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Joker: Avoid appearance of conflict of interest

 In yesterday's Marketer responds to ex-trustee thread, Joker opined:

Brent Regan is part of the gang that can’t shoot straight. Brent was able to detect something was wrong with the Range contract, but was unable to target the correct group to question about it.

It’s plain as day – thanks to Adam Graves’ response to Regan.

Adam Graves served as the chair of Sorensen Magnet School for the Arts and Humanities. His own business benefited from a contract to market the annual fundraiser.

It’s a conflict of interest for Mr. Graves, not the school board as Regan tried to assert. Mr. Graves had the responsibility to tell the fundraising committee or the school that his firm shouldn’t handle the marketing.

Graves can’t have it both ways – a faithful volunteer and a shrewd businessman. When does Adam Graves become a volunteer and when does he become a paid marketer? It’s hard to know based on his explanation.

A chair of nonprofit committee shouldn’t allow their business to get a contract. It’s the appearance of conflict of interest that Mr. Graves and others on the fundraising committee failed to notice.

Comment continues below.

Do you agree or disagree that this could appear to be a conflict of interest?


The entire scenario raises questions about the integrity of the fundraiser. For example, was Range’s name listed on the printed materials? Did the committee look at other marketing firms to see if there was a cheaper alternative?

If Graves’ family spent $5,300 at the auction and donated items that sold for $2,250, it certainly appears his business recouped $5,666.95. It’s hard to applaud a person for volunteering their time and then sending you a bill.

Trust is the foundation of nonprofits. I certainly wouldn't feel good about donating to Sorensen knowing that one of the so called volunteers pocketed some of the money for their own gain. But that's just me.


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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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