Charities say donations processor has gone dark, owes them thousands of dollars

An organization that processes donations for thousands of nonprofits in New York City appears to have suddenly closed up shop without notice. And the charities say that thousands of dollars of much-needed donations are now missing.

The organization, NY Charities, opened in 2004 and offered nonprofits an online platform through which to process donations. But a number of charities that it has worked with for years say that NY Charities went dark earlier this summer, taking the donations with it.

"We have a small staff, we work really hard, and it makes a significant impact on the supplies we need," said Wendy Moore, the executive director of Little Essentials, a nonprofit that provides needy parents with urgent baby supplies like diapers and strollers. The group realized last month it hadn't received payments for May and June donations from NY Charities, totaling about $2,600. And when it tried to contact NY Charities, it hit dead ends.

"It's very unsettling to be left in the dark," Moore said.

Little Essentials isn't alone.

The P.T.A. of P.S. 110 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, says it is owed $10,000 that it raised in May and June. The money was processed through NY Charities but PTA President Erica Young said her group has yet to see a dime.

"I've repeatedly emailed them, I've heard nothing back," Young said. "The website has been down since last week. Just no communication whatsoever."

The door of the NY Charities downtown office was locked, and no one answered. Fox 5's attempts to reach founder and president Cristine Cronin were unsuccessful.

According to the nonprofit database Guidestar, earlier this year NY Charities' 501c3 nonprofit status was revoked because of failure to file tax returns for three years.

"How many people are being affected by this?" Young said, adding that P.S. 110 worked with NY Charities since 2015 without issue. "It just sort of blows my mind an organization can get away with this."

The office of New York Attorney General Leticia James confirmed that it is looking into numerous complaints about NY Charities.

Fox 5 spoke with four nonprofits who are owed money, totaling more than $20,000. The New York Council of Non-Profits, or NYCON, represents thousands of 501c3 organizations and believes the list of victims will grow.

"It's going to be a shock to a lot of organizations, it's going to hurt a lot folks," said Doug Sauer, NYCON's president. Sauer said NYCON has worked with NY Charities for years and that the organization had a solid reputation. Now, though, NYCON too is owed several hundred dollars by NY Charities.

"It may shake donor confidence and nonprofit confidence in online giving because that could happen to any nonprofit platform that collects the money," he said.  "So that may be the bigger earthquake that happens here."

Any organization owed money by NY Charities is urged to contact the Attorney General's Bureau of Charities here.