Occupy Wall Street finds money brings problems too
By Ben Berkowitz and Chris Francescani
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Occupy Wall Street has raised more than $500,000 in New York alone to support anti-greed demonstrations and, seven weeks into the movement, protesters are finding that having money creates headaches.
The challenges have included how to become a non-profit entity, how to deal with credit card companies withholding donations, choosing a bank that shares the movement's philosophy and budgeting what to spend cash on.
The totals raised -- more than $500,000 in New York and around $20,000 in Chicago, Richmond and other cities -- have surprised everyone from the protesters to those overseeing their finances.
"I figured they would bring in maybe $10,000, maybe $20,000 and it would be no big deal. They were quickly bringing in that much and more a day," said Chuck Kaufman, the Tucson-based national co-coordinator of Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), the movement's fiscal sponsor.
"We were surprised and unprepared so it was a scramble to get our end of the system functioning at the volume the money was coming in."
AFGJ is a non-profit group with roots in Nicaraguan solidarity activism of the 1970s that has since used its tax-exempt status to be a financial umbrella for other groups.
Occupy Wall Street pays 7 percent of its takings for AFGJ's support -- book-keeping, tax returns and donation processing.
Although the Occupy Wall Street finance committee's website lists 87 members, Kaufman said the core was about six people, including a lawyer, an accountant and a tattoo artist. Continued...