With Changing Focus, Mercury One No Longer Taking Restricted Fund Donations for Nazarene Fund

naz signSince late 2015, one of the flagship projects of Mercury One has been the Nazarene Fund. On the Nazarene Fund website, the purpose of the fund is described:

For several years, ISIS has invaded peaceful communities in the Middle East and painted the Nazarene symbol on the door of people they seek to convert, extort, or murder. While ISIS uses the Nazarene sign to symbolize death, we use the sign to symbolize life. Mercury One is a US based humanitarian aid and education non-profit organization that established and administers The Nazarene Fund. The Nazarene Fund aids in the restoration of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities and their communities who have been targeted by ISIS for their faith.

The Nazarene Fund was born out of Glenn Beck’s desire to help Christian refugees in ISIS held territories: Again, from the website:

In 2014, the Christian community in Syria and Iraq were facing the greatest calamity in its 2000 year history. The Islamic State (ISIS), exploded out Raqqa, Syria, the capital of its self-proclaimed Islamic State. In a lightning strike that surprised the world, ISIS forces captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city) and all of the nearby Nineveh plain – the traditional homeland of the region’s Christian Community. What followed was campaign of extortion, murder and displacement not only of the Christians but of other ethnoreligious minorities in the region. By 2015 a population of 3 million people was reduced to 300,000 – most of them displaced from their homes and fleeing to other countries.
In August of that year, Glenn Beck took the stage and the Restoring Unity rally in Birmingham, AL and declared the situation for what it was – genocide. Mercury One donors immediately responded and The Nazarene Fund was launched with a goal of rescuing 400 families.

Recently, however, the focus of this fund has changed. First, consistent with my recent reports, donations to the Nazarene Fund are now going to benefit Mercury One generally. Mercury One doesn’t want to accept donations just for the Nazarene Fund. This message was recently added to the Mercury One page set up to accept donations to the Nazarene Fund:
 
Naz fund donations 3 23 17Second, Mercury One appears to be getting out of the refugee rescue business. According to the Nazarene Fund website, the need is not the same as it was in 2015.
Naz Fund New Focus
I am skeptical that the situation in Syria and elsewhere has improved to the degree implied here.
In any case, donors should be aware that Mercury One doesn’t want to accept restricted donations, even for the Nazarene Fund, and going forward, won’t be focusing on rescuing religious minority families.

Mercury One Clarifies How Donations Will Be Handled; Some Restricted Donations Allowed

Last week, Mercury One, founded by Glenn Beck, announced that all donations would be consolidated into one fund. In the past, Mercury One created various funds to accomplish specific goals. Donations to those funds (e.g., the Nazarene Fund for rescue of refugees) had to be spent on fund purposes. For instance, funds donated to rescue refugees could not be spent on purchasing historical artifacts.
At the time, I took a skeptical view of the changes. In my opinion, charities are more accountable when donors can specify how their funds are to be used. In practice, I think a charity should have an all purpose fund as well as specific funds for specific needs. The balances in these funds should be known to the public.
The Changes Were Changed
Apparently, somebody at Mercury One decided that the initial changes needed to be modified. Today, on the same blog post, the wording of the announcement has been changed. See below for the current announcement. The new material is in bold print:

Mercury One stands for doing the right thing and throughout our five-year history, Mercury One has done just that. While the needs change from season to season, the constant is that Mercury One has been there to respond to those in need. We know that you, our family of supporters and donors, are vital to our mission. One of the reasons we have had so much success with our humanitarian projects and The Nazarene Fund is because people like you have trusted us to be effective and make a real difference in people’s lives. Thank you!
If you have supported Mercury One in the past, or have followed our journey through Glenn Beck, you may know that for each need, we created a separate funding campaign so that we could allocate every penny of your gift to support each specific initiative. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of passion and support for these projects, but it also prohibited Mercury One from immediately distributing funds quickly when a new and urgent need arose.
Beginning in March 2017, Mercury One is streamlining the way we receive and allocate donations. Going forward, all gifts will go directly to Mercury One. We want to be able to respond more swiftly, and to do this, we are consolidating future gifts (unless otherwise specified) to a single account so we can be more nimble and react immediately when a need arises.
Donor intent is very important to us. Any restricted gift made to Mercury One has gone to support that specific cause. Mercury One has no intent of reallocating funds on any active funding campaign where the need still exists. For example, if you gave a restricted gift to Disaster Relief, to Veterans initiatives or to The Nazarene Fund, your gift will still be distributed to support that campaign.
At any point, if a donor sends a restricted gift, Mercury One will honor the intent of the gift. If there are no projects that would fit that gift, then Mercury One will communicate directly with the donor and at the direction of him/her will either redirect the gift to another project or return the gift.
We have been extremely honored to be able to partner with you, our donors, to make an impact in the world, whether it be to support disaster relief, veterans, those in crisis through our grant programs, or assisting Christians and other persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. Our mission remains constant. We will continue to support humanitarian aid and education initiatives throughout our nation and the world. What is different, is that we will no longer raise funds for single projects nor for a General Fund to support daily operations. What stays the same is that Mercury One will continue to be conservative in our administrative spending and open with our hearts as we provide assistance to those in need.
We thank you for your continued support and partnership in restoring the human spirit.

