Inside the uproar over Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Archewell Foundation

After several days of confusion over the status of the Archewell Foundation, the charity has moved on Meghan Markle And Prince Harry in 2021The problem could have been resolved once and for all thanks to the intervention of the California governor Gavin Newsom while a press conference on Tuesday. At the podium during a visit Tuesday to a behavioral health center in San Mateo, the governor began by praising the work the charity has done before criticizing media coverage of a recent delinquency notification letter sent by the state attorney general’s office, Rob Bonta.

“The Archewell Foundation — run by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry — has done extraordinary work, especially [for] women and girls, but especially in mental health,” Newsom said. “I just want everyone to know, not only are they compliant, but the technical paperwork issue has been blown out of proportion. With respect, I hope the people who brought up those headlines also brought up this one, that it’s a very typical technical issue related to paperwork that persists for so many other people. .”

The controversy started when Page Six published a report Monday about the letter with the headline: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s foundation unable to raise money after California AG finds charity ‘delinquent’.” Although the physical copy of the letter was sent to the fund in the care of the lawyer Richard M. Genow on May 3, a digital version was then uploaded to the CA Department of Justice’s Public Registry of Charities and Fundraising Organizations. A source close to the organization said Vanity fair that the news of a potential condition problem came as a surprise to the fund itself, as the fund had filed its annual report and sent checks to the office via tracked mail, and that prompted them to contact with Bonta’s office for clarification.

It is an unusual step for a governor to become embroiled in a dispute over paperwork, but in his comments, Newsom offered clues as to why he spoke out. “They are completely compliant and they are a well-known organization that does that. great job in the state of California,” he said. “So I want to clarify that, because it’s important, and I just think to have a little bit piled on top of that is incredibly unfair.”

A spokesperson for the AG’s office also said the issue has been resolved. “After contacting our Registrar of Charities and Fundraising, the organization remains active and in good standing,” a spokesperson said via email.

In a statement after the Registrar of Charities and Fundraising Organizations updated Archewell’s status to “current” on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the charity explained the situation and denied wrongdoing. mistake on their part. “We have diligently investigated the situation and can confirm that the Archewell Foundation remains fully compliant and in good standing,” the statement read. “Payments due were made promptly and in accordance with IRS processes and procedures. Furthermore, all the necessary paperwork was submitted by the Foundation without any errors or omissions.”

Based on Michael Thatcher, The idea of ​​paperwork problems or delays in processing is “completely plausible,” according to the CEO of nonprofit review organization Charity Navigator. In a charity record keeping system, there are many ways in which something could happen in the absence of malice. “There could be human error in submitting documents,” he added. “There was human error during the receiving and processing process. Knowing where things went wrong is going to be really difficult.”

There are special cases in California that can cause more severe complications. Last year, a new charity law went into effect and its regulations are still being implemented by the AG’s office. Known as Assembly Bill 488, it was passed in 2021 in an effort to increase regulatory oversight of what the law calls “charitable fundraising platforms.” The state is about to launch an online application system, but as of now, they still rely entirely on paper applications. That might explain the delay and difference between days on Archewell’s papers.

Thatcher said that regulatory changes often lead to compliance issues, and the recent change in California affected many charities operating in the state. “The rules have changed and enforcement has changed, so it’s been an uncomfortable period of adjustment…. On the other hand, obviously I don’t think anyone wants those delays and it’s not great operating procedure,” he said. “California is trying to figure things out.”

The positive words from Newsom don’t mean everything about the charity’s future is settled. Thatcher notes that Charity Navigator only evaluates organizations after they have been in operation for three years, as the early years of philanthropy can be the start-up phase. But going forward, the composition of Archewell’s board of directors could pose a sustainability problem. In the 2022 filing, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are the only board members listed, but industry best practice is for boards to also include independent directors for oversight .

Thatcher added that this series of events is a reminder of the importance of compliance for charities across the board. “This was a costly filing error, given the amount of media attention and it, this probably has little to do with what the foundation is trying to achieve from a mission perspective,” he said. ”.

He also emphasized that documents such as delinquent notices should be the beginning of an investigation for the media and sponsors, not the end. “I once had a donor tell me this: Even charities are innocent until proven guilty. So in other words, give them the benefit of the doubt and verify,” he said. “Whenever there is something unusual, it doesn’t mean not bringing it up, it means asking questions.”


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