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Questions regarding the legitimacy of a non-profit organization

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New member
Hello. Up front I want to apologize for the possible strangeness of this request. My hope is that people with an expertise in 501(c)3 issues will be interested enough to do a bit of sleuthing with some information I provide. So here's the situation.

I am working with a team on a documentary film that deals with an incident, many of those who view this post may be familiar with, that took place in January 2019. In Washington DC on January 18th the March for Life rally was being held. At the same time the first Indigenous People's March was also being held in DC. After both events were complete, a group of Catholic high school boys from Covington Catholic were at the Lincoln Memorial, many of whom were wearing MAGA hats. A verbal altercation ensued between them and a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites. Eventually, a small group of indigenous marchers led by Nathan Phillips became involved in the incident. a stand-off between Nathan Phillips and a Covington Catholic high school student, Nick Sandmann, was filmed and widely disseminated online and in international and national news. The story was framed narrowly at first, later being corrected.

Without going too deeply into all the areas the film details, one area we have been exploring is Nathan Phillips "non-profit" group the "Native Youth Alliance". I will provide links to the facebook page and blog below:

Facebook group page: [link removed]/
Facebook about page: [link rermoved]
- on the about page they claim the following: "Native Youth Alliance was founded in 1990 as a religious organization and has been incorporated as a non-profit since 1993."

Now that's all well and good. But this article was published detailing some issues: [link removed]

The summary of the article is essentially that the author, XXXX, claims that the Native Youth Alliance is not in good standing. I'm not a lawyer and our film budget is tight so making sure we are able to corroborate what XXXX says is important. I'm hoping to start here.

In the article she details that the Native Youth Alliance donation page on their blog goes to a PayPal account that goes directly to Nathan Phillips. This, along with not being currently in good standing (according to her research) seems shady at best, possibly illegal?

Blogspot linked here: [link removed]

But they say this on the blog:
"Please for your connivence an ours, the new PayPal button gives us the easy opportunity to help NYA continue to provide our communities with our work. We will be able to sponsor the Youth Activities also any other expenses such as the food, or cost of renting space. if you need a tax write off, contact us threw the Washington Peace Center. If this is a gift please donate here, we will still get you your tax write off."

Here is the website for Washington Peace Center: [link removed]
Washington Peace Center is apparently registered as a 501(c)3 and Native Youth Alliance have said to give money through them

Native Youth Alliance also posted on facebook that people who want tax write offs should donate to Washington Peace Center. However Nathan Phillips daughter has also publicly asked for donations through the PayPal account linked to nathan phillips.

Honestly, I am not a legal minded person. It is difficult for me to make sense of this but on the surface it seems possibly like an illegal activity. I am hoping someone here might be interested enough to go through the article posted and see if what Margot Cleveland says can be corroborated.

I appreciate any help and apologize if this is the wrong forum. It looked like the one most applicable based on searching the forum for the phrase "501(c)3)"

Thank you and I apologize for any confusion. Any resources, information, or help you can give is appreciated. We are dedicated to making sure our facts are straight for the film but our budgetary constraints make it difficult to hire (another) lawyer. We already have a media lawyer which is expensive as is.

A couple questions I have directly:

- Is it illegal to claim on a facebook page that you are an "incorporated non-profit" if you are no longer in good standing?
- Is there an issue with a non-profit directing funds personally to someone?
- What does it mean and how does it change the nature of this situation if there is a "financial sponsor" that they ask people to donate to, while still having donation options for a personal PayPal account?

Anyone willing to dive into this?

I appreciate it so much! And if this belongs in another forum please let me know so I can repost it there.
Last edited by a moderator:


Senior Member
If the answers to your questions are important, I suggest you address these questions to your media lawyer.


New member
She works with copyright law and is not going to comment on this. I am asking for not for definitive answers but for perspective of those who are interested enough to look into it - understanding most will not be — to gain perspective on the issue so to orient our handling of the topic.


Active Member
If I want to research 501(c)3 organizations then I start with CharityNavigator.org.

If you suspect shenanigans with their fundraising then you can report that to the appropriate authorities.

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
In the article she details that the Native Youth Alliance donation page on their blog goes to a PayPal account that goes directly to Nathan Phillips. This, along with not being currently in good standing (according to her research) seems shady at best, possibly illegal?/
The problem is that there are several organizations with Native Youth Alliance in their names. If the article you referred to (the links you had were all removed) was the Federalist article, the author stated that there was no organization with the name Native Youth Alliance in IRS exempt organization records. There is one, "Native Youth Alliance of Minnesota." It was granted tax exemption under IRC § 501(c)(3) on 7/11/2014 and the status was revoked on 5/15/2019 for failure to file the Forms 990 every three years as required. It is possible that it has been reinstated since then, but that information is not available from the IRS system. Whether this organization is the same one that you are interested in or at least is a related organization I cannot say, though my initial impression is that it may not be connected.

There are no other organizations with "Native Youth Alliance" in the IRS pub 78 records that I could find.

As for the other claims in that article, I cannot say if they are accurate and, significantly, how complete her investigation was.

I will say the organization's blog page was horrible, lots of misspellings and other errors. I can't imagine many donors being much impressed with it.

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