Looks like a lawyer(s) got involved and crafted some language that is an improvement over the prior post. This approach seems more reasonable and transparent. Donors can submit gifts with instructions and if Mercury One can accommodate the donor’s intent, the charity will do so. If not, the money will be returned. All donations not otherwise designated will go to the general account for use as decided by the charity’s leaders.
Last I checked Mercury One still had a link to the Nazarene Fund. Donors who want to give to that fund should ask what those funds will support. Furthermore, one should not assume that donations made from the Nazarene Fund website will go toward that purpose. I still believe Mercury One should either remove that page or make it crystal clear (not buried in a blog post) on the front page that donations will only go to the purposes of the Nazarene Fund if the donor explicitly designates the gift for that purpose.
 

Mercury One Gave $104,000 to a Wall Builders Charity Which Had Its Tax Exempt Status Revoked

Last year and then again recently, I pointed out that the charity founded by Glenn Beck, Mercury One, gave David Barton’s Wallbuilders $204,000 over a two year period from 2013-2014. The grants are complicated by the fact that David Barton is chair of the board at Mercury One. When I reported this, I neglected to point out that the recipient organization for one of those grants ($104,000 in 2014) was stripped of tax exempt status in 2011 by the IRS for failing to submit yearly forms. Look at Mercury One’s 990 report for 2014 on this grant to Wall Builders:
mercury one 990 Wallbuilders 2014
Notice the employer identification number: 22-3252844 (different than the number for Barton’s Wallbuilders Presentations). This is a federal identification number for a non-profit titled Wall Builders LLC. The address on the Mercury One’s website is the same as David Barton’s non-profit version of Wallbuilders Presentations. The first problem is that the gift is for “unforeseen disasters” which Wallbuilders has no obvious history of doing in a formal manner.
The second problem is that the grant was given to a Wallbuilders which was inactive.  However, tracking the EIN at the IRS, I learned that this organization had its tax exempt status revoked in 2011.
Bartons tax revoked.
Oddly, the address is in NJ* and not Texas as it says on the 990. In any case, this organization appears to be inactive and is unable to accept donations on a tax exempt basis.
Natural questions are: Where did those funds go and how were they used?
 
*322 Glassboro Road in Williamstown, NJ doesn’t appear to be an actual address, but may reflect the fact that Glassboro Road is US Route 322. It isn’t clear why the addresses are different. I asked Mercury One for clarification on the grant to this Wall Builders but did not get a response.
UPDATE: It is possible that the EIN is a mistake. Or perhaps Mercury One gave money to a Wall Builders in NJ (even though no one at the church knew about it when I called, there is one listed at St Matthews Baptist Church on Glassboro Road in Williamstown, NJ) but the wrong address was listed in the 990 form.

Mixed Donation Allocation Signals from Mercury One

Tuesday, I wrote about changes in the donation allocation at Mercury One. The Texas-based charity was founded by Glenn Beck with David Barton as the current chair of the board of directors. After years of allowing donors to focus their giving to a particular cause (e.g., disaster relief, helping refugees or even the general administration of the charity), Mercury One announced on their blog that all donations from now on would go into one fund:

Beginning in March 2017, Mercury One is streamlining the way we receive and allocate donations. Now, all gifts will go directly to Mercury One. We want to be able to respond more swiftly, and to do this, we are consolidating future gifts to a single account so we can be more nimble and react immediately when a need arises.

