Non-profit feels taken by charity promoter
Steve Chamraz reports Video by tmj4.comvideo
WAUKESHA- To a fundraiser at the Women's Center it sounded like a good idea.
Allow a man making calendars featuring scenic aerial photos of Wisconsin to use the Center's name to help sell them.
"He was going to offer this to nonprofits, as a way to give back to Wisconsin, as he put it," said Center fundraising director Ken Genin.
That man with the big idea was Jacob "Jake" Knox of Cedarburg.
Genin said Knox promised the Women's Center $9 from each $15 calendar sold.
That good idea fell apart for the Women's Center when it never saw a dime.
"We haven't seen any support," Genin said.
For months, Genin said, Knox would not even return the Center's phone calls inquiring about their money.
Together with a pilot and photographer, Knox assembled the calendar and pitched his plan to charities in Southeast Wisconsin.
In an online video, Knox talks about an ambitious plan to sell as many as 100,000 calendars to "give back" to Wisconsin.
Though it now appears Knox sold very few calendars.
Reached by telephone Thursday evening, Knox admitted he was in over his head and said his effort fell very short of his goal.
He followed up with a written statement that said, in part:
"The total number of calendars sold in this sale were not enough to pay for the overhead of the program itself, let alone make the contributions we had intended to make to the participating groups."
Ken Genin said if Knox has told him this months ago, the Women's Center would have understood.
The amount of money promised to the Center is not large, somewhere between $600 and $1000.
But Knox only made matters worse by not coming clean when he knew the money was not coming in.
"I tend to believe him that he got in over his head and couldn't do it," Genin said. "But I wish he would have called and tried to work it out."
Statement of Jake Knox:
I sincerely apologize for the lack of communication during the course of the last couple of months as we try to reconcile the last of the money we have promised to the participating groups.
The total number of calendars sold in this sale were not enough to pay for the overhead of the program itself, let alone make the contributions we had intended to make to the participating groups. Even still, I intend to see that each group receives the funds promised to them.
This program was purely an act of good will.
There was no intention other than to help Wisconsin groups raise money. We have done that, in a small way, and we simply have not been able to collect all of the money yet to make the contributions.
We are actively working on collecting the remaining money owed to us from the calendar sales which is enough to pay the remaining money owed to the groups. The total money owed to the remaining groups is manageable and the outstanding amount owed to us for calendars we distributed and yet to be paid to us will cover that amount. We are encouraged that we will be able to collect and redistribute the funds to the groups who have it coming.
Our intention, as it has always been, is to deliver these contributions to all of the participating groups as we are able to do so. Obviously, we had hoped that this would have been possible by now. I have never personally collected any money from the sale of these calendars… and I have worked countless hours to help these wonderful groups raise money. It is a shame that any part of this effort has to be looked at in a negative light.
And again, I take responsibility for the negative feelings toward this program. My communication recently has not been very effective. I remain committed to following through with our effort. I ask for the patients and understanding of everyone involved.