The Widow Donation Scandal that rocked the insular food blogging world continues to be a delicate subject for those involved. After Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl basically put the blame on widow Jennifer Perillo, not much else was heard about the situation. Now BwoB has apparently responded privately to one commenter who had questions:
I am writing to you with regards to the comment you left on our most recent post, “A Fund for Jennie: The Final Update.” I hope you will understand our decision not to publish some comments. Recent developments have indeed been saddening, and we have remained quiet thus far because Bloggers without Borders and its board of directors believe that engaging a public discourse with commenters or even with Jennie herself about recent events would be more hurtful than helpful to all those involved. Our mission has always been to bring community together, not tear it down.
What you should know is this: we would not and could not have embarked on a month-long fundraising campaign without the knowledge and support of the beneficiary. There are e-mails, text messages, Tweets and Facebook updates that not only verify her need at the time but also show that Jennie privately and publicly supported our efforts throughout the campaign. At no time was there a request to modify the language of the post or suspend or cancel our efforts.
When we started this campaign Jennie was a grieving widow with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She still is. We are trying to respect her and her process. While it is our decision not to engage anyone publicly, we do recognize our responsibility to respond to our supporters and other concerned individuals, which we are doing privately.
As for some suggestions to donate the fund or a portion of it to another organization that sincerely helps widows/widowers in dire financial need, it is our understanding that, as a non-profit organization, we are legally bound to transfer any fundraising proceeds to the beneficiary named at the outset of the campaign. However, we are currently consulting with our lawyers regarding any legal alternatives that will satisfy the wishes of any donors who express a desire for such, while remaining within the boundaries of the law.
You should also know that we are working with our board of directors to create clear-cut guidelines and a new protocol, including stricter vetting procedures and establishing reasonable fundraising limits. We are doing our utmost to ensure that situations such as this do not happen in the future, particularly when supporting individual beneficiaries.
In a nutshell it sounds as if BwoB is washing its hands of wrongdoing, since they were just going by what they were told. This seems like an odd way to run a nonprofit. It’s nice that NOW they are putting in vetting procedures but maybe they should have thought of that before opening up their site and begging for funds for a well off widow just because she she was wringing her hands crying “omg I don’t understand personal finance”.
In the end the widow has never apologized for basically misleading people – and she now has almost 80k in the bank to pay for her pretty daughters’ educations and a new apartment full of new furniture. In this economy, we should all be in such tragic circumstances. I hope BwoB’s “board of directors” takes a long hard look at future requests for fundraising and does a little more research than “oh that’s so sad, let’s help”.