Despite this posting, Mercury One has not eliminated solicitations for giving to specific causes. For instance, when you land on the Mercury One website, at the very top of the page, there is a button that when clicked takes you to another website soliciting donations for “The Nazarene Fund.”
Merc One with Naz button sm
Up until recently, that fund has been dedicated to rescue and restoration of refugees. I asked Mercury One how much money was left in that fund but I did not get a reply.
Just a few days ago, a donor landing on Thenazarenefund.org and then scrolling toward the bottom of the page would find an image with Nazarene Fund t-shirts and a caption that reads “All proceeds go to the Nazarene Fund.”
Naz Fund Proceeds benefit
Now, the same images are there but with a different caption:
Naz fund proceeds benefit MO
While it is good that the caption has changed, it seems odd that the Nazarene Fund page is still active. Is there a dedicated Nazarene Fund or not? According to the new donation allocation policy, there is only one account. However, having a page advertising specific activities associated with a specific fund implies that donations to that page will go toward the purposes of that fund. If the new policy is truly in effect, then donations made from the Nazarene Fund page could actually go to some other purpose.  The longer this stays up, the more likely it is that donors could question how donations given as a response to this solicitation have been used.

Changes at Mercury One: Should Donors Be Concerned?

naz sign
Nazarene sign used by Mercury One to designate the Nazarene Fund

Mercury One is a non-profit humanitarian organization founded by Glenn Beck about five years ago. The main thrusts of the organization have been education, disaster relief, veteran assistance, and humanitarian assistance to refugees. As a part of Mercury One’s mission, the Nazarene Fund was created to fund the rescue of Christians refugees from ISIS held territories. If the reports of rescues and refugees restored to safe places are accurate, Mercury One has performed a valuable service within a short period of time.
However, there have been some red flags along the way. In the past, Mercury One has reported grants of $100,000 (2013) and $104,000 (2014) to David Barton’s Wallbuilders organization. In 2014, the stated reason for the grant was “to provide help and resources to individuals affected by unforeseen disasters.” (see the 2014 990 on page 82). It isn’t clear at all what disaster relief they supplied to anyone.
Furthermore, what makes the grants of concern is that David Barton is the chair of the board of Mercury One. He oversaw the granting of $204,000 to himself via his position at Mercury One. As I have written in the past, donors who hoped their funds would go to actual disaster relief may be surprised to learn that a large sum of money didn’t go there.
Notice of Donation Allocation
Now Mercury One is changing the way they treat donations. According to a March 13 post on their website, Mercury One will no longer take restricted donations. They want donors to simply give to Mercury One without restriction on how the funds can be spent. Previously, donors could designate funds to humanitarian relief efforts, educational efforts, refugee rescue and resettlement, or for a general fund (to cover administrative expenses). While many charities prefer unrestricted gifts, the rationale given by Mercury One for the change is of concern. The new policy is below:

Mercury One stands for doing the right thing and throughout our five-year history, Mercury One has done just that. While the needs change from season to season, the constant is that Mercury One has been there to respond to those in need. We know that you, our family of supporters and donors, are vital to our mission. One of the reasons we have had so much success with our humanitarian projects and The Nazarene Fund is because people like you have trusted us to be effective and make a real difference in people’s lives. Thank you!
If you have supported Mercury One in the past, or have followed our journey through Glenn Beck, you may know that for each need, we created a separate funding campaign so that we could allocate every penny of your gift to support each specific initiative. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of passion and support for these projects, but it also prohibited Mercury One from immediately distributing funding quickly when a new and urgent need arose.
Beginning in March 2017, Mercury One is streamlining the way we receive and allocate donations. Now, all gifts will go directly to Mercury One. We want to be able to respond more swiftly, and to do this, we are consolidating future gifts to a single account so we can be more nimble and react immediately when a need arises.
Donor intent is very important to us. We have been extremely honored to be able to partner with you, our donors, to make an impact in the world, whether it be to support disaster relief, veterans, those in crisis through our grant programs, or assisting Christians and other persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. Our mission remains constant. We will continue to support humanitarian aid and education initiatives throughout our nation and the world. What is different, is that we will no longer raise funds for single projects nor for a General Fund to support daily operations. What stays the same is that Mercury One will continue to be conservative in our administrative spending and open with our hearts as we provide assistance to those in need.
We thank you for your continued support and partnership in restoring the human spirit.

A red flag is raised by this paragraph:

If you have supported Mercury One in the past, or have followed our journey through Glenn Beck, you may know that for each need, we created a separate funding campaign so that we could allocate every penny of your gift to support each specific initiative. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of passion and support for these projects, but it also prohibited Mercury One from immediately distributing funding quickly when a new and urgent need arose.

I can’t see a reason why Mercury One would have been unable to take funds designated generally for disaster relief and use them in a crisis as needed. In fact, it appears that Mercury One has a history of responding very quickly to natural disasters (e.g. Texas, West Virginia).  While I can’t be sure, the reasoning that they have been hampered by having restricted funds doesn’t make sense to me.
The Problem with Unrestricted Giving
Restricted fund giving is a means donors have of keeping a charity accountable. To my way of thinking, charities have too few mechanisms for accountability as it is. Removing mechanisms for donors to communicate intent is a step in the wrong direction. In the last paragraph above, Mercury One claims:

We will continue to support humanitarian aid and education initiatives throughout our nation and the world. What is different, is that we will no longer raise funds for single projects nor for a General Fund to support daily operations. What stays the same is that Mercury One will continue to be conservative in our administrative spending and open with our hearts as we provide assistance to those in need.

