Attorney General Ellison secures agreement to strengthen governance of charity serving Cameroonian community
Poor governance allowed charity’s community center to fall into disrepair
May 18, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that his office has reached an agreement with Minnesota Cameroon Community (“MCC”) related to past neglect of the organization’s primary asset, the Cameroon Community Center. The Assurance of Discontinuance filed in Ramsey County District Court alleges that the directors’ and officers’ inattentiveness and governance violations allowed this important community asset to fall into disrepair.
“Part of my job as Attorney General is to ensure that nonprofit assets are maintained well and nonprofits are governed well,” Attorney General Ellison said. “The Cameroon Community Center is a vital Minnesota resource, but through poor governance, MCC allowed the center to fall into disrepair. All directors and officers have duties to protect nonprofit assets and prevent waste and disrepair. The Charities Division of my Office will keep ensuring that charities provide all the oversight over their operations and assets that the law requires.”
After an investigation by the Charities Division, Attorney General Ellison alleged in the Assurance that MCC’s directors and officers breached their fiduciary duties by neglecting to appropriately manage the Cameroon Community Center. MCC’s directors and officers allowed the community center to deteriorate, failed to properly insure it, and failed to pay outstanding tax liabilities. MCC also failed to use charitable assets in accordance with donor intent when it fundraised specifically to pay MCC’s tax liabilities but failed to use all the funds for that purpose. MCC’s leadership also failed to register the organization with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office as required by Minnesota law.
Under the terms of the Assurance, MCC will restructure its leadership so that a singular board controls the business and affairs of the organization, instead of its prior fragmented governance structure. MCC must also maintain and comply with internal financial management practices developed in consultation with appropriate professionals, and adopt a conflict-of-interest, whistleblower, and document-retention policy. MCC is also required to properly maintain and insure MCC’s physical property, obtain all necessary licensures, and timely pay all taxes. MCC’s directors and officers are further required to properly maintain all books and records of the organization and adopt policies to ensure that funds are properly spent on the purposes for which they were given.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office makes available a number of publications and pamphlets providing information about charitable organizations, charitable trusts, professional fundraisers, and nonprofit organizations generally:
- “Guide for Board Members” covers fiduciary duties of directors of nonprofit corporations and is meant to assist board members with the important responsibilities they assume when elected to a charity’s board of directors.
- “A Guide to Minnesota’s Charities Laws” discusses key laws including the Minnesota Nonprofit Corporation Act, the Charitable Solicitation Act, and the Supervision of Charitable Trusts and Trustees Act, among other laws that require certain organizations to register with and provide notice to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
- “Nonprofit Organization Resources” contains a listing of resources covering charitable solicitation, professional fundraiser, and charitable trust registration, government agency contacts, and training and technical assistance providers.
You may submit complaints about similar situations using an online complaint form on the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/Complaint.asp. For additional information, you may also contact the Attorney General’s Office, as follows:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
(800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
(800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay)