Since today is tax day, I’m republishing this post for those of you that may be tempted to write off donations to this organiation as tax-deductible.
It’s hard to know which non-profits are really worthy of support, especially monetary support. We’ve all heard the numbers about Autism Speaks and how so much of their funding goes to fat salaries for upper management, rather than services. We have to do a little work to be educated about which organizations are trustworthy and deserving of our support, especially when it comes to making donations. Autism families are already stretched thin, financially. I know we are, which is why I’ve always made it a practice to verify an organization’s tax-exempt status before donating money or offering support.
As many of you may know, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism accepts donations and assures the public that they are tax-deductible. Their page states that they are owned by the Myers Rosa Foundation, which is a partnership between Shannon des Roches Rosa and Jennifer Byde Myers. The Myers Rosa page states clearly that they are a non-profit, 501(C)3.
If you have donated money to them, you may need to consult a tax consultant. I’ve confirmed with the IRS that the Myers Rosa Foundation does not have a non-profit status, nor have they ever applied for one. Ever. There has never been a form 990 filed for them, which is required of non-profits. They filed as a corporation in 2011, and never filed for 501(C)3, yet they are claiming to be a non-profit. Additionally, last week I contacted Shannon de Roches Rosa for verification of the organization’s tax status and received no reply. This evening I contacted Jennifer Byde Myer and she confirmed that they had never filed for non-profit status.
As a self-described advocacy group, I think it’s important for the public to know that they have misrepresented themselves and have taken money from autism families under the guise of being a non-profit organization when, in fact, that is not the case. I know we all want to support organizations that represent our children, and this is probably shocking to many of you. It was to me. More than that, it was a disappointment. It makes it so hard for any of us in the community to know whom we can trust when an advocacy organization can’t even be trusted.
Beyond the issue of public trust, there is also aspect that TPGA actively works to direct the conversation about autism in our community, while also calling into question the ethics of other organizations. It lends no legitimacy to cry foul on how Autism Speaks delegates their funds when you’re casting that stone from a glass house.
I encourage you to call the IRS yourself to verify this information. You can also go to Guidestar.org and verify that you won’t find them listed.
There was originally no intention to post this information, but I’ve decided that this information is something that the autism community needs to be aware of. We spend so much time working our tails off to get our kids the supports they need, often at the expense of our own well-being. And to have an organization taking advantage of our families by misrepresenting themselves is a breach of our collective trust.
My hope is that this will be a good lesson for all of us, to research organizations before we choose to align with them or donate our time and money.
Edit: According to Linkedin, Shawn Myers (husband of Jennifer Byde Myers) is listed as the founder and Director of Myers Rosa Foundation from 2010 to present.