While they pledge to continue fund humanitarian projects, the organization is not now locked into any specific level of support. Mercury One could fund one humanitarian project and put the rest into educational projects. Furthermore, they promise to be conservative in administrative spending but now there is no limit as there was before when they could only spend money given to the General Fund for admin purposes.
This change of allocation should be a red flag to donors. Two examples of other charities moving from restricted funds to one unrestricted fund come to mind: Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia.
In the case of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, at one point in time, donors could donate to their general operating fund or to a mission fund (they called it the Global Fund). When I discovered that the Mars Hill Church leadership was using restricted mission funds to help build their domestic network of churches, Mars Hill decided to remove the option of designating funds just for international mission work and make all donations unrestricted. While the flexibility of the church leaders to spend money how they wanted was increased, the accountability to donors was decreased. When one gives to an unrestricted fund, one has no control over how the funds are spent. If the non-profit doesn’t make their financial statements available, donors won’t ever know how those funds are spent.
Another example of a charity which promised to honor donor intent but did not is Gospel for Asia. GFA is the target of two class action lawsuits alleging fraud. There are many examples of GFA not following donor intent, but I will mention only one of them – the $20-million gift from Believers’ Church to Gospel for Asia to build a new compound in Wills Point, TX. Those funds had originally been given by donors to go to the mission field. However, it appears that $20-million eventually came back from India to help complete construction of GFA’s Wills Point headquarters. Since these shenanigans have been reported, GFA now implies that all funds are within GFA’s discretion and control.
In practice, as these cases show, restricted fund giving doesn’t guarantee that a charity will honor donor intent. However, at least there is some basis for accountability if a charity strays from that standard.
Museum Fund?
To bring it back to Mercury One, just because Mercury One says unrestricted funds will be used for disaster relief, it doesn’t mean they will. In fact, the charity could use most of the funds for some pet project. For instance, Glenn Beck and David Barton recently have been promoting a history museum. In fact, in a recent broadcast, they described a “museum fund.” With the change in donation allocation, it is not clear that there is going to be a museum fund. In fact, I can’t find a museum fund on the Mercury One website. Watch (see especially 1:40) Beck and Barton solicit donations for a “museum fund.”
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVzVs8Az-Uo[/youtube]
Perhaps the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at Mercury One. In any case, the newest word as of March 13 is that all donations will be unrestricted permitting the leaders (remember David Barton is board chair) to spend the funds as they please within the broad mission of the organization. That museum could be just around the corner.
Another Red Flag
Despite the posting about a change in donation allocation, Mercury One is still advertising the Nazarene Fund. Today, donors could give to the Nazarene Fund and think their gifts would go to rescue and restore refugees. However, if the donation allocation blog post is correct, it is unclear that a donation to the Nazarene Fund would go to that purpose. I am always suspicious of a charity which markets a fund in a way that makes it seem restricted, but in another part of the website or materials says that the funds are unrestricted. Until Mercury One clarifies things more, I would be cautious and not assume that Nazarene Fund gifts will be used for rescue and restoration of refugees.
 

Can You Trust Glenn Beck's Mercury One?

Today on his Facebook page, David Barton made a video pitch on behalf of Mercury One, Glenn Beck’s personal charity. Barton is the president of the board for Mercury One. In the appeal, he held up shirts which are being sold to help support Christians who are targeted by ISIS. Barton said Mercury One has helped 12,000 Christians avoid ISIS.
I would really like to believe this. But here’s where it gets real. I can’t trust Barton, so I don’t readily accept that 12,000 people have been helped. In fact, I am posting this with the hope that someone who is associated with Mercury One will offer proof. I also hope my friends in the non-profit oversight sector will look into this.
Why am I skeptical?
Wallbulders was a direct recipient of over $100,000 from Mercury One in both 2013 and 2014. See the 2014 segment of Mercury One’s 990 form below. When Mercury One raises money, Barton gets some of it.
 
Mercury One 2014
Furthermore, these stories of playing basketball at ORU, getting carried to class by police officers at ORU, having an earned doctorate degree without saying where he got it and then taking down the video evidence add up to a skeptical public. It doesn’t seem like a great marketing campaign to have someone who tells stories and then fails to back them up raising money for your charity.

