The Representative's Corner

COLUMBUS: Entities claiming to solicit donations for charity via collection receptacles will now have to prove that what they collect is truly benefitting charitable causes.  

House Bill 184, introduced by State Representatives Sean Patrick Brennan (D-Parma) and Adam Bird (R-New Richmond), requires that donation collection bins display visible information regarding the beneficiary organization, including where the donated goods end up, contact information for the entity, and how to access the financial agreement between any professional solicitor and the benefiting charity. Benefitting organizations seeking to place bins will also have to file an application with the Ohio General Assembly who will vet them as legitimately benefitting charities.

“Some shady individuals and organizations have been known to use these bins for profit under the ruse that they further charitable purposes, creating an unfair advantage for dishonest operators over legitimate charitable organizations - literally boxing out good actors,” Brennan explained in his testimony on the bill.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office concurs with Brennan indicating that some for-profit entities have been found to place donation bins that are nearly identical to their non-profit counterparts. “This is deceptive to the public who might otherwise think twice about donating items to a for-profit entity when they intended their donation for a charitable purpose,” said Corey Jordan from the Attorney General’s office.

HB 184 will establish transparency requirements and enforce compliance, ensuring that donations genuinely serve their intended charitable purposes, including veterans’ organizations, Special Olympics, Goodwill, and other legitimate charities and ensuring that donations reach those who genuinely need them.

Rep. Brennan who served on Parma City Council for 19 years, explained that his concern about deceptive bins began during his years on city council. In fact, he championed a city ordinance regulating the placement of bins in the city. “I found that, not only were unscrupulous operators deceiving donors, but their improperly maintained bins posed safety hazards in the public right-of-way to pedestrians, bicycle riders, and drivers and created blight in the community. Further, often unsightly donation collection bins, that are very difficult to move, given their size and weight, show up without a property owner’s permission,” Rep. Brennan added.

Reps. Brennan and Bird contend that these deceptive practices undermine trust in the charitable sector.

The bill also includes language that will prohibit charitable solicitors from utilizing robocalls to solicit donations and that any entities soliciting via phone keep records of their scripts and recordings of calls for review by the Attorney General’s office.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 184 with a vote of 85-5. “This bill is another example of how, when Democrats and Republicans work together in good faith, good policies that benefit all Ohioans result,” Brennan said. HB 184 is now on its way to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

Sean Patrick Brennan

Sean Patrick Brennan

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 12:20 AM, 05.01.2024