Humboldt Area Foundation recently fired their long-time Director of Donor Services, Chris Witt, and it wasn’t because of incompetence. It was because Witt refused to obey a directive from HAF’s higher-ups which would have required her to coerce donors into gifting them money with no strings attached.
Humboldt Area Foundation is an insular organization, and they do all they can to keep the public – who generously support HAF’s shady activities – from knowing the truth about how they run their affairs, particularly when it comes to how they’re using their money.
If you’ve been unlucky enough to give your money to HAF in the last few years, you may have been struck by something odd. HAF’s representatives have a curious habit of steering potential donors to contribute money towards HAF’s general fun rather than to specific causes. Why?
HAF has discretion over how to use money in their general fund, so every dollar that goes towards a specific cause – say, scholarships or youth activities – is one less dollar that goes into HAF’s Unrestricted Funds, which are used for “Humboldt Area Foundation community programs and unrestricted grant-making that meets changing community needs”.
Now, there’s a pretty clear trend of activities from HAF that just aren’t in keeping with their mission statement (which is curiously missing from their website), and that certainly don’t mirror the priorities of the greater Humboldt community. Here are some examples:
- Stirring up protests
- Failing to support Humboldt’s youth groups
- Coming to the defense of drug dealers
- Directly meddling in local politics
- Endangering the community
THC first got tipped off to Chris Witt’s firing, and the reasons behind it, by a fellow HAF employee who was disgusted at Witt’s treatment. This employee cited both Witt’s refusal to pressure donors to give HAF unrestricted money along with her more conservative political values as a couple of reasons why Witt was dismissed.
THC, like the half-ass sleuths we are, reached out to Witt a few times for her take on the situation – and she was even willing to speak to us! That is, until HAF negotiated a non-disclosure agreement with Witt after her dismissal. According to Witt’s former co-worker, she received quite the severance package for her silence.
If nothing else, THC is pleased we could aid Witt in getting paid for her unfair dismissal from HAF, and wish her happier trails where jerks like Pat Cleary aren’t pressuring her to swindle well-meaning folks out of their money.