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  1. DiegoDraw
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    DiegoDraw New Member

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    Non-Profit Organizations

    Discussion in 'Research' started by DiegoDraw, Jun 16, 2009.

    Well, I'm currently fleshing out the idea for a humorous novel with an episodic story about two slackers who try to make money off of "non-profit" organizations, and things of the like. Each episode will be a different attempt.
    I need some help with a couple ideas. I'm obviously going to pour more research into each of the episodes when I write them, but I'd like some preliminary advice.

    So far, I have the first episode with them creating a church, and the second is them trying to open an orphanage. I need more ideas like this for the rest of the episodes. What non-profit organizations could you potentially make money off of?

    Also, I was wondering how realistic it would be for this to happen. Not that I care if it's actually realistic or not, I'd just like to know. When you get government money for things like churches and what not, do you have a government agent constantly watching your funds so that you CAN'T make any money? Or is it a legitimate possibility that you could make some, at least for a few months before something happens?

    Thanks,
    ~D-Draw
     
  2. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    The only advantage I know of to being "non-profit" is that there are usually considerable tax breaks; but I think fraudulent accounting practices can be found across the board. Both non-profit and profit-making corporations (and individuals, for that matter) can and do receive grant moneys from various sources, including the government, who do have oversight requirements--strict ones, if they're smart or high-level. Even private investors are likely to have restrictions for how their money is used, reporting requirements, and some degree of oversight. I suppose the only reason to choose non-profits as likely candidates for your fictional target is that they're usually created for the purpose of serving the public interest in some way; so, when they're discovered to be corrupt, the outrage is sometimes more visceral than if it's just an entity whose only purpose is profit.
     
  3. DiegoDraw
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    DiegoDraw New Member

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    Well, the purpose wasn't specifically targeting non-profit organizations per se, but there are advantages, as you said, like significant tax breaks, grants, easier investment opportunities, et cetera. Plus, it makes it funnier. These guys' idea is to try to dupe people out of money instead of actually doing hard work.
    Again, with the realism, it's not that big of a deal, since it's humorous. But I was wondering, when you receive a government grant, what are the restrictions? Do they watch everything you do, or do you just get an audit more often? My characters only need to get away with their fradulent behavior for a few months at a time before that plan falls apart and the next episode begins.

    ~D-Draw
     
  4. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    True story in my home town, some kids went door to door collecting money for some disease (I think it may have been breast cancer). They ended up with a few hundred dollars in a couple days, but it was all a hoax. They got caught (by very angry parents, I think) and made to go back around door to door returning the money. So, you could do something along those lines for you stories. Have a strange made-up disease that the guys are fund raising for, maybe with a name so long and elaborate, no one will remember it once they step off the door step... I dunno.
    As for Gov't keeping tabs, I'm not really sure, but the government is a big cumbersome organization so I'm pretty sure that even if they did track the funds, it would take them at least a few weeks to follow the paper trail.
    good luck with the stories. They sound like they'll be fun to write and to read.
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Easier investment opportunities? I don't follow. I think there are all kinds of (complicated) grant structures and expectations, rather than a single format and type of oversight. I don't think they place a "body" inside your agency, but they do expect results, and the time frame likely varies depending upon the type of project or purpose. You probably ought to consider how your characters plan to "disappear" into the night, since I expect the government would be coming after them after the first debacle. Good luck with it.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's done all the time by 'gifted' con artists! [including some 'respected' ones such as bernie madoff!]... a clever scammer can find ways around any gov't oversight... and they do... till they get caught, which most of them eventually are...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not necessarily. It is difficult to estimate the numbers of scam artists who DON'T get caught.

    If they truly are clever, they never become part of the statistics.
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Follow the current news about ACORN...it's a government scam in progress.
     
  9. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Other non-profit organizations could be hospitals (I think they're non profit), a city zoo, a school, a blood bank, or maybe like an organization like the March of Dimes only instead it would be working for a cure for a fake disease.

    Also, I don't think the government would give money for churches--separation of church & state and all that.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sad, but true, cog!

    guess i was wishful thinking there...
     

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