Post Ted Cruz, Is It Time for Glenn Beck to Reconsider David Barton?

On his show today, conservative pundit Glenn Beck became irate with Ted Cruz over Cruz’s endorsement of Donald Trump. Right Wing Watch gets the hat tip and has some clips. Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNjgAUzUwCI[/youtube]
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BshqMopwv2E[/youtube]
It is must watch TV. Beck nailed Cruz on his endorsement and demanded to know what new information Cruz had which allowed him to endorse Trump. Cruz had none (in fact, Cruz allowed Trump to use his mailing list before the endorsement) In the second video, Beck rails against Cruz and the two parties.
If Beck is this angry over Cruz’s turn around, what must he think of his old buddy David Barton?
Barton believes Christians must put aside their complaints and vote for Trump (link, link, link). Barton believes Trump is God’s choice and that Christians have a biblical duty to vote for him. Barton has been pushing Trump for weeks.
How is it possible for Glenn Beck to excoriate Ted Cruz without comparable ire being directed toward David Barton?
Perhaps this will motivate Beck to really examine the claims Barton makes about historical matters (and even Barton’s own educational status). Beck has a mutual friend who reached out to him in 2012 about Barton’s history. Perhaps, Mr. Beck, you could reach out to that person and reexamine the evidence.
 
 

David Barton Claims "Doctorate in Education"

Not the first time. Is this a severe case of “degree envy?”
It appears to be a matter of great importance to Glenn Beck for David Barton to have an “actual doctorate.”
RWW’s Kyle Mantyla reports that Glenn Beck and David Barton were talking on Beck’s show and got into a conversation about Barton’s doctorate. Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpaIQJmJZiM[/youtube]
As Mantyla points out, Barton’s education is spelled out on his website bio.

David holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Pensacola Christian College.

Ordinarily honorary doctorates are not considered “actual doctorates” because there is no program of studies which lead to the award of the degree. The degree is an honor but should not be relied on to communicate expertise.
If Barton has an earned doctorate, good for him. Now he needs to disclose where he earned it. Otherwise, he and Beck should admit and repent of their academic fraud.
This one ranks up there with Barton’s claim that he played Division One basketball in college and translated for Russia’s Olympic gymnastic team.
Of course, the book Beck was promoting with the segment is entitled “Liars: How Progressives Exploit Our Fears for Power and Control.” And Beck says I am the “liberal bastard.”

With David Barton as Principal Officer, Non-Profit Mercury One Again Gave $100k to Barton’s Wallbuilders For Disaster Relief

Deja vu all over again. As was true in 2013, Mercury One with David Barton as principal officer and one of three board members gave $100k to David Barton’s Wallbuilders non-profit. Again in 2014, Barton is listed as Mercury One’s principal officer:
Mercury One 990 2014
And as last year, Barton is one of three board members along with Beck associate Joseph Kerry and Beck’s wife Tania.
Mercury One 990 Board 2014
This year Barton got a 4% raise:
mercury one 990 Wallbuilders 2014
See last year’s post for the possible problems with this.
Last year the funds were given to Wallbuilders because of their mission related to history. This year the 990 says “proceeds were used to provide help and resources to individuals affected by unforeseen disasters.” I took a quick Google look for something Wallbuilders did in 2014 or 2015 to help people through “unforeseen disasters” (other than Donald Trump, what disasters are foreseen?) and I couldn’t figure out what Wallbuilders did to help people with disasters (do bad history lessons count?).
Mr. Barton or Rick Green, if your catching up on your Throckmorton blog reading, could you do a Wallbuilders’ program where you outline how Wallbuilders spent over $100k on disaster relief?

Ted Cruz Is Out: Did God Make A Mistake?

One pitfall of claiming to speak for God is that God doesn’t always cooperate.
Glenn Beck once said Ted Cruz had the best chance of winning the GOP nomination because God was on Cruz’s side. Now that Cruz has dropped out, is God disappointed?
Beck wrote a post for his website where he downplays the fact that Cruz is out.

What is happening in this election is normal. If you think it’s abnormal, you aren’t looking back far enough into history. Civilizations go through this. Societies aren’t a straight line of growth. There are down waves for every up wave.
Tomorrow is just Wednesday.
It’s another day where each of us has an opportunity to be a moral person. To defend Liberty. To protect our neighbor’s rights, and count on him to defend our own.

No big deal. When Cruz was in the race, Beck and his fellow Cruz crew breathlessly reminded us that the nation was at the abyss, going to hell in a hand basket. Cruz was the answer.
Now, tomorrow is just Wednesday.