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Ethical Considerations: Theater Hope Fund Case Study

Case Study:
Cassidy is the executive director of the Theater Hope Fund, an organization in New York that involves impoverished and at-risk youths in local theater and musical productions. Gangs, violence, drugs, and teen pregnancy are prevalent nearby, and the Theater Hope Fund gives children a positive and creative outlet for their energy. Aside from Cassidy, the Theater Hope Fund employs a fundraising coordinator, a community outreach specialist, and a production director, but the rest of the positions are filled by volunteers. Last year, the organization provided over 200 young people the opportunity to be involved with two different theater productions. By devoting their time and remaining active in the design, rehearsal, and preparation of these plays, the children were removed from potentially harmful situations. Cassidy is informed that theater, equipment, and facility rental fees have increased, and she will have to increase funding by 50% if the Theater Fund is to remain open.

After some new marketing and fundraising strategies, Cassidy is approached by a potential donor. He represents clients looking to support various lobbying groups and he hopes to use the Theater Hope Fund as a conduit to move funds to those causes. He proposes monthly donations of $100,000 to the Theater Hope Fund, if they will then "invest" $90,000 in other interests. The remaining $10,000 a month can be used by the Theater Hope Fund to keep the program running. Cassidy knows that the Theater Hope Fund helps children in the area stay out of trouble. Several children in the program could be in prison or worse if it were not for their involvement in last year's productions. She does not want to close the doors, but her only chance seems to be illegally funneling money through the organization.

This solution addresses the ethical "pitfalls" if Cassidy were to agree to this arrangement. There could also be legal issues as well in trying to justify the amount of money coming in - and then going out, on a monthly basis.

Solution Preview

Cassidy must not agree to "funnel" money through Theater Hope Fund. The proposition by the potential donor to essentially let her keep $10,000 a month; with the caveat of using Theater Hope Fund as a "front" to shuffling another $90,000 to other causes is completely unethical. This donor is asking Cassidy to basically "launder" money to groups they support. There is no ethical basis for Cassidy to do so. Also, there are many reasons such actions are illegal. It is likely that the Theater Hope Fund is a non-profit, based on the description of how it operates ...

Solution Summary

This solution is over 350 words and analyzes the ethical considerations of a community outreach organization, Theater Hope Fund (THF), being asked to take a "donation" of $100,000 per month. The contingency is that THF would then "invest" $90,000 per month, as directed by the donor, into other venues - and the "payment" for doing so is keeping the other $10,000 per month. The solution discusses the potential legal ramifications, along with ethic issues in agreeing to this.

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