Reprinted from Steve Drake's blog on Causaholic. It's about the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation's Trees for Troops program.
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation (CSF) accidentally discovered a copycat ripoff of our TweetUp4Troops effort to generate support for its Trees for Troops program.And, this ripoff creates an ethical dilemma for the Foundation and CSF would like your opinion and suggestions.Here's the scoop:
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, advances the spirit of Christmas for kids, families and the environment. The National Christmas Tree Association represents the growers, wholesalers and retailers of farm-grown Christmas Trees (often referred to as real trees).
For four years, the Foundation -- with support from FedEx -- has implemented a hugely successful Trees for Troops program which touches the lives of military families by providing them a free, farm-grown Christmas tree. The Foundation has reached 50,082 military families around the world.
To help generate financial support for Trees for Troops, the Foundation created and organized TweetUp4Troops events to be held during Veterans Day Week (Nov 7-14). As part of the campaign, the Foundation created a TweetUp4Troops group site, web site and Twitter handle.
Last week, a Foundation staffer accidentally typed in www.Tweetupfortroops.org and discovered that someone in the artificial tree industry had registered this domain name and created a web site that is purely sales, a giant advertisement for artificial Christmas trees. The site's creator has NOTHING to do with the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation nor does NOTHING to support the Trees for Troops program.
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation sees the fake tree industry's action as a rouse designed to "capture and divert" people who support (or want to support) the Foundation and its Trees for Troops program.
It seems to be a hoax to deceive potential donors.
We don't know how many potential sponsors accidentally typed "for" rather than "4" and got the fake page rather than the real TweetUp4Troops site. We're not sure that matters.
The Foundation remains stunned that a company/industry would stoop so low as to try to deceive donors interested in supporting U.S. military families.
So, we're asking for your advice. What does the Foundation do? How can (or should) it respond? What would you do if someone sabotaged your cause or non-profit and attempted to divert your donors into a different web site that is a sales piece rather than a donation page?
Please post your comments and suggestions.
PS: One lesson learned: register every domain name that closely resembles the name and/or Website of your cause.
Let's be clear about this...TweetupforTroops.org is in NO way associated with the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, Trees for Troops or National Christmas Tree Association; it is currently owned and managed by an artificial tree seller. Those looking to support the troops should visit http://treesfortroops.org/…. We apologize to any Americans for any confusion this may have caused. This was a pretty low and slimy thing for the fake tree people to do.