Is This My Place?

Ben is a recent college graduate with an accounting degree, who was hired by a respected non-profit organization, to manage their internal and external reporting. The organization collects donated medical supplies from US producers, and ships them to countries in need. The organization was thinly-staffed and under a lot of stress. Ben soon realized that there was no system in place for the organization to monitor the value of the donated supplies for tax purposes. He had to trust that the donaters were giving him the correct values. He knew that it would be beneficial for the donaters to inflate the values of their products for their own tax purposes, and wondered whether they could be cheating the IRS.  Ben wondered how much it mattered, people in need were still receiving the medical supplies. He worried that if he were to question the donaters, or make them provide proof of value, he would deter them from donating the much needed supplies. He also considered that his boss must have known about this issue and did not seem to think it was a priority. It seemed to be the organization’s belief that a company who donates items is probably altruistic and would provide an honest value. She had told him that it’s all about helping people in need, we don’t care about data. He was quite certain that some of the donaters were cheating the IRS and he did not want to enable their deceitfulness. However, he was happy to be hired right out of college for such a respected organization. Is it his place to say something?


Which is more important, getting people in need their medical supplies, or making sure companies are honest on their taxes?


What would happen to Ben’s career if he were known as a “whistle blower”? Does it matter for the sake of honesty?



3 Responses to Is This My Place?

  1. greenmba2008 says:

    Ben has been introduced to the differences between the for-profit and the not-for profit world in an unfortunate situation that includes providing much needed services to people in need. Oftentimes the differences between the two sectors can be as simple as finances, though in this case we see corporate “greed” intersecting with non-profit services.

    Ben should utilize this experience as a learning opportunity. While he is fresh out of college an green to the functionality of either sector of business, he should gain more experience within his field and establish himself before he takes action. It ultimately would be irresponsible of him to ignore the violations of the donors, and he should present the data to his supervisor after a rapport has been built and his job is not in jeopardy. If his supervisor continues to ignore his requests, he should present the information to the board of directors to ensure donor contributions are accurately reporting their supply values.

    Non-profit organizations should share the burden of social responsibility with their for-profit counterparts and not turn a blind eye to irresponsibility or violation of tax law for the sake of providing services. Doing so will continue the cycle of keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, making carrying out the mission of their organizations all the more challenging.

    -Daisy Wilson

  2. greenmba2008 says:

    In thinking about the long-term health of this organization, it would probably be wise for them to develop a corporate “receiving” policy that would outline the values of this organization and the expected practices of the corporations that are donating. By bringing this issue to the forefront proactively in this capacity, the organization is prepared to handle their public relations if one of their donors is exposed in their illegal tax practices. With that said, I think Ben would be able to be an influence for appropriate policy, without shouldering the responsibility of the actions of every potential donor.

  3. timothy stillman says:

    Ben should document his concern in a letter to both his director and the board of the organization. This is ultimately an issue of sustaining the organization. Jeopardizing the tax code, and hence perceived purpose of the organization, detracts from the benefits society first intended by initiating the non-profit status. It is likely other donors from outside of the pharmaceutical industry give both time and money to this organization too. The stakeholders are not only the pharmaceutical companies. In the advent the board does not adequately address this issue, in writing, Ben might want to consider seeking employment else were in the least. Due to his course of studies he would otherwise be jeopardizing his future employability.

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