Hundreds of nonprofits lose funds when sponsor organization shuts down

Hundreds of small Californian nonprofits may have lost close to a million dollars in donations because the umbrella organization that handles their money has suddenly shut down.

The International Humanities Center helped small charities handle contributions, and did sundry administrative work for them — a big convenience for many nonprofits with tiny staffs.

But the Center’s executive director, Steve Sugarman, emailed the nonprofits in January informing them the organization was going out of business. He reportedly told some directors that nearly a million dollars may have been depleted from the organization’s accounts and that only about $10,000 remains.

A consultant for the Center says some of the funds went to pay off legal fees and back taxes — not to mention a $12,000 monthly office rental in Pacific Palisades.

Many of the Center’s clients now say they can’t pay their own bills, or their staffs.

Some of the affected nonprofits include Champions Against Bullying, the Southern California Bluebird Club and the Afghan Women’s Mission.

Judy Alter with Protect California Ballots says that International Humanities Center handled her group's accounts for years — and that $2,500 of their money is currently unaccounted for.

"I believe he's a good person," said Alter. "They had been very helpful for us. I find them credible and I don't know what happened, that's all."

She says she intends to speak to Sugarman herself. Sugarman himself has yet to comment.

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