuses for not disbursing the money. These included a requirement - never disclosed during the previous 5 years of the organizations' relationship - that direct deposit was a mandatory prerequisite for disbursements, and that the "unpublished rules" of Donate.Net require Hearts with Haiti officers and board members to sign personal guarantees holding them financially responsible for any violation of the agreement with Hearts with Haiti.

But when asked to provide a written copy of these rules, Miller refused, the complaint states.

When pressed about the missing money in subsequent months, Miller offered new excuses, the complaint states.

Among these were that because Hearts with Haiti had a Catholic priest on its board, Donate.Net had to be sure the donations were not supporting child abuse, and that the accounts had been "flagged for unusual volume" after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake led to a spike in donations.

Hearts with Haiti says that under their agreement, Donate.Net agreed to provide an online fund-raising mechanism for contributions, and to disburse money collected, minus credit card charges, on a monthly basis, with detailed reports identifying donors and amounts donated.

The relationship operated successfully from July 2005 through January 2010, the complaint states. Trouble began when the donations spiked after the devastating earthquake, according to the complaint.

Hearts with Haiti seeks $150,289 from the online donations, plus interest, and damages for breach of contract, conversion and unjust enrichment.

Hearts with Haiti, a nonprofit, is represented by Rachel Sullivan.

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