gay_money.jpgThe Bay Area Reporter is asking a lot of questions — but not getting any answers — from a local charity that announced a generous gift to local AIDS orgs, but actually handed out far less.

Under One Roof, the Castro-area non-profit retail store, says on their website that they “distribute 100% of our profits back to our participating agencies.” They have, they say, “sold over $11 million in retail merchandise on behalf of AIDS service organizations” and “donated more than $4 million in unrestricted funds to approximately 30 participating San Francisco Bay Area HIV/AIDS service organizations” since 1990.

According to the BAR, however, “only a small portion of what the shop raises goes to the other charities…most of the money goes to cover the agency’s high expenses.”

In an email sent to the BAR, Under One Roof’s Executive Director, Beth Feingold, promised that in 2011, the charity would be distributing $20,000 to local AIDS orgs by December 1.

However, after what a former chair of the non-profit’s board characterized as unexpectedly slow November sales, the charity distributed far less, far later — only $10,000, announced in a December 29 email.

Current employees of Under One Roof refused to provide comment to the BAR, they report, or to explain if additional funds would be forthcoming.

According to a former board member, Under One Roof’s finances have not been audited since 2004.

Update, 1/6/12: In an email from Jennifer Kutz, member of the board of directors for Under One Roof, to the Appeal, Kutz responds:

Under One Roof, as a social enterprise, has a unique business model and it’s common for there to be misunderstandings.

Under One Roof did indeed payout the $20,000 promised in Beth Feingold’s email to Seth Hemmelgarn earlier in the fall. The first half of the donation ($10K) was paid out near the end of October; this was the money raised by Marc Hettinger, Board Chair Emeritus of Under One Roof, during his 60th birthday party earlier this year (mentioned in the BAR piece). The second portion of that donation ($10K) was paid out on December 14th- two weeks later than we expected, yes, but nonetheless just as important to our agencies, AND significant to U.O.R. as it is a major increase over the funds paid out in 2010.

In total, Under One Roof donated $30,000 to its AIDS/HIV charities in 2011.

…Seth notes that we have been ‘refus[ing] to do phone interviews’, which is 100% untrue. Under One Roof’s media policy is, and has been for over a decade, that so long as questions or specific discussion items are submitting in writing/email in advance of the call, we are more than happy to conduct an interview with any reporter. The policy, which is not at all uncommon in the non-profit or private sectors, is simply to help avoid mischaracterization of the organization, as we have a very complex non-profit formula/model which requires the merging of retail and accounting for non-profits. We just want to make sure our message is communicated clearly.

Seth has refused to abide by our media policy; if at any time he does submit his questions/topics via email or writing, we’d be more than happy to have a conversation with him about any topic he’d like to address.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • NicHunter

    Well, if you would want questions, why not just pay for the cost of having them audited?

  • NicHunter

    Well, if you would want questions, why not just pay for the cost of having